Plug plants

Buying plug plants is a great way of getting ahead with your gardening plans, as well as a crafty way to save a bit of cash… The range of varieties available is also broader than what you can get in the garden centre, and your plugs and plants should reach you in optimum condition, thanks to advanced technologies. However, occasionally, the mail handler may not be as gentle with your plants as we’d like them to be…  but it doesn’t have to be fatal for your plants. Their appearance can be easily fixed, and most plants will bounce back within a short space of time.

Here, I’ve put together a handy guide covering the most common issues with mail order plug plants, and how to fix them!

1. Why do my plug plants have yellow leaves!?

Plug plants - yellow leaves

It’s very normal, after up to a week in the postal system, for plants to have some yellow leaves when they arrive. This won’t harm the plant at all, simply remove them so that the plant puts all its energy into new growth instead. Yellowing leaves is a symptom of the plant being in a dark box, without access to light which is usually needed for green foliage!

2. Why are there broken stems on my plug plants?

Very occasionally, your plant might suffer a few broken stems whilst it’s in the box in transit, or as you lift it out of the box. This will of course affect the aesthetic of the plant, but it actually won’t harm it at all. In fact, in place of that broken stem, you’ll often find that two new stems will grow in its place, thus giving you a much more branching plant in the future.

3. My plug plants are wet!

Plug plants - wet plants


Some plants, such as Begonias, have quite a succulent leaves. After being in the mail order packaging for a few days, things can become a little bit sweaty. When the plants arrive with you, you may see some foliage is a little bit wet, and may have broken away from the stem. Open up the box as soon as possible, stand the plant upright, and allow them to dry out before doing anything else.

4. My plug plants are so dry!

Your plants may also be too dry. On the day they are dispatched from the nursery, your young plants are watered, but of course this may not last the whole journey in the postal system. If your plants do look dry upon arrival, stand them up in the trays they have been dispatched in, and give them a drink of water as soon as possible. Supply water to them until the plugs are moist again.

5. What happens next?

If you’ve ordered plug plants, they will often need to be potted on into pots of at least 7cm in diameter. It’s advised that they are then grown on on the windowsill, or in a greenhouse, until they are well rounded plants. This will take around 4 weeks. You can use plastic pots, old yoghurt pots, or module trays, just make sure there is drainage in whatever container you choose. If the roots on your plants look a little bit restricted, spread them out a little bit with your fingers before you plant the plug. And another thing, if they have tiny little flowers on them, snap those off. It might sound crazy, but by removing those, you will let the plant put all of its energy into growing a framework, rather than flowering when it’s so young.

Need some more info?

Watch the quick video below for a visual guide on caring for mail order plug plants after you receive them.


Main image by Dwight Sipler using this licence

  • Rod

    Those photos of the plugs plants are no were near what have been sent to me just lately and I suspect other buyers also. It looks to me has your leaving these tips to get out of replacing badly damaged and transported plug plants.

    June 5, 2020
    • Julie Barker

      Have to agree with your comment rod I’ve never had such dreadful plants delivered from QVC as I have this year and no way can the postle system be blamed . The plants have been so sub standard it’s been heartbreaking. I dread a delivery as know they are going to be either dry twigs or rotton stems theres no in between.

      June 14, 2020
  • Rod

    Yet I have had lots of quibble when I complained about the state my plug plants and even some ready to plant items have been sent to me. They were not very helpful and in some case’s, because it took some time to sort an issue, QVC had sold out, so no replacement was available.

    June 18, 2020

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