Don’t buy problems

Sometimes where you shop matters, because if you buy plants at the wrong place you run the risk of importing new problems into your garden. Those cheap plants you grab on a whim sometimes are far more trouble than they are worth.

I learned (or relearned…) this the hard way last year when I grabbed a bag of super cheap gladiolus corms at a box store. They were cheap, and pretty… and infested with gladiolus thrips.

White marks on the flower are signs of an early infestation of gladiolus thrips. As the summer goes on, the damage gets worse and worse.

At first, they just caused a few small white marks and discolorations on my flowers, but by the end of the season the population was so high that almost every bloom was totally deformed and ugly.

The solution? Getting all my corms this year from a specialty grower who sends high quality corms which have been properly treated with cold temperatures to kill all the thrips. This particular thrips can’t survive my cold Michigan winters, so by buying clean stock this year my garden is totally gladiolus thrips free.

As an added bonus… the specialty growers have MUCH cooler varieties. Like this Gladiolus ‘Huron Mask’ which has become one of my all-time favorites.

Gladiolus 'Huron Mask'
Gladiolus ‘Huron Mask’

Published by

Linda Chalker-Scott

Dr. Linda Chalker-Scott has a Ph.D. in Horticulture from Oregon State University and is an ISA certified arborist and an ASCA consulting arborist. She is WSU’s Extension Urban Horticulturist and an Associate Professor in the Department of Horticulture, and holds two affiliate associate professor positions at University of Washington. She conducts research in applied plant and soil sciences, publishing the results in scientific articles and university Extension fact sheets. Linda also is the award-winning author of five books: the horticultural myth-busting The Informed Gardener (2008) and The Informed Gardener Blooms Again (2010) from the University of Washington Press and Sustainable Landscapes and Gardens: Good Science – Practical Application (2009) from GFG Publishing, Inc., and How Plants Work: The Science Behind the Amazing Things Plants Do from Timber Press (2015). Her latest effort is an update of Art Kruckeberg’s Gardening with Native Plants of the Pacific Northwest from UW Press (2019). In 2018 Linda was featured in a video series – The Science of Gardening – produced by The Great Courses. She also is one of the Garden Professors – a group of academic colleagues who educate and entertain through their blog and Facebook pages. Linda’s contribution to gardeners was recognized in 2017 by the Association for Garden Communicators as the first recipient of their Cynthia Westcott Scientific Writing Award. "The Garden Professors" Facebook page - "The Garden Professors" Facebook group - Books:

2 thoughts on “Don’t buy problems”

  1. So true. When a friend complained that the “pink” daffodils purchased from a big box store were not as described, we had a discussion about supporting specialty growers when a specific product is desired.

  2. I know this article is 4 years old. It’s still very relevant in 2019. I usually buy from a reputable family-owned nursery for live plants, a reputable seed e-commerce, and reputable specialty bulb grower. But, I still managed to grab a (cheap) annuals container while shoping for a new pair of gardening gloves. In it was a petunia infected with Potato Mosaic Virus. Only noticed it after transplanting to a larger pot, and touching a bunch of plants, tools, seedlings, etc. Cue 3 full vacation days quarantining, sanitizing, burning, inspecting, and worrying. Never again!

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