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How to Shop for Healthy Succulents and Cacti

How to Plant, How to Shop for Plantscolleen jordanComment

When you’re shopping for succulents, there are several signs to look for to make sure you are buying the healthiest plant that you can get. There are no definite rules on what to look for when shopping for plants, but these tips will help you determine which plants are the healthiest when you’re out shopping. This post is part of a 3 part series on how to shop for succulents. In this post I’m going to focus on signs of healthy plants, and in the next two posts I will share with you warning signs of unhealthy or uncared for plants, and what to never buy.

Plump and Full Leaves


Looking at the leaves is one of the easiest ways to tell if a succulent is healthy. Succulents are often called “fat plants” because of their plump and full leaves. Succulents store their water in ways different from most plants by storing most of their water in their leaves. The appearance of the leaves will give you a status report of the recent health of the plant. If the leaves are full and plump, than the plant is currently getting the right amount of water, and unless there are signs of insects or physical damage, the plant is in most likelihood currently healthy. If you see mushy or black leaves on a succulent, the succulent was overwatered and will most likely die soon (seriously, don’t buy an overwatered succulent, it will only lead to heart break). Wrinkly leaves mean that the succulent has not received enough water. Succulents with wrinkly leaves can still be healthy and plump back up in a few days when properly watered.

Close Leaf Spacing


We’re going to keep looking at the leaves for more clues about the health of the plant. Looking at the leaf spacing will give us clues about the longer term growing conditions of the plant. When you’re looking at the succulent you want to buy, pay attention to the spacing of the leaves along the stem. Leaves should be closely spaced together and tightly overlapping. Etiolation, or the far apart spacing of the leaves, is a sign that the plant has not received enough sunlight. Etiolation on a succulent is not a sign that it is unhealthy, just that it was not receiving enough sunlight for a portion of its life. You can buy an etiolated succulent and still have a perfectly healthy plant, it just might not be “instagram-worthy” right away. If you do buy an etiolated plant you can also cut off the bottom of the plant and remove the lower leaves to propagate smaller plants.

Dry Soil


When you’re shopping for succulents, you’ll also need to look at the soil for clues about the health and care of the plant. If the soil is dry and you don’t see any signs of mold or mushy leaves, than the plant has never been properly watered and you should have healthy roots and soil. If you see soft wet soil or any signs of mold or mushy leaves on the plant, this means the plant has been overwatered and can cause root rot, a condition where the roots stayed wet for too long and have begun to rot and cut off water to the plant. 

Also, look for succulents planted in a well-draining soil mix that includes perlite or sand. If you don’t see these in your soil, but the soil is still dry, you can always replant it with a fast draining soil mix when you get home.

Bright and Even Coloring


 The coloring of the leaves will also give you more clues about the health of the plant. Not all succulents are green or brightly colored, but look for even coloring of the plant. Some succulents might be light green, dark green, pink, purple, or even black, but what matters is that the leaves all have consistent and even coloring. Some species will also have a gradient in their leaves (like the succulent in the picture) where the color might change color towards the tips. As long as the coloring doesn’t show signs of sunburn or stress, and is consistent throughout the plant, this color is a sign of good health. 

Farina Bloom


 Farina bloom is a light, dusty, sometimes waxy, flour-like coating over the leaves of some succulents. Not all succulents have farinaceous bloom, but several species of crassula, pachyphytum, and echeverria do. If you see a flour-y coating on the leaves of the succulent, make sure that it is mostly undisturbed and has not been dusted off. Farina acts like sunscreen for succulents who love bright sunlight and should not be removed. The farina bloom is something that occurs on the leaves as they grow, so once its been removed it cannot grow back. If this has been removed, it does not mean that your succulent is going to die, but you should take more caution in the amount of light it receives and pay attention for signs of sunburn. Leaves that have had the farina removed could still be used for propagation of new plants.

I hope you liked this guide of what to look for to ensure you’re buying healthy plants! The next part of our series will focus on what to avoid when buying succulents, and will give you more tips and photos of what to look out for when buying plants and signs that some plants might need more love.

