Annuals forum: Styrofoam in bedding plants

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Name: Tiffany
Opp, AL 🌵🌷⚘🌹🌻 (Zone 8b)
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purpleinopp
Apr 30, 2015 3:15 PM CST
Found in a 6-pack of Begonias from Lowe's. They know millions of these are going to be planted in the ground. It's definitely not perlite, it smushes flat, then bounces mostly back into shape, totally soft. Do you want to bury styrofoam in your yard?

Thumb of 2015-04-30/purpleinopp/476257
Thumb of 2015-04-30/purpleinopp/2dc60a

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Name: Caroline Scott
Calgary (Zone 4a)
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CarolineScott
Apr 30, 2015 3:37 PM CST
Yuk! No!
Name: Tiffany
Opp, AL 🌵🌷⚘🌹🌻 (Zone 8b)
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purpleinopp
Jul 23, 2015 3:25 PM CST
I'm still picking bits of styrofoam out of the ground.
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Name: Tiffany
Opp, AL 🌵🌷⚘🌹🌻 (Zone 8b)
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purpleinopp
Feb 13, 2017 8:45 AM CST
Still picking bits of styrofoam out of the ground and am missing pansies so much. I didn't even bother going shopping for winter plants this year.
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Name: ZenMan
rural Kansas (Zone 5b)
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ZenMan
Feb 13, 2017 1:08 PM CST
Hi Tiffany,

" I didn't even bother going shopping for winter plants this year. "

Was that because you thought they might have Styrofoam in their planting media? I don't think Styrofoam is a universal problem -- some growers have used it as a cheap substitute for Perlite, but not all do. Do you object to Styrofoam in the soil simply because it isn't a "natural" soil component? I can see how an Organic Gardener might be offended by Styrofoam, simply because it isn't "organic".

I live in a rural area, and we do have some foreign objects in our garden soil -- some broken pottery and glass and various sizes of nails, tacks, and staples. I pick up all such "sharp" stuff just to make the garden soil safer to work in. I don't go looking for it, but I keep a container in my shirt pocket in case I spot a dangerous item. However, I would not bother to pick up Styrofoam pieces or beads, simply because they don't pose a threat to personal injury.

ZM
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Name: Tiffany
Opp, AL 🌵🌷⚘🌹🌻 (Zone 8b)
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purpleinopp
Feb 13, 2017 1:55 PM CST
Hi! Thanks for your response.

I didn't bother because every 6-pack of annuals I've bought for the past 5-6 yrs had styro in it. I wasn't going to drive 45 minutes away to hope that wasn't the case this year, then go home empty-handed and also $10 poorer for the gas it took.

I object on several fronts. First, it's trash, I don't want bits of any kind of trash being purposely buried in my yard, I don't live in a landfill. Second, it does nothing to 'amend' soil. Third, it's ugly to look at. Fourth, unless picked up, it just stays there indefinitely.
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Name: ZenMan
rural Kansas (Zone 5b)
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ZenMan
Feb 13, 2017 3:43 PM CST
Hi Tiffany,

Thanks for your clarification. I don't agree entirely with your rationale (Styrofoam beads and Perlite look very similar), but I do agree that you have the right to feel as you do. So, more power to you on picking up those "bits of trash". By picking up nails in my garden, I am just depriving my plants of iron, so an argument could be made against what I do as well.

ZM
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Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
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Baja_Costero
Feb 13, 2017 3:53 PM CST
For what it's worth, styrofoam in the soil (recycled peanuts it looks like) would be a disqualifier for me. I would never buy plants from that source again. Personal taste, and desire to have an effect on the market, and desire to keep plastic out of the soil. It's not like rock, gravel, aggregate, whatever you want to call it would be expensive as a substitute. Are you sure there's no other local source for this kind of plants, Tiffany?

I do quite a bit of gardening in landfill (a partially refilled arroyo) and have discovered all sorts of interesting surprises in there, but it's not something I chose and it's definitely something I would choose to avoid.
Name: Tiffany
Opp, AL 🌵🌷⚘🌹🌻 (Zone 8b)
Houseplants Organic Gardener Composter Region: Gulf Coast Miniature Gardening Native Plants and Wildflowers
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purpleinopp
Feb 13, 2017 5:55 PM CST
Thanks for the reply, Baja. WM (20 mins) & L's (just under an hour) are it for buying plants around where I am, unless I want to drive 2 hours away. I've written to both, and to Costa Farms about it.

Zen, Yes, the bits look similar to perlite, and that is why I also avoid that because I dump old soil into beds when repotting potted plants.

I didn't post to advocate for others to adopt my opinions. Just to inform whoever might be interested that if you're buying flats of annuals, some growers are using bits of styrofoam instead of perlite.
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Ontario, Canada (Zone 6a)
Phenolic
Feb 13, 2017 8:33 PM CST
Why not consider ordering seeds online and starting your own plants? You'll have almost 100% control over what goes into your plants and soil that way.
Name: ZenMan
rural Kansas (Zone 5b)
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ZenMan
Feb 14, 2017 1:05 AM CST
purpleinopp said:Still picking bits of styrofoam out of the ground and am missing pansies so much. I didn't even bother going shopping for winter plants this year.

Hi Tiffany,

I feel bad for you that you are missing pansies. Perhaps you could start some of your own indoors under lights in a growing medium that meets your specifications. Most commercial growers do use a growing medium that contains either perlite or the styrofoam, but some growing mediums are available that don't contain either. The use of processed tree bark is becoming more common. Fafard is a brand that uses processed tree bark in some of their products.

http://fafard.com/products/

Some Walmarts carry some Fafard products during the gardening season. If you did take it on yourself to raise your own pansy plants, you would have a tremendously wide range of pansy seeds to pick from -- far more than you would have with commercial flats of pansy plants. I grow zinnias indoors during the Winter in addition to normal outdoor growing, and, although that does entail some effort on my part, I do enjoy the process itself. And I can get some zinnias that would never appear in flats for sale as plants. You might find added enjoyment in growing your own pansy plants from seed. This might be the year to try it. You can get some idea of the range of pansy seeds available from the Hazzard's listing of pansy seeds.

http://www.hazzardsgreenhouse....

Scroll all the way to the bottom of that long page and notice that you have several more pages of pansies to pick from. Hazzards is a commercial seed company, but they do sell to home gardeners as well. They have some things you can't find elsewhere. I purchased some white cactus zinnia seeds from them.

ZM (not associated with any product or vendor mentioned or linked)
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