Sometimes, when the right person comes along and they are connected well enough, you can not in your right mind refuse to babysit their little darling plant. So arm yourself with these helpful hints to slide into the conversation like you are an old farmer talking about how, "Things sure are different here out on the farm."
1. Keep that one plant
All you can handle is one. Just one. You have plans for the greenhouse this winter and their isn't going to be much room.
2. No room at the inn
As you can see, we are slam full of plants. As soon as this crop of x, y, and z are sold then we'll jump right into a. b, and c. So if this is a have to, then we'll just put your plant over here in the corner and hopefully it won't get kicked or knocked over too many times.
3. You know the kids water these and that's through learning
Not much to say here. When the students have to water, it's either all the way or nothing and these extremes don't tend to go over well with plants that have been lovingly cared for.
4. You know how big this is going to get...right?
Year round ideal conditions will turn neat little house plants into monsters. If you have a keen eye for plants, then you'll see the culprits as they walk in the door. Don't offer to repot either, because that's a hassle too. Plus, I'm sure you won't do it right in their eyes.
5. The kids love to see how much they'll grow and they love fertilizer
See #4 and the comment about extremes in #3. You'll either have a monster in the spring or that plant will be dead as a door nail. House plants simply don't need the attention of school students. They just love them to death, literally.
6. Yeah we have a quarantine area...where they stay with the other hobos I mean wintertime guests
This is the truth. If you don't, then you should. These cute little plants that people bring in are likely ignored at home and often have nutrient deficiencies or are pot bound leading to fungus gnats and more often mealy bugs. So you get one greenhouse guest and they bring a much more unfriendly guest with them.
7. You know this greenhouse is open to the outside
Most people just don't realize that the house in greenhouse isn't the same as a living space. You pull in outside air and those doors open a thousand times a day. You get pests and critters and dust. Greenhouses are working agricultural facilities and is a tough environment to live in.
8. It's a lot brighter in here than houseplants are used to you know
Not all plants are created equal. Some house plants can adapt to indoor light over time. Introduce them to a greenhouse, even with a shade cloth, and it's more than they can handle. You won't kill their plant, but the sunlight will. Temperature, humidity, and solar exposure are tough on the uninitiated.
9. They might get moved a bunch. We are always shuffling plants around in the greenhouse
That's the truth. Plans change and things happen. Plants get moved, pots get jostled. Branches will break, leaves will get crushed, and pots will get damaged. This is a working greenhouse, not a conservatory at Biltmore Estate.
All you are trying to do is just put some doubt in their mind. Certainly not the kind of doubt where they'll tell everyone you are a plant killer. Instead, the kind of doubt helps them realize on their own that their darling plant isn't going to a 5 star beach resort. It's a working greenhouse where students are learning and making mistakes. You get what you pay for with free plant babysitting.
So try these out and let me know if you come up with some good lines of your own. Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have comments or questions for me. Y'all keep those kids busy, that's the only way to learn.