by Connie Oswald Stofko
You’re probably familiar with four-packs and six-packs, those plastic containers that hold four or six small plants. This year Mike Weber Greenhouses is introducing something called Elle Pots.
“Think of a four- or six-pack without all that plastic,” said Jen Weber, vice president and manager of Mike Weber Greenhouses, 42 French Rd., West Seneca.
The Elle Pots start with a tube of strong, biodegradable paper that is filled with potting mix. Seeds or cuttings are planted into the paper tubes.
The paper tubes are set in large trays, but it’s the paper, not the tray, that is the real container for the plant.
Advantages for gardeners
Choose the individual plants you want and place them in a carrying tray to take home. With Elle (pronounced Ellie or Ella) Pots, you don’t have the four- and six-pack plastic containers in addition to a carrying tray.
And the tray is recyclable. You can return it to Mike Weber’s and they’ll use it again.
All of the plants in Elle Pots at Mike Weber’s are also organic, Weber said.
Buy the number of plants you want
You aren’t stuck buying plants in multiples of four or six. You can buy just two or three. Or seven. Or 31. You can mix and match varieties and colors of the same price.
Plant size is great for mixed containers
Express your personality by choosing the annuals and colors that you want to create your own hanging baskets, window boxes and containers. The size of these “plugs” (small plants) works well for containers.
And since they are priced at about $1 each, “you can do a mass border planting and it’s not as expensive,” Weber said.
People like the succulents as favors at bridal and baby showers, Weber said. They are also good for making hanging succulent gardens like the ones seen here.
You can order now online by choosing “Order” at the top of the homepage or calling 822-8887. They have curbside pickup.
The retail store will open Friday, April 24. Hours will be 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Saturday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. The store will be open to 20 customers at a time.
How to plant
Keep the paper on!
Don’t take the paper off!
“You will kill the plant,” Weber said. “If you remove the paper, you’ll take the roots off. You’ll have a green plant in one hand and a root ball in the other.”
The paper is biodegradable.
How many plants will you need?
Expect to use one plug for two inches of your container. If you have a 10-inch hanging basket in April or May, you will need five plugs.
The later you plant, the more plugs you will need to make the container look full quickly. In July, your 10-inch hanging basket would need eight or nine plugs.
When to plant annuals
Some of the annuals offered by Mike Weber’s in Elle Pots can be outside now and some can’t.
Petunias, verbena and calibrachoa for flowers and vinca vine and licorice for foliage can tolerate cool temperatures, Weber said. If there is no chance of frost and nights don’t go below the 40s Fahrenheit, you can leave them outside. Otherwise, put them out during day and place them in the garage at night.
Mike Weber Greenhouses has acclimated these plants to cooler temperatures in the greenhouses, so don’t bring them into your house.
“You will harm them if you put them in the house,” Weber said. “They’ll get long and leggy and start to turn yellow.”
Another plant used for foliage is lysimachia (creeping jenny), which is a perennial. Mike Weber Greenhouses has hardened it off, so it can go outside now. Lysimachia doesn’t have to go in the garage unless the temperature goes below 32 degrees. If that’s in the forecast, cover the plant.
“The nighttime temperature is what you have to watch,” she noted.
All the other annuals offered in Elle Pots need nighttime temperatures of 60 degrees, or 55 in a sheltered area.
If you buy them now, keep them in the house.
Some people plant them in baskets and hang the basket in the kitchen until the weather is warm enough. A couple of gardeners plant them in tea cups or mugs until it’s time to transplant them outside, Weber said. Or you can place the Elle Pots on a boot tray with some water on the bottom until it’s time to transplant them.