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Tropical Plants: Shipping Heliconia rhizomes

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deedeedink
Newport Beach, CA
(Zone 10b)

August 29, 2012
4:59 PM

Post #9258670

I'm not sure this is the right forum, but I looked in the "Trading Plants" forum and all I saw was about irises. I'm planning a trade to London (I'm in California) with rhizomes of Heliconia Schiedeana. I'm not sure exactly what the best method is? Do I dig up a good size rhizome that is fully leafed out, and cut the leaf stalk down to a couple of inches? That's the way I've bought them at plant sales, so I assume that's OK? Do you just need a good hunk of the tuber, or do you need to try and dig one with another ''eye" like a canna rhizome? Do you cut all the roots off, or leave the large ones? I have to send them bare root, as they won't allow soil (live plants) through customs. I think I need to dry them, so they don't arrive a moldy mess, but how long do you dry them? I let one sit in the house for about four days, and the cut part of the leaf stalk had already turned black? It didn't look good... but we are having nice hot weather right now, so apparently I need to dry them outside? Should I dust them with sulphur? If so, how much, and when? It's the only fungicide I have.

Any input would be greatly appreciated. I don't want to send a bad trade out and have someone disappointed over the rhizomes they receive.
ardesia
Saint Helena Island, SC
(Zone 9a)

August 30, 2012
8:39 AM

Post #9259222

I think the sulfur idea is a good one, that should prevent any mold which would be looked on negatively by customs. Why don't you call your local extension service for advice or better yet, your state agriculture dept.and ask about shipping regulations. Better to stay well within the law. It believe they can give you a certificate verifying it is insect and disease free and legal to ship.
deedeedink
Newport Beach, CA
(Zone 10b)

August 30, 2012
9:55 AM

Post #9259323

Thanks, Ardesia for the input. As long as they are bare root, it's OK. I'm more worried about the mechanics of shipping though. I've never shipped anything that far, and I'm wondering how long to dry the rhizomes? Can you overdry them? That kind of thing. And how much of a root do you need to send to be viable? Is the greatest part of the root all you need? Do you cut the roots off? That's what I'm wondering about?

dyzzypyxxy

dyzzypyxxy
Sarasota, FL
(Zone 9b)

August 30, 2012
11:04 AM

Post #9259397

Hm, my heliconias are in full growth and bloom right now. If I were shipping any rhizomes at this time of year, I'd definitely send a rhizome with at least one bud on it, leave as much root on it as possible, and keep it as damp as possible. In fact, if any of the people I trade with in the US wanted heliconias right now, I'd send a rhizome with leaves on it, too.

Wrap it in damp paper towels, then enclose it in maybe a partly inflated ziploc bag, or aluminum foil, then some bubble wrap, and put it in a box. Orchid growers use cinnamon powder to dust the roots against fungus and bacteria. Works great!

You are talking about London, England right? Even there, the plants won't go dormant for another couple of months.

When the plant is dormant (in winter) you can dry the rhizome, keep it cool (but not let it freeze for heliconias) and expect it to ship that way just fine. In fact, if your trade partner is willing to wait, later in the season when the plant is going dormant would be a better time to ship them, I would think.

As Ardesia said, I'd definitely check with your local plant police about regulations. Sometimes - or I should say to some places - ANY plant material is subject to inspection and quarantine.
deedeedink
Newport Beach, CA
(Zone 10b)

August 30, 2012
2:14 PM

Post #9259587

Thanks dyzz--I love the cinnamon trick! I'd never heard that, and the package will smell good too :) I was thinking of sending ones with a new small stalk on it, (since the size of the box is important) in the hopes that it would start quicker, but I wasn't sure about leaving the roots on. Makes sense though, if you've got green growth, you'd want roots too, now that you mention it. Someone said somewhere that sphagnum moss has an anti bacterial in it so maybe that would work instead of a damp paper towel? That and the cinnamon combined should help control any mold, maybe. I'm just worried about sending the guy a slimy mess. I would feel so bad.
The Londoner (yes it's England) has checked on his end and as long as it's not "live plants" he feels it will make it through Customs, and he says worst case scenario is that they'll confiscate it and send him a letter. He's willing to chance it for postage though, so I guess it's worth a shot.

