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I tried the Amazon Plants Store and got covered in wet dirt – ANITH
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I tried the Amazon Plants Store and got covered in wet dirt

I tried the Amazon Plants Store and got covered in wet dirt

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As you may know, Amazon sells plants. They’ve been available for a while now, but the retailer’s selection has been in the spotlight recently thanks to the (freshly branded) Amazon Plants Store.

I have a complicated relationship with Mother Nature’s gifts. After murdering an innocent peace lily last winter, I spent a few months off plants entirely, choosing instead to put a polyester-blend fern on my windowsill. Thankfully, times have changed. In fact, I am currently the parent of a moderately healthy Sansevieria cylindrica.

The idea of a living organism arriving at my door in a cardboard box seemed deeply impractical.

Ready to expand my plant collection, I set out to explore my options. In addition to supporting my local greenhouse, I decided to order three plants from the Amazon Plants Store in the name of service journalism. The idea of a living organism arriving at my door in a cardboard box seemed deeply impractical and vaguely (OK, very) dystopian, but I still wanted to try it.

I ordered a pothos ($17.57) and two aloe vera plants ($16.99), all from the brand Costa Farms. Despite being purchased through Amazon Prime, which guaranteed they’d ship within two days, they arrived at my office six days after I placed the order. The shipment came in two separate boxes: one for the pothos and one for the two aloe.

The pothos box was fairly alarming. It was, for one thing, completely caved in on one side — its contents had definitely been impacted. It was also slightly damp. 

Destroyed pothos box (left) and aloe packaging (right).

Destroyed pothos box (left) and aloe packaging (right).

The aloe box seemed fine.

Opening the pothos box was a journey during which I said “shit” seven times. The 6-inch grower’s pot was, technically, wrapped in plastic wrap, but the wrong side of the box was marked “this side up,” so moist soil spilled onto the front of my shirt when I cut it open. The pot, once round, had also been compressed into a thick oval, and the leaves were covered in spilled, clumpy soil. 

Below the dirt, though, it was lush-looking and mostly green, with only a few yellow leaves. (Yellow leaves can indicate poor drainage, which made sense for a plant that possibly had been incubated in a wet box for six days.)

We match.

The aloe plants were wrapped in bubble wrap, and both of their grower’s pots were still round. The plants themselves seemed relatively healthy.

“Those are thick,” a colleague remarked.

That was a week ago. Today, the pothos’s leaves are no longer wet and the caked-on dirt has dried and begun to fall away. Unfortunately, the floor near my desk is now covered in that mud, a sin for which I have yet to atone in any manner. I’ll be frank: thanks to the haphazard manner in which it was packaged and shipped, the pothos is too dirty to be an indoor houseplant. I plan to wash it in my shower. What could go wrong?

The aloe plants, propped up by tiny stakes (included), are still fine. Unlike the pothos, their appearance is un-embarrassing enough that I feel comfortable giving one to my desk mate.

She will grow. (This is not my desk.)

She will grow. (This is not my desk.)

For those who don’t have easy access to houseplants locally, the Amazon Plants Shop is an intriguing idea. None of the plants I received were dead, which technically makes the shop a viable option. And all the plants were affordable.

But unboxing and unwrapping the plants, cleaning them off, righting their travel-worn bodies, and wiping up all the dirt they left behind was a hassle. In fact, it was far more annoying than simply going to the store and buying a plant in person.

And should I find myself ordering another pothos from the internet, I will open the box outdoors. For now, though, I have my work cut out for me keeping this one alive.

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Anith Gopal
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