By Tom Eckert
We get a lot of questions about purchasing plant plugs and where to get them. I will give you a primer into this area based on the small greenhouse business the wife and myself have enjoyed since 2011.
Generally the hobby greenhouse person grows from seed. Most seeds are low in price, per seed pack as purchased at local greenhouse locations and those box stores. Larger seed suppliers like Ivy Garth Seeds in Ohio cater to the large and small growers selling seed by the “count”. The minimum seed pack available, is 100 seeds. You can also get multiples of 500 and 1,000-(M) seed packs. Ivy Garth has excellent customer service and shipping is free with orders over $50. They have a nice web site where you can scan through thousands of seed varieties including flower, both annual and perennial, vegetable, herb, and ornamental grass. A culture section on the site suggests the best way to grow each kind. And there is a picture of each.
Remember to keep purchased seed in their seed packs until ready plant. Store them in a dark dry location preferably in your house where the temperature stays at a moderate level, never freezing. Keep the opened seed packs closed using a paper clip. I do not recommend trying to staple the seed packs shut as this makes for a problem removing the staples.
If having someone germinate the seed for you is more to your liking, then the purchase of plant plugs are available from many sources. Small plugs are usually ordered in the fall months for spring delivery. Most suppliers do have overruns available although the selection available may not be as great. Most plug suppliers have ordering dates in the fall months, September and October, to insure your order variety is guaranteed.
Plant plugs are purchased in trays of varying size. For example 50, 51, 102, 105, 162, 288, and 512 trays are available from KubePak in New Jersey. Tray size varies depending on the plant and the size of the plant purchased. The smaller the tray number the larger the plant plug. Also, some but not all suppliers price their trays as follows or in some similar variation; a 512 tray where they guarantee you receive 500 good plugs and pay for the 500 plugs. This pricing allows for any plug slots not full in the tray. The 105 tray guarantees you 100 good plugs and you pay for those 100 plugs. This system works quite well for KubePak. Other greenhouse companies may offer slightly different tray sizes.
KubePak, North Carolina Farms, Maryland Plant and Supplies, Jolly Farmer, Michell Company, and Esbenshades Greenhouses are but a few places available to purchase plant plugs. A search online will add many companies to this list. Most companies will al-low you to visit their greenhouses and pick up your order on specified days of the week.
For mail orders most use FedEx and UPS delivery for a small delivery charge.
You can visit local greenhouses and ask where they purchase their plant plugs. Most will tell you, although a growing number of retail greenhouses now purchase finished plants in pots ready for sales in their greenhouses.
Some greenhouse companies may want you to go through a “broker” when ordering your plants. This is not a problem and the broker commission is paid for by the greenhouse company. Brokers simply take care of the paperwork for the greenhouse growers.
Enjoy your spring growing experiences and possibly write an article about them, both positive and negative.