I often get asked what it is like receiving a big plant delivery. Today has been a delivery day of approximately 100 aroids, so I decided to let you know what happens.
I bet immediately you are all thinking "wow that must be so much fun". In some ways it is, but in other ways it really can be a nightmare.
In the run up to delivery there is the big worry of whether plants will make it to me alive. These plants have been fully paid for but there is still a lot can go wrong. From when the plants are packaged in the heat of Thailand or Indonesia to arriving at Eastern Tropicals, it can be a few days or even weeks. Delays are common and the box of plants can sit in UK customs for days or weeks. If the weather is cool, this is not such a problem, but in mid-summer it can be the difference between live plants or dead ones. It just takes one plant to start to rot, and then it easily spreads to the other plants. Even with all the correct paperwork in place, sometimes every plant is opened and checked by the relevant authorities, which can add huge delays.
When delivery day finally arrives, I start early trying to get all the days orders packaged ready for collection. This went well today so I had a short time to list a few goodies too.
The box of new plants arrived around 11am and the hard work really starts. It is a combination of nervousness (are the plants ok) and excitement about any new plants. Every plant is carefully unwrapped and place in water for a good long drink. This also allows me to check it carefully and remove any signs of rot. Some plants travel so much better than others. Monstera tend to be tough and can withstand the heat well, Philodendron are totally different and can rot after a day in a box.
After 2 hours of unpacking, its now time to start back at the beginning. Each plant is removed from water and placed in a clear pot, in a mix of fresh sphagnum moss and perlite. The clear pot allows us to keep a close eye on the roots without constantly disturbing the plant.
Once the plant is in its new pot it is labelled with name, plant passport number, and date. It is placed in a semi shaded area of the plant room. These plants have been in a box for a few days, so we like to slowly acclimatize them to lights.
This stage of the process is around 3 hours of solid work. The room is a mess of wrapping paper, plastic bags, and soggy tissue from the wrapping. Moss just seems to be everywhere – how does it get in my hair and in my shoes? Every step on the floor comes with the crunch of perlite underfoot. But it is all done. The plants are all in their new temporary home, well-watered and happy.
At this stage, some companies will list the plants on their website, after all the plants look kind of okay, so why not? This is a big mistake - and something we totally disagree with. After a day or two your plants can go downhill quickly. Rot may start, or the plant may simply drop all its leaves. The shock of packing, transporting, and unpacking catches up with the plant and it can struggle to cope. I pride myself that I never sell a plant until it is showing both new leaf and root growth. This process may take weeks or even months, but I will never rush it.
I hope this gives you some insight into what a delivery day is like. It can have huge highs and terrible lows, but I believe this process offers my customers the very best quality plants possible.
Propagating Monstera is such a rewarding process – do not be put off by fear of failure. This post is written in a simple way – there is no need to make this process complicated. You do not need to check water pH, temperature, or any of the other scary things you may have read online!
To take a cutting I recommend using a clean and sharp knife or blade (scissors can slightly crush the stem and allow rot to set in). Cut 1cm below your Monstera aerial root and allow the cut to dry for 24 hours. Putting your cutting in water too soon is risky as it is more likely to rot.
After 24 hours the cut end should be nicely sealed, and your cutting is ready to be placed in a glass of tap water. Place the cutting in a bright area(no direct sunlight) and be prepared for a nervous wait
It may take 2 weeks, or it may take 2 months, but eventually you should start to see some white fluff (primordia) growing on the stem and/or aerial root. Great news – your roots will be along very soon.
Change the water every 7 days. There is no benefit to the cutting, but it will allow you to be able to see any new root developments. Once roots start to form they will grow surprisingly fast, I like to allow around 6-7cm of root growth before re-potting.
For potting my cuttings I use a well-draining mix of 1/3 bark chippings, 1/3 perlite and 1/3 compost. Use the smallest pot you can easily fit the roots into. If the pot you use is too big then the plant will spend the months just developing more roots rather than leaves. Try to pot up your cutting so that some of the stem is still visible. You must ensure that the point where the leaf joins the stem is above the soil level.
If all the above is followed you should now be able to relax and watch your new Monstera grow.
I have planned this for so long but have never got round to doing it. Something always gets in the way – another plant needs potting, an order to pack, or watering that needs doing. Suddenly I am a few years down the line and I realise, tomorrow never comes!
So today, I officially start...
Eastern Tropicals was born from a seed of an idea (no pun intended). A few years back I had heard of variegated Monstera but they were just impossible to source in the UK. It became my mission to find this elusive plant, and of course learn how to look after it. A few months later and finally my search was over, I had found myself 2 cuttings.
At this time, I had no idea how to root these cuttings or how to care for them. The information online was limited so I decided to teach myself. I placed my little cuttings in water then spent the next two weeks continuously staring into the jar, hoping to see a change. Finally, one morning I saw a bump. Was I imagining it, or was that the start of a new root? I took pictures from every angle and returned to stare into the water way too many times that day.
Within 6 weeks both cuttings were full of new roots and I began to feel confident. Soon the cuttings were potted and growing well. "That was not that hard" I told myself, I bet others would love to do the same. My next order of 10 cuttings to sell was the beginning of Eastern Tropicals.