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Category Archives: Garden Blog

Altman Plants team members display their plant geekery

We’re thrilled to share the creative chops of the four winners of the first Altman Plants team photo contest. We challenged our colleagues to submit images that captured nature being awesome in whatever way they could find, whether in and around their homes or while out and about, and they came through big time. In the case of this fab four, that could be of a hummingbird zipping around for nourishment or of a quiet moment with a rose bush in the rain. Of a living wall of succulent colors and textures or of a backyard space transformation. 

Accompanying the four photos below are the stories behind them, in the words of our coworkers. View all of the winners’ submissions here.

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This lineup of crassulas is stacked

There is so much to adore about succulents — we can’t even begin to count all the ways — but this week we want to highlight a crew of ornamentals that just can’t help but be showoffs: “stacked” crassulas. And we love them for that, their penchant for fancifulness: forms resembling spirals, pendants, pagodas, or just un-plain, goofy vertical.

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Have stretched-out succulents? Treat them to more light

Stretching generally has a positive connotation when it comes to us human beings, especially in the realm of physical fitness. Or when we get to splay out on the sand or poolside for some deserved chillaxation. With succulents, though, not so much. A stretched plant is a light-deprived plant. All that stretching robs the plant of its attractive, natural, compact form. Light deprivation also prevents plants from exhibiting their full chroma potential. Instead, leaves become pale and possibly yellowed, as if suffering from chlorosis.

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Succulents to keep you company during shady respites

It’s summer (news flash!) and sometimes we just want to hide. From the sun. That fiery sphere serves a noble purpose, of course, but occasional time apart is healthy. Our succulent pals, though, we always want close by…even when in shady-friendly spots.

Even if not necessarily lovers of deep shade, aeoniums can relate, as they are also susceptible to sunburns, as well as leaf curling, when overly exposed. They have a distinctive, daisy-like appearance. The leaves can vary in color from black to rose to green to yellow. The rosettes grow on the ends of stems that, depending on the variety, may be a quarter inch or more in diameter. We should all take a cue from these diversely hued succulents that like nothing more during summer than to chill. They perk up in winter to spring, when the weather is cooler and on the damper side.

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Brighten your landscape with shy-but-strong Echeveria ‘Lola’

The time for relishing the summer breeze as it brushes your face on a balmy Friday evening has arrived. While Seals & Crofts may have had a soft spot for jasmine, we can’t help but have eyes for a favorite succulent beauty of ours: Echeveria ‘Lola’.

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#nofilter living no ideal for most succulents — add a tree

Tree options for succulent gardens are many. We look at five:

Summer has arrived, which has us thinking of shade and the coming moments when we will be fleeing for cover from an oppressive sun.

At the same time, feeling compelled to seek refuge indoors is not particularly desirable. Do you have any cool or cool-ish zones in your succulent garden? Or, if not some majestic, light-blocking tree canopy, areas where more wispy specimens soften the sun’s impact for your fleshy leaved light lovers?

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BFFs for your succulents

Non-succulent companion plant options are numerous. Here are five:

One of the biggest garden design challenges is focusing your enthusiasm. Even if succulents and cacti are your #botanicaljam4lyfe, choices must be made. There are thousands of species on the planet, yet you only enjoy space for 75 plants. That means you’re probably going to plant 25 species at most, unless you have a hopeless case of the “onesies” and are determined to get your mitts on one of everything.

Plus you might want to make room for a few non-succulents. We here at Altman have soft spots for all kinds of plants and know just how beautiful a mixed landscape, abounding in rich colors and textures, can be.

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Five picks for heat-enduring, non-prickly succulents

Those who have found this particular outpost of succulent fandom are probably aware that succulents have their limits. For example, to decorate desert ground with any plant accurately answering to the name “succulent” is to expect or desire one very possible outcome: fried succulent. Personally, we much prefer going the “fried” route with cauliflower or chicken.

Cactus, agaves, and aloes, this post is not intended for you. (Now’s a good time to acknowledge that plants generally don’t answer when called upon.) With summer here soon, we thought it would be cool to highlight some needle- and sword-free specimens that should do pretty well in the hotter spots of the garden. To be clear, not desert hot — we’re not about to completely deep-fry our senses. We are referring to areas that experience temperatures of 90+ degrees Fahrenheit (32° Celsius) without much if any marine influence.

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Gardeners & Pests: not a love story

Dealing with destructive little ones doesn’t require a scorched-earth approach

Spotting pests making homes on your cacti, succulents, and shrubbery is never a delightful discovery. The more those little buggers thrive and multiply, the likelier it portends not-swell effects for your precious leaf babies plants. As much as we gardeners want to evict those gluttonous trespassers like yesterday, ideally the solution doesn’t lie in harsh, chemical-heavy measures. No. 1, it starts with ecologically minded gardening (namely, approximating your plants’ natural habitat as best as possible).

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In the ground versus containers

Ideally, it’s not an either/or predicament for succulent enthusiasts

Stick ’em in the ground or contain them to potted dwellings? Thankfully for those of us with dirt to spare, succulents are generally as flexible as they are fleshy (not to discount factors such as frost and excessive heat).

That flexibility, though — as much as succulent lovers appreciate the artful possibilities it affords — can have gardeners struggling to make choices. Because we’d rather you be outside getting your fingernails dirty than indoors furiously scribbling pros-and-cons lists, we’ve cobbled together a handful of considerations.

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