Not what I paid for.

I'm a bit disappointed today. A plant I purchased turned out to be mislabeled. If this were a potted plant that I purchased just recently, I'd most likely return it to the nursery or garden center for a refund or replacement.


Of course it couldn't be that easy, as I bought this a couple of months ago as a bagged, bareroot plant from a big-box store. What makes it more disappointing is that I thought I had been a smart shopper and gotten the best plant available.

***


The plant I bought was another elephant ear cultivar called 'Black Magic'. I grew this last year, but the main plant didn't overwinter leaving me with only tiny offsets -- baby plants.

So when I saw 'Black Magic' in the rack with the other common bagged perennials, including the regular elephant ear (Colocasia esculenta) bulbs, I was excited!


Looking through the selection though, one after the next seemed like it was an empty bag of peat moss -- I didn't feel the heft of a decent-sized bulb or root. They all seemed empty, until I dug deeper and found one bag with a nice chunk of something in it. I thought I had been a smart shopper and found the best available specimen, so I got it home, potted it up, and waited.

I had read that 'Black Magic' takes a bit of time to "get going", so the fact that this tuber was taking a long time to put out its first leaf didn't worry me. I could see that the tuber was fine, so just kept waiting. A week or so ago I noticed that there was finally some sign of the tip growing, and the other day the leaf emerged.


Hmmm. It looked dismayingly familiar, and not because I grew 'Black Magic' last year. It looked in fact exactly like 'Black Stem', also known as Colocasia fontanesii. It had the glossy leaves, shiny black stem, and even indication of the long "runners" it uses to produce offspring.


Considering this ended up being a plant that I already have 10 of instead of a plant that I have really none of, it's a huge disappointment.

One of my existing 'Black Stem' taros.

Looking on the bright side though, I now know that a tuber of this plant can be stored dormant, which will make it easier to overwinter -- I won't need to keep plants growing under lights, or semi-dormant in the garage.



Unfortunately now I only have the tiny offsets from last year's 'Black Magic' to work with.


Even at this small size you can tell the leaf is much different than 'Black Stem'.

I'm hoping I can get them to a decent size this year, but it may take a few years. Because of this I may still keep an eye open for larger specimens at the nurseries, but no urgency as I really do have a lot of different elephant ears already.

Quite disappointing.

.

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GirlSprout  – (June 5, 2011 at 9:09 AM)  

That's happened to me twice. It was a huge let down when I discovered that the penstemon I bought wasn't what I anticipated, but a Rocky Mountain penstemon that already reseeds itself freely in my garden.

The Sage Butterfly  – (June 5, 2011 at 10:09 AM)  

That is disappointing! The Black Magic elephant ear is a beautiful plant. Let's hope next time by accident you get two plants instead of one...to make up for it.

anne  – (June 5, 2011 at 11:07 AM)  

Alan, you are being too hard on yourself. How were you to know the package was mislabeled? Even just for the principal, if you have your receipt, I would take the plant back to the big-box store. It's in their best interest to be customer-service oriented.

Then, either work with the Black Magic you have, or buy one at a local nursery. One nursery in my town had Black Magic plants for $5.99. The one I bought was a little more but it was bigger. I am enjoying how a new leaf unfurls green and then in 2 days has turned black.

HolleyGarden  – (June 5, 2011 at 11:41 AM)  

I hate it when things are mislabeled. Of course, the people that work there don't know any difference, but the suppliers should know better!

Home and Garden Decor  – (June 5, 2011 at 12:06 PM)  

Alan, I know how disappointed you feel. It has happened to me more than once and always only with plants I bought from the big box retailers. Wondering why it seems only to happen at the big box retailers because I never had a problem buying anything labeled wrong from a local nursery.
Happy Gardening
Paula Jo

Kate  – (June 5, 2011 at 2:49 PM)  

I can recall having to feel around in the little bags of sawdust for an actual root in the nursery selections too. Sometimes it seems like garden product standards for the mainstream homeowner are the lowest of the low. And then when the quality doesn't hold up, gardeners often blame themselves. I would agree with Anne in trying to get your money back. (Especially because I know what a striking difference 'Black Magic" can have. I would have been disappointed too!)

Cathy and Steve  – (June 5, 2011 at 5:36 PM)  

We bought two trees that were mislabeled at a nursery. One was a happy surprise, the other a major disappointment. And by the time you realize it, it's always too late to do anything. We share your frustration!

Nell Jean  – (June 6, 2011 at 11:10 AM)  

We all learn that little plastic bags in the big box holds a surprise. I don't know why they bother with a label. It's how I got 'Sammy Russell' daylily -- he was sold with some other gentleman's name.

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