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Tropical Pant Shortage: What’s the Deal?

Updated: Mar 21, 2022

Now is probably one of the worst times to be a tropical plant collector and grower. That might seem dramatic, but it is true--it’s not easy to get your hands on some of your most loved tropical plants at the moment.

If you find yourself heading to your local nursery or garden store, you might notice a stark lack of the most popular ornamental plants that are typically seen around this season. This lack of inventory has left gardeners puzzled, and wondering why 2021 seems to be completely devoid of the tropicalesque houseplants that are a favorite this time of year.

But, what exactly led to this shortage of plants in North America? What can we point the finger at in order to identify and rectify this issue? Well, in short… It’s complicated.

  • Storms and Pandemics.

It’s nearly impossible to sum up every aspect of the plant shortage in a single short blog post. However, the crux of it can be explained in pretty simple terms. The past year has been a time of pandemic, as well as a massive series of storms in Texas that ravaged the plant industry. First, let’s talk about the storms.

  • The Storms.

In February of 2021 the state of Texas, the home of many major nurseries, was ravaged by three tropical storms in succession. These storms destroyed power grids, caused mass flooding, and reduced local temperatures to below freezing. It became known as the “Texas Freeze’. This led to tens of millions of dollars in plant inventory being destroyed completely. Growers in the south are still recovering from this devastation.

  • The Pandemic.

It’s no secret that the world has been experiencing a pandemic. If you haven’t heard already… This national lockdown that the USA underwent saw a huge spike in gardeners and plant lovers diving headfirst into the hobby and buying far more plants than they would have normally. If you’re going to be home all the time, it might as well be lively and cozy, right?

This influx of plant purchasing saw distributors dipping into their 2021 stock in order to meet the new demand. That depleted the stock for this year, and wasn’t helped by the aforementioned storms.

  • What Does This Mean?

So, it’s easy to see why there is a shortage of tropical plants at the moment. Aside from these two major hurdles, there have also been issues overseas with civil unrest in plant producing countries as well. This has compounded into the perfect recipe for the plant shortage that we see today.

So, what can you do? Well, the only real answer is to wait it out. Try to replace your tropical plant spaces with easier to access plants such as Begonia or Coleus. These will give you that ‘tropical’ feel and fix without worrying too much about searching far and wide for plants that aren’t available.

In the end, the market will recover. It will take some time, but for now, it’s tough to be a tropical plant lover for sure.

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