I'm sure you're right about sending dormant plants, but I know I've had a rough time getting dried Heliconia to root in the winter in my weather; I'm more likely to rot them than get them going. And I'm Z10. I thought maybe he'd have a better chance of getting some growth going while he's still got a month of warm weather, so I was trying to get them to him ASAP.
ardesia
Saint Helena Island, SC
(Zone 9a)

August 30, 2012
3:08 PM

Post #9259632

Any bits of green stem or roots makes it a live plant.

dyzzypyxxy

dyzzypyxxy
Sarasota, FL
(Zone 9b)

August 30, 2012
3:23 PM

Post #9259647

LoL, if the authorities think that a bare root plant is not a "live plant", right? If you do send rhizomes with shoots on them, that would be the best thing he could ask for. I'd definitely wrap them loosely in foil, in case the customs people x-ray the package. The foil might disguise the live shoots enough to get it through. Yes, sphagnum would be fine in there as well. Soak it then squeeze it out so it's not dripping and pad the roots with it. Along with the cinnamon treatment, I'd think they should come through just fine, even if it takes a week or so to get there.

Good luck! Elaine

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dyzzypyxxy

dyzzypyxxy
Sarasota, FL
(Zone 9b)

August 30, 2012
3:34 PM

Post #9259658

Ps. when you fill out the customs sticker for the package, write "bare-root heliconia rhizomes" which is the truth. Maybe all they're concerned with is any plant with soil. Lots of bulbs and other bare-root things I've ordered have come from the Netherlands, many with roots, and shoots as well.
ardesia
Saint Helena Island, SC
(Zone 9a)

August 30, 2012
4:20 PM

Post #9259715

I think the key is the certificate from your ag dept. indicating it is free of disease then customs "might" not even look at it. I have had customs hold up packages for months, you don't want to chance that.
deedeedink
Newport Beach, CA
(Zone 10b)

August 30, 2012
5:09 PM

Post #9259778

Well, we're kind of hoping that a live plant in customs is one with soil attached...but you make a good point, bare root is really stretching it, especially with a live shoot getting ready to go... ;) I do like the silver foil idea though. If I do send him dried stuff right now, do you think they'd still root decently? I've bought the dormant ones like you say, and rooted them, but I've never tried to root a kind of stripped down one that had been growing recently.

deedeedink
Newport Beach, CA
(Zone 10b)

August 30, 2012
5:20 PM

Post #9259794

ardesia wrote:I think the key is the certificate from your ag dept. indicating it is free of disease then customs "might" not even look at it. I have had customs hold up packages for months, you don't want to chance that.

Ardesia, in looking at the Calif website for our Ag. Dept., it seems like all they care about is what you IMPORT into Calif. I couldn't find anything about sending plants out of Calif. Does your Ag Dept. certify plants for export for home gardeners? I know there's a Phyto. Cert you can get if you're exporting lots of stuff, but I believe it would be prohibitive for a couple of heliconia rhizomes. To say the least.

dyzzypyxxy

dyzzypyxxy
Sarasota, FL
(Zone 9b)

August 30, 2012
5:41 PM

Post #9259815

That's right, it's the English ag inspectors who will be the holdup. You're also right, it's not worth going through the Phyto Certification for a few rhizomes. Wash all the dirt off, dust with cinnamon, wrap in sterile sphagnum. Done deal.

If your trade partner in London is willing to risk it, I'd send it bare-root, damp and growing. Just make sure he sends you the postage, maybe ask him for it in advance? That way it's entirely his risk. Nobody's going to come back on you for sending a plant your friend requested.

