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I gasped when I saw the price of lisianthus plugs this year: $76 for 210-cell flats of the 'Mariachi' series and $51 for 'Echo'. That seemed a lot higher than I remembered, so I checked my records and, guess what? It's the same price as 2007 and not much higher than 2005. So it's not the plug producers who are raising my input costs every year. Bless their hearts! They know we're all in this together. There's not much they can do about the cost of shipping the plugs, though, and I know that cost does keep going up every year.
Even so, I am not tempted in the least to grow my own lisianthus plugs. To do so, I would have been forced to heat my greenhouse beginning in December because lisianthus is a very slow-growing plant. I can guarantee that would have cost a lot more, like maybe three or four times more, than the price I will pay to Gro 'n Sell and FedEx combined.
On the other hand, I would not buy plugs for the flowers that don't need to be started until March, when the weather has warmed enough that I need to heat the greenhouse only a little at night. I would much rather plant my own seeds of fast growers– rudbeckia, celosia, ammi, salvia, basil, grasses, and all the other summer annuals. It's much more fun than unpacking boxes!
(At left: Lisianthus 'Mariachi Orchid')