Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Tag Does NOT Always Speak the Truth

This past week I was out at the fairgrounds, helping to identify some plants that were being placed in the flower shows. It never fails, there are LOTS of people out there that have no clue what they are growing. Yet, they want to enter their prized plants. We get the, it has pretty pink flowers, or, it changes color in the Fall.
To enter a flower show, you need to know the botanical names, as well as the common names.
As any of you that know me, I am a stickler for tags. Just ask my Mother. I like to know what the plant is. That way I know if I need to grow it in the sun, or shade, without taking a chance of cooking it.
However, with that being said, Tags are NOT the be all, to end all. I refer back to the helping identify plants for the flower show. I am the Citrus Guy, just look at the name on the blog you are reading!! I know a little something about Citrus.
We had a woman bring in a monster of a Lemon. It was a very nice specimen. She put it in as a Meyer Lemon. I said, "No, it's not a Meyer, it is a Ponderosa Lemon". She said, "The label that came with the tree says it is a Meyer Lemon". I pulled out my books and showed everybody the difference between a Meyer and a Ponderosa. Meyers have more of a nipple. Ponderosa more flat on the bottom. This was not even discussing the size. Meyers DO NOT get that big. I tried to explain that tags can be wrong. Liners can and do get mixed up at nurseries. Tags can get switched on plants. She insisted that the tag is right and that I didn't know what I was talking about.
So, I just walked away from the situation. The fruit was beautiful, made me envious. Well, apparently one of the judges also knows a little bit about Citrus. She ended up getting only an honorable mention because points were taken off for being misnamed.
I tell you this story to get you to do a little homework when buying plants. I, nor anybody else, will ever be able to identify every plant put in front of them. Tags are a very useful tool, but they can be wrong. If you are buying a plant you are familiar with, but lets say it is a different cultivar, research it online. Flower colors, fruit, what have you. I have a friend that really wanted an Orange tree. He went to a place to get said Orange tree. The salesman said, "YES, we have Orange trees, let me run in back and get one". The tree was beautiful. No flowers, fruit or tag, but very healthy. Well, you know where this is going. The next year it flowered and fruited. The fruit never turned Orange. He contacted me to see what was wrong with it. We talked for a while and I went over to his house. It was a Lime. How did I find out? I tasted one of the green fruit, definitely a Lime. The place he bought it from was now out of business, can't imagine why?! He now has a very nice healthy Lime tree and still wants an Orange tree. People can and will say anything!!
So please, while I sing the praises of tags, they are not always right.
Nurseries and Garden Centers have gone to a more efficient tagging system. They are using tags that are more efficient in tracking inventory. There is more information on them. They know there are more people out there that want to know more about the growing conditions of plant they are buying. In the past you would pick up a Cactus and it would read succulent. While all Cacti are succulents, not all succulents are Cacti. Still, there is a long way to go in the world of plant tags.
I know this posting is a little different from the posts I usually make. I just kind of felt bad for the woman with her Lemon and my friend. I really don't want this kind of thing to happen to anybody else. In today's world, there is too much information available out there and sadly too much dishonesty. You should be able to know exactly what you are getting. Hopefully, this will help at least one person.
On a closing note. Tuesday is election day here in the United States. Those close to me know which way I lean politically and I am not going to bring it up now, it does not belong in a gardening blog. But, I will say this....I don't care if you like Donkeys or Elephants. I don't care if you drink Tea. It doesn't matter if you are Conservative or Liberal. PLEASE, get your fannies out there and VOTE!!
Happy Growing!

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