I think if you dried a rhizome from a plant that's actively growing in the middle of summer, and cut off all its roots it would die. Not to mention it will take weeks for you to get it dried enough to qualify as not a "live plant" anyway. My heli's never dry out, even when they're dormant. The leaves die back to the ground, but the rhizomes underground are always firm and moist.
deedeedink
Newport Beach, CA
(Zone 10b)

September 1, 2012
11:40 AM

Post #9261529

Thanks Dyzz, I think that's the way to go. Customs is going to consider rhizomes living also, so I might as well send a growing shoot like you say, and give the guy the best possible chance of a good plant, since it could get confiscated either way. I've been trying to dry a few roots I'd already dug up as an experiment, and they're looking more nasty, and less dry than I'd like. So thanks, everybody for the advice, and I'll keep my fingers crossed!

dyzzypyxxy

dyzzypyxxy
Sarasota, FL
(Zone 9b)

September 1, 2012
3:57 PM

Post #9261738

Let us know what happens, Deedee? Good luck.
deedeedink
Newport Beach, CA
(Zone 10b)

September 12, 2012
1:39 PM

Post #9273279

Hey, I just heard my plants made it! Yay! I'm not sure what it says about English customs, but I'm glad they made it. And he said they came through with flying colors and NEW white roots growing in the sphagnum!! Amazing! It only took seven days for him to get them, and that was just 1st class mail, not priority. Cool!
ardesia
Saint Helena Island, SC
(Zone 9a)

September 13, 2012
3:45 AM

Post #9273768

Way to go! That is amazing, I ran into problems years ago when someone tried to send me bulbs from England, customs over there would not let the box out of the country.

dyzzypyxxy

dyzzypyxxy
Sarasota, FL
(Zone 9b)

September 13, 2012
7:42 AM

Post #9273936

That's great, Deedee, but I wouldn't make a habit out of doing that. I think a bit of luck was involved this time.
deedeedink
Newport Beach, CA
(Zone 10b)

September 13, 2012
10:11 AM

Post #9274048

Yeah, I agree. There was probably an even chance that it wouldn't have made it. Since the guy was willing to risk it, and put his money on the line, it was his decision, but I don't think I'll make a habit out of this, I think it was just the challenge of a first time. Somehow it was kinda fun!
However, I did take a hint from how well it they did in the spaghnum, and pulled out a canna root that's not doing too well (Stuttgart) and thought I'd try it. I over watered it (as usual--I never learn), it had a little rot, which I cut off, and we'll see how it goes. Maybe I'm on to a new rooting technique. Since I won't be watering it at all in it's baggie, I figure I have less of a chance of over-fussing it to death. The harder something is to root, the more I seem to mess with it, and somehow that never really works to the plants benefit. I need to be more hands-OFF!

dyzzypyxxy

dyzzypyxxy
Sarasota, FL
(Zone 9b)

September 13, 2012
1:28 PM

Post #9274181

Yeah, I'm a risk-taker myself, and it's always kinda fun.

You're so right about the rooting thing, it's always worked best for me if I put it in the medium, then set it aside and don't look at it for a week or two. Kind of surprising, your cannas rotting - I've always found you literally can't overwater cannas! They even will grow in standing water here. Maybe it's because you're cooler there, on the coast? On the other hand, I've had some live over winter in a bucket of water!

Did your Stuttgarts have the pretty variegated leaves? I've tried them twice - from two different suppliers - and just got nice, small orange flowers and plain blue-green leaves. They persist in popping up all over the garden, but never have any variegation.

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deedeedink
Newport Beach, CA
(Zone 10b)

September 13, 2012
1:48 PM

Post #9274209

I know, right? How do you over-water a canna? Somehow I managed. I got one of the tubers to sprout nicely (in the same pot) but why the other one decided to go downhill-I dunno? Suicidal? Not happy about being on the "left" coast? I got them in a trade from South Carolina, and the one that sprouted has sent up a pure white stalk! Pretty cool, but it's only about 3 inches--I just got it a few weeks ago. So, yes, I did get the variegated leaf variety. I'm hoping to put it in my pond, in the shade, when it's all grown up.
I had one years ago, but I put it in too much sun and the leaves were always burned. It was never very vigorous, and just kind of melted away after a few years. So hopefully more shade will keep it happier.

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