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Category Archives: Plant Articles

Aloe, Holidays!

 
 
 
Hard up for holiday gift ideas this season? We know how difficult it can be to settle on the right gifts for the very favorite humans in your life. Luckily, we have a handful of unique, colorful and adorable possibilities for you to consider. So sit back, or lean forward, and say “aloe” to our little Altman Plants-hybridized friends that are part of our 2018 Holiday Collection at shopaltmanplants.com.
 
These three following varieties are particularly appropriate for container gardening and windowsill culture. They are all low-maintenance, waterwise plants that give us a reason to look forward to peeking at the nooks and crannies of our homes each day, for a glimpse of new growth or emerging flowers. Through the holidays, the order minimum for free shipping at shopaltmanplants.com is $50, down from the customary $75.
 

Aloe ‘Blizzard’

Aloe ‘Blizzard’

Aloe ‘Blizzard’ is a patented (US PP21,408), one-of-a-kind, perfect storm of variegation, attractive blooms, and compact size. Our breeding team wanted to create a white aloe that grew faster and more upright than one of its parents and with brighter color. Great for a windowsill, Aloe ‘Blizzard’ boasts bright white/deep green tones, tubular coral flowers, frequent flowering periods, and a pleasing penchant for multiplying.

Aloe ‘Christmas Sleigh’

Aloe ‘Christmas Sleigh’

Good ol’ St. Nick can only dream of this clumping hybrid succulent serving as his sleigh. It certainly would require fewer than nine reindeer. Aloe ‘Christmas Sleigh’ abounds with red teeth on the margins of its dark green to blue leaves, which also have red bumps down the middle. Reddens up in bright light and cool temps. Terrific as a small container specimen or as focal point in a dish garden with non-Aloe succulents.

 

Aloe ‘Snowstorm’

Aloe ‘Snowstorm’

Aloe ‘Snowstorm’ features irregular, dense white banding on green leaves, with “flurries” of white teeth on the margins. It’s like wild powder snow on a star-shaped verdant green ground cover. Free flowering with spikes of orange tubular flowers, loved by hummingbirds. Whereas the nominally similar Aloe ‘Blizzard’ is all about upright, tightly clustered growth, the leaves of ‘Snowstorm’ are wider and comparatively flat. Prefers excellent drainage provided by porous soil. Water thoroughly when dry. Can be grown on a patio or in a garden in frost-free temperate areas, or displayed on a windowsill or other brightly lit spot indoors during cold season in less temperate areas. Green coloring takes on chocolate tones in the sun.

View these and the rest of our Holiday Collection succulents at shopaltmanplants.com (retail) or the Cactus Shop (wholesale).

 
 
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Show us your DIY magic for our Holiday Decor Contest

We enjoy sharing our succulent craftiness on social media and the blog, but now we want to see yours! How exactly? Well, we are launching our DIY Holiday Decor Contest. We know there’s an amazingly creative minds and hands out there and we want to highlight and celebrate that talent within our virtual community of plant people.
 
Here’s how to enter. Find us on your favorite social media platform, as long as it’s Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest. Send us a photo, by Dec. 31, showcasing your holiday-style DIY magic with succulents. It can be pretty much any DIY-style holiday-themed project, just as long as it involves succulents. We will be guided by a fairly broad interpretation of what it means to be holiday-themed.
 
So, for example, if you want to create a table centerpiece that will fit nicely at your family’s holiday feast, it need not incorporate a Santa Claus motif to qualify as a holiday centerpiece.
 
The method for entering will vary slightly, depending on which social media channel you choose. 
  • If you’re a Facebooker, simply post a photo to our page, or you can tag us (@altmanplants) in a photo on yours — in that case, be sure to set the post to public so we can see it. 
  • If you’re an Instagrammer, use the hashtag #altmanholidaycontest.
  • Should you be a master pinner, you can enter via Pinterest by using that same hashtag, #altmanholidaycontest, in your pin. 

There is no limit on entries. 