Put a Plant on it! Where to Find Plants in Atlanta

What We're Making, How to Plantcolleen jordanComment
Small succulents from Pike Nursery in Atlanta.

Small succulents from Pike Nursery in Atlanta.

With the holidays right around the corner, we thought this would be a good time to share with you some of our favorite places to pick up plants, and where we find the small ones that you see us use in our planters. Since we're based in Atlanta*, we're most familiar with the places to find plants locally, and we'd like to share our recommendations with you!

Southeast Succulents
at The Collective, 723 Lake Avenue Northeast, Atlanta, GA, 30307
at Whole Foods on Ponce, 650 Ponce De Leon Ave NE, Atlanta, GA 30308

One of our favorite places to pick up the succulents that you see us use for our photos is Southeast Succulents! They sell their succulents at a few places around Atlanta, mainly the Collective in Inman Park and at Whole Foods Markets. In addition to plants, they also sell potting soils for succulents, and other decorative terrarium supplies.

Visiting Gardenhood in the fall.

Visiting Gardenhood in the fall.

353 Boulevard SE, Atlanta, GA 30312
Gardenhood is a nursery that sells a variety of plants in the Grant Park neighborhood of Atlanta. We like to buy succulents there, and they sell a selection of indoor and outdoor varieties. In addition to succulents, you can also find potting soils, garden decorations, and plants for landscaping at this nursery.

Hall's Atlanta Wholesale Florist
630 Angier Ave NE, Atlanta, GA 30308
Hall's is mainly a wholesale florist, but they also sell plants such as succulents (our favorite plants to use for our planters) and house plants. In addition to plants, they also sell other floral items that you might need for floral arrangements or decorating events. If you're shopping for flowers for a wedding or event, stop by here to pick up your flowers and the other vases and accessories you might need!

Pike Nurseries
Several locations in the Atlanta Area
Pike Nurseries is an Atlanta based chain of nurseries. While most people know them for their large selection of landscaping plants, they also carry a large variety of succulents and tillandsia (air plants).

If you have any nursery recomendations here or in other cities, please let us know and we'd love to share them!

*As a note, this list is not comprehensive of all of the places to find plants in and around Atlanta, but these are the businesses that we know and recommend. If you have another business to recommend for this list, please let us know! Also, large chain stores are not included in this list, only small and Atlanta based businesses. Larger stores will be included in a later post.


Visiting Meadowburn Farm

Just for Funcolleen jordanComment

Tucked away in Northern New Jersey, about an hour from New York City, is the Historic Meadowburn Farm. We were lucky enough to get to visit and tour the gardens and farms last month at the end of summer and right at the peak of dahlia season.


Meadowburn Farm was founded in the 1750s on the border between New York and New Jersey and was a homestead for many years. It was later broken into parcels, one of which became the farm that exists today. The farm was later the country home of Helena Rutherfurd Ely, a New York socialite and an influential garden writer. 


Today the farm is a historic garden open for tours and still ha a working dairy. Most of the garden still follows Helena Rutherfurd Ely's original design and is in the process of being restored to its former glory. The garden is broken into a series of smaller gardens as it was in the past, and many of the original fountains, stonework, and wooden fences still stand. The garden is beautiful not only for its rows and rows of lovely flower and plants, but for its peak into its past.

Not only did we get to tour the spectacular gardens, but we made a trip to their dairy as well, and took home some of the farm's homemade cheddar. The farm is also a protected historic farm and home to some very happy to Jersey cows.


If you want to learn more about Meadowburn Farm or plan a trip, you can visit their website at http://www.meadowburnfarm.com/.

Things We Love: 3D Printed Desktop Gardening Tools

Just for Fun, DIYcolleen jordan1 Comment

Some things just make me smile when I see them, and these desktop gardening tools from Trisha Bell just make me so happy to see! The small tools snap onto the top of a standard pencil, and they're ready for you to tend to your bonsai tree or desktop zen garden. If you want to make your own, you can download them to 3D print from her Thingiverse page.

Trisha Bell is also a collaborator for Oscar Eastwood, and will be displaying her gardening tools and other 3D printed objects at Atlanta Maker Faire.