28 January 2013

How Your Tiny Plant Came To Be



You may have heard this before, but a lot of my emotional bonds to Walt Disney World come from my father. As a child he was the one who talked me out of a birthday party to go to see fireworks and as a teen, long after my mother and sister stopped going with us, he was the driving force that carried he and I to the parks on a regular basis. His favorite park is, without a doubt, Epcot and his favorite pavilion there is The Land. Just as I would not take no for an answer when it came to Horizons, he stood his ground on Listen and Living with the Land. His fascination with the technology of this pavilion propelled me, as a teenager and later as a young adult, to foster my own respect for the science, love of the pavilion, and rabid curiosity.

For the longest time he and I have stared at the Mickey’s Mini Garden displays, filled with tiny plant cultures that guests can take home, and wondered how they do it and more importantly how could we take one home and not kill it overnight. The Land’s Behind the Seeds Tour offered up a few answers as to the ‘how do they do it’ question, but we’ve both been hesitant to take home our own sample and try to grow it. Let’s face it, for a pair of dyed-in-the-wool Epcot enthusiasts, letting one of these cultures die would be like killing off a piece of Epcot with our bare hands!

Earlier this month I found myself staring at the same display on the counter of Green Thumb Emporium, the hole in the wall gift shop in front of the entrance to Soarin’, facing the same dilemma. There is also a terrific little notebook sitting on the counter for the curious that is filled with planting instructions, information on available and unavailable plants due to planting cycles, and even specifics for those concerned about upsetting TSA with this tube in their luggage. After checking out the current available plants and sifting through the ease of transplant, growth, and needs of the individual plants, I mustered up all the courage I could and picked out a rather nice looking Kalanchoe culture and brought it home with me.

Kalanchoe is a succulent plant that can grow up to eighteen inches and has pink flowers. It can grow in full sunlight or partial shade and was listed as ‘Easy to transplant’ and ‘Easy to grow,’ which made me hopeful that it would survive my not-so-green thumb. I’ve allowed it to stay in its tube for the past couple of weeks as we have had some bitter cold here, as most of you have as well. Yesterday, however, I decided it was time to go ahead and give the transplant process a go. Here are the directions provided by the minds of The Land’s living laboratories, I’ll be back later with a few insights.


How To Plant Your Tiny Plant:

1 – Remove it carefully from the test tube without damaging the roots. Gently wash off all the gel under cool running water. Work quickly so your plant doesn’t dry out.

2 – Plant it into sterile potting soil in a small 4-6” pot. Lightly water it. Don’t water it again until the soil surface is dry.

3 – Keep the humidity high around the plant by covering it with a plastic bag, and sealing it around the pot with a rubber band.

4 – After about two weeks poke tiny holes in the bag to let in fresh air. Gradually let in more air over the next two weeks by making the holes larger. Remove the bag once your plant has adjusted to its new environment and has begun to grow.

5 – As the plant gets bigger, transfer it into a larger pot. Handle this plant as you would any other transplant.

For information specific to your plant and local growing climate search online or contact your local extension office.


Obviously, as I have just transplanted the culture from the test tube to the pot, I’ve only reached step 3, but here’s what I’ve found out about the plant and myself.

As I tried to remove the culture and gel from the tube, the gel cracked and took several roots with it, although a majority and the heartiest roots came with the plant and gel that did not break loose. Fingers crossed I didn’t do it in right there…

I did some searches for ‘sterile potting soil,’ and the best results I found required having to bake potting soil in my oven. I’m really pulling for this little plant, but I’m pulling even more to not have to sleep on the couch, so I decided that a fresh bag of potting soil would be preferable to stinking up my house with baked potting soil. I did, however, make sure to find a soil that was supposed to help cuttings.

The size of the plastic bag wasn’t specified, but as it was meant to keep in the humidity, I opted for a sandwich Ziploc bag. Time will tell if that will work, although I’m not sure about when to water as the soil is supposed to be dry, and I can’t get a good sense of it through the plastic bag without removing it.

So, that’s where we stand with my attempt at growing my own piece of The Land with Mickey’s Mini Garden. Hopefully, in about a month, it will be flourishing. Starting next Sunday I’ll put a new album up on our Facebook page to chronicle the weekly progress my little Kalanchoe is making. I’d say wish me luck, but you should probably reserve your luck for the Kalanchoe…

8 comments:

Rich T. said...

Fingers crossed, Ryan! :) As a fellow non-green-thumb-type, all I can say is that it certainly looks like you're treating it right.

The Jackson Family said...

We took one of each of the "baby" plants available home about two years ago. After transplanting, the plants quickly died. Very disappointing. I still have one. It is still in the jar that it came in. It has grown over the last two years inside that container and I suspect before much longer I will have to take it out and transplant. Hoping that it will fare better than the others. Best of luck with your tiny plant. May it flourish!(edited to correct typo hope I got them all :)

Ryan P. Wilson said...

Rich, I used to help my mom with her gardens growing up. As an adult I've learned it was, apparently, her skills that kept the flowers and veggies growing, not mine...

Jacksons, good luck with your next attempt! I'll keep my fingers crossed for you!

Debbie V. said...

I am so going to do this when I go in November. I'm like you = I fear killing something so unique and Epcot. Looking forward to seeing what happens - good or bad. I think like the Jacksons, maybe I should get two plants. How big is the package that it comes in? I'll have to carry it on the plane.

Ryan P. Wilson said...

Debbie, the box is approx. 6"x1.5"x1.5". Here's what Disney says about carrying them home: "TSA allows 3oz containers (or less) of liquid or gel in your carry-on. These jars contain less than 1.0-1.6 oz of media so they should be acceptable. We suggest wrapping it well so the plant doesn't get dislodged from its gel."

Debbie V. said...

Ryan - oh thank you so much for these great details!

Jimena said...

Hi Ryan,I have just transplanted one and had the same problems you did. How is yours now?

Ryan P. Wilson said...

Jimena, it's been potted for three weeks now and is growing strong (despite the unpredictable weather we've been having here)! You can follow it's progress here: http://on.fb.me/UP2S0W