The grand prize: Altman Plants’ trio of 3.5″ rosette succulents in birch-style wraps

 

The winner will receive our three-pack of 3.5″ rosette succulents in birch-style wraps.

If you’re short on succulents at the moment but have a great DIY decor idea, we’ve lowered the minimum order for free shipping at shopaltmanplants.com to $50.

Whether it’s a wreath, succulent tree or centerpiece, or ornaments — or something completely different — we can’t wait to see it! Don’t hold back! Team Altman member Lee sure didn’t with his succulent Christmas tree. And no #fakesies! Happy DIYing!

 
 

 

 

 

 

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Give the gift of succulents

Can you believe the holidays are all but here? Good news for you: Succulents make super gifts for the favorite people in your life. These living treasures add gratifying, dramatic, year-round cheer and they do so without the need for batteries or USB cables or WiFi integration. And they don’t hit you up for attention during the holiday rush.
Our holiday collections (here & here) make gift giving simple, including succulents that arrive with their own cozy display “wrapping paper” — some in birch-style pot wraps, some in Grinch-inspired wraps. They’ll work splendidly as gifts and as living holiday decorations. And when the holidays end, remove the wraps and enjoy the plants all year long.
Begin your shopping for #holidaysucculents at our shop. Merry Succulenting!

The festive, Grinch-inspired holiday wrap & one of the birch-style wraps. View our entire Holiday Wrap Collection.

We sure wouldn’t mind coming downstairs to find succulents such as Aloe ‘Christmas Sleigh’ and Aloe ‘Blizzard’ under the tree. View our Holiday Collection.

Quirky varieties such as Kalanchoe tomentosa ‘Chocolate Soldier’, in the birch-style wrap, may delight the youngsters in your life and turn them on to succulents.

Sedeveria ‘Blue Elf’ blushing with excitement. Our collection of three rosette succulents in the birch-style wrap.

 

 

 

 

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A colorful team (of succulents) you’ll wanna root for

Perhaps you’ve noticed, perhaps not, that football season is well under way, from the Friday night lights of high school ball (already winding down) to Saturday’s rousing collegiate showdowns, to the bruising glitz of the NFL on Sunday. And Monday. Um, Thursday too. 

What if one were to create a team made up of succulents? Say what? We present the Juicy Treasures! They’re full of heart and resilience. Devoted to good form and fundamentals, all while avoiding stretching as much as possible. They leave everything they have on the field week after week, although they’re OK with moving the action indoors if it’s too cold or soggy. That’s when their basketball side really comes through.

 Draft your favorite succulent footballers at our shop

Wide Receivers: Echinocereus rigidissimus rubrispinus (rainbow hedgehog cactus) & Sedum adolphi Firestorm™

Quarterback: Echeveria ‘Cubic Frost’

Running Back: Echeveria ‘Neon Breakers’

Tight End: Lithops

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Offensive Line: Echinocactus grusonii (golden barrel cactus), Euphorbia mammillaris ‘Variegata’ and Ferocactus glaucescens

Kick Returner: Crassula ovata ‘Gollum’ / Kicker: Aloe ‘Swordfish’

Head Coach: Echeveria ‘Perle von Nurnberg’

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Calico Kitten crassula — catnip for succulent geeks

A trailing succulent plant with heart-shaped leaves of lemony cream, green and pink? Meow! We are so in. How ’bout you? The crassula (Crassula marginalis rubra ‘Variegata’) we lovingly call calico kitten is an absolute boss of a pendant-minded plant, highly recommended as a way to step up your hanging basket game. The variegated foliage positively leaps off a green hanging backdrop of Sedum ‘Burrito’ and Senecio radicans (string of bananas). Like a frisky, feisty kitty leaving its hind paws for a swipe at an irresistible target of string. Or yarn. Or shoelaces. Calico kitten will also nicely spills over retaining walls, borders and planter bowls.

But, and this especially goes for you dog people (ha ha!), don’t go letting your children or canines trample over calico kitten. She’s a hair or two delicate, but it’s definitely worth it. Just give this succulent kitty as much bright light as it can stand without frying, along with some healthy stress (drought or cold). Watch that pink explode!

