As I was strolling through one of the big box stores one day last winter, a day when it was snowing and blowing and frigidly cold, I wondered to myself, "How do these tropical plants make it into the store if they arrive on a day like this?" It's one thing to have a transport vehicle have a controlled environment inside its cargo hold, but how do they get from the truck to the inside of the store?
I was fairly certain the trucks don't always have the advantage of driving into a building for unloading, and when a single cold, snowy blast of winter can do irreparable damage to so many kinds of plants we see on display, I wondered what the procedure was for getting them safely inside.
Costa Farms is the number one distributor of houseplants in North America and based in Miami, Florida. I contacted them to get some answers to my questions. Mike Rimland, "The Plant Collector" and director of business development at Costa Farms, says this:
"We transport all our plants in climatized trucks at 65 degrees. We package some plants with paper sleeves wrapped around the top of the pot to lift the leaves upright as this is good for plants. If not with sleeves, we ship on specialized rolling carts called CC carts which were designed for moving plants in Europe.
99% of all plants in Europe move CC carts; CC stands for Container Centralen’s which invented a worldwide cart distribution and pickup service.
The trucks we use when arriving at your local large retailer all have doors that the trucks back up to, which are protected by heavy plastic drapes. The plants, as with food products, never see the outside world in summer or winter."
It takes a plant anywhere from 3-5 days to get to Ohio, where I live, and 5-7 days to get to someplace like Seattle. They ship to Canada, Central America, and Europe, and on occasion, the Middle East.
I also asked Mike if they do anything special to prepare them for the journey to their destination:
"Most of the plants you see in Ohio from us started anywhere from 9 months to 2 years earlier as a baby plant. We start plants from seeds, cuttings and more and more from tissue culture.
All of our indoor plants are grown in lower light conditions so that they are partially ready for the indoor lower light levels that they will be hanging out in people’s homes across America. We do this so that they are happy, and if they are happy they will sit there, look pretty, and become friends of the people who buy them.
By the way it is okay to talk to your plants; we just hope that if one day one talks back, someone will let us have it back so we can make more of them."
What? Your plants don't talk back to you, Mike?
Thank you, Mike, for taking the time to answer my questions and satisfying my curiosity! And thank you, Costa Farms, for providing such a wide array of lovely plants for all of us to enjoy!