Plant Care: rehabbing shipped and imported plants

Note: These are my opinions and experiences, I am no expert and I have not been paid or incentivised to share my thoughts and reviews of any sellers, products or people mentioned in this post.

In the last two months I have experimented a bit with importing plants. I have done this the easy way, where the company does all the paperwork and they have a broker in my country, so I do not have to extra paperwork, like you might if you imported directly from Indonesia or so.
So in short I can’t give advice on that but I am sure there are facebook groups which can give advice.

Receiving these imported plants made me think a bit about how I treat them differently than plants from a local shop or private seller.

Locally shipped plants – 1-5 days transit

If the plant was sent from a shop or private seller I tend to leave it in the medium it came in for around 2 weeks and monitor how it settles in. I have made the mistake of trying to convert plants from soil to pon straight away and it resulted in root rot every time so far (3 times). And I then have to re root the plant. Not a massive problem but it is just more time consuming that enjoying the plant straight away if you get root rot. 😛

Say the plant was sent bare root wrapped in moss I even try to leave it in moss for a bit in high humidity and wait for new root growth in my conditions before moving it to another medium.

These plants from local shops or private sellers generally have only been on the move for 2-3 days. I have bought some from Europe before Brexit and the most the plants were in a box was 5 days. So this is how I have been treating them as well.

Imported plants – 7-10+ transit

Importing plants tends to take 7-10 days or more from what I gather. A lot of the slowdown for me seems to be the check at the border as they only check two days a week. Sigh. So far I have had two types of plants, Anthuriums and Philodendrons. I have noticed a slight difference on how they seem to cope or not with the shipping but this could also be that specific type of plant.

Anthuriums for me seem to have coped much better with the shipping. Generally they have a reasonable root system with some roots still hydrated and healthy looking, while philodendron roots are a lot thinner and they seem to dry out and rot when dehydrated more. Regardless I tend to put the plants in water when they arrived and I gently shower them in room temperature water. I add a tiny amount of super thrive as well. After 12-24 hours I cut off any rotted or mushy roots and spray the roots with a weak mixture of hydrogen peroxide.

This leaf suddenly turned yellow. I checked the roots and there were some rotting ones I cut off and some growing so not all bad.

Generally most shipped plants with benefit from a good environment to continue rooting in. You are likely to lose more roots over the next two weeks, so allowing the plant the best chance to root will be beneficial.

I have experimented with some different ways but what seems to work well for me is sphagnum moss, chunky perlite and a bit of pon. I mostly add the pon as I want to grow my plants in eventually and found this to be easier to transition that pure moss. I then place the plants near my humidifier and on top of a warm place, such as on a heating mat. For some plants it is beneficially to also place them in a big plastic bag and blow some air in it to up the humidity. I did this with my Anthurium Regale as it seemed to cope less well (It had 1 root left).

Sometimes if the roots are very bad it might be beneficial to reduce the amounts of leaves your plant has to let it focus on root growth. I did this with my Philodendron Plowmanii. The oldest leaves already looked worse for wear but I cut off another leaf to let it stabilise itself. It was very floppy but then seemed to perk up a bit.

rehab box on top of a heat mat. I wrap the pot in clingfm for extra humidity

Rehabbing can take a long time so you have to be patient and keep the plants in a consistent environment. A rule of thumb I have observed is that decline will happy within 2 weeks if the conditions are not right. You might notice extra yellow leaves or wet/cripsy tips of leaves. This often means for me that I need to check the roots but I try to only do this every 2 weeks unless the plant changes dramatically to avoid adding more stress. Clear pots really help with this. You can try and position the roots to one side so you can observe if they rot or grow. Do not panic though if you see a little bit of rot, especially if you also see growth. Watering with a low solution of hydrogen peroxide can help in this situation, something like 3ml to 1 litre of water of the 3% hydrogen peroxide stuff.

Another benefit of the clear pots is, that you can observe the moisture content and this can help you with watering the plant adequately. Having a high humidity environment may mean you have to water less so do keep that in mind.

High humidity loving plants are placed next to the humidifier

The main thing to try and do is monitor your plants for sign if decline, monitor the root growth and humidify levels and go from there. Eventually they will grow roots and their first new leaf. The first new leaf should be good sign that the plant is settled. This can take anything from 4 weeks to 3 months in my experience so far depending on the type of plant, its maturity and how many roots it had.

Remember if things do go bad you may be able to save any stump/chonk or nodes and re grow the plant from there.

My list of items on amazon that I use for rehabbing plants.

Rehabbing Plants

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