In the linked video below, our plant whisperer Tom says this charmer is a purrrfect choice for a cascader in a succulent grouping. Please let us know which obvious feline-y puns we left out.

Crassula marginalis rubra ‘Variegata’ (calico kitten) is available at shopaltmanplants.com (retail) or the Cactus Shop (wholesale).

 

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When to water succulents … rules of thumb are made to be broken

It seems simple enough. Put plant in ground. Water plant when it’s thirsty. Watch plant, and your smiles, grow wider and taller. Hooray for plant!

When it comes to when and how much to water, however, what would seem like an elementary exercise inevitably turns out to be more involved. But don’t fret. You got this; we know it! A good place to start is to water thoroughly when the soil is completely dry to the touch, and not just at the surface but down by the roots. This is especially true for a plant during its active growing season (more on that below). When in doubt, procure a water meter.

As a rule of thumb, figure on watering your succulents at least once every two weeks. While that rule is rather pliable, subject to factors we’ll run down in a bit, we can’t stress enough that it’s better to underwater succulents than to overwater them. They will more easily rebound from lack of nourishment than from too much. You will learn a lot about your succulents and what they want simply by observing them and their responses to weather and watering.

  • Firm, plump leaves indicate a happy plant.
  • Squishy, mushy leaves likely mean it has received too much water. Discoloration might even be noticeable, such as black spots on the leaves or stem. In those cases, something may definitely be rotten in the garden.
  • Shriveled, wrinkled leaves tell you it’s time to fill up the watering can. However, if it’s only the very bottom (oldest) leaves that are thin and shriveled, and the rest look good, then that is completely, totally normal. In the case of a dehydrated aloe, the leaves will fold, or curve, up. The rosettes of drought-stressed echeverias may be appear closed up.
  • A caveat related to dormancy: Succulents, some more than others, anticipate a resting period of little to no growth, thus little water and zero plant food required from you. For example, aeoniums and dudleyas are especially known for snoozing during summer. Hence, they may appear rather tired, but that doesn’t mean you should water them like crazy to wake them up. Let them chill during dormancy, with very occasional waterings. Other winter growers/summer resters include aloes, crassulas, cotyledons, gasterias, graptopetalums, kalanchoes, haworthias, portulacarias, and sedums. Summer growers/winter resters include agaves, echeverias, euphorbias, lithops, and sempervivums.
  • Whereas succulents rotting from too much H2O may not be salvageable, parched plants should perk back up after one or two good drinks.

Sometimes, though, your succulent could be thirsty not because it hasn’t received any water in ages but because it’s poorly rooted or has lost its roots to rot, preventing water from getting to the leaves. If that happens to you, you’re going to need to cut the rotted section off and go about trying to re-establish new roots.

Now back to that rule of thumb, because a friend or neighbor or online acquaintance will inevitably swear by a different schedule. The frequency of watering (or infrequency, as it were) is awash in considerations other than active growth/rest periods, such as:

  • in the ground or container
  • pot size
  • soil mix
  • exposure
  • temperature
  • humidity
  • recent rain
  • airflow
  • slope or flat grade, or something in between
  • organic mulch or inorganic mulch, or no mulch at all
  • proximity to hardscape or inorganic elements such as boulders or water fountains.

 

Not to mention the plant varieties themselves. Like us humans, they don’t share a uniform metabolism rate. Their native habitats don’t all receive the same amount of precipitation or experience an equivalent temperature range.

Indoor plants, insulated from the withering effects of excessive direct sun, can go longer between waterings than their outdoor counterparts. All other things being equal, the same holds for plants in the ground versus those in containers. The former, their roots being underground and better insulated from heat, require less frequent waterings than plants in pots. Indoor plants, especially those that are established, will be fine with dry soil for several days. You might even say many days. Again, get a good look at the leaves. If they are taut to the touch, you can wait another day.

This whole watering thing may now seem to resemble something complicated rather than simple. Like springing open a can of worms, and we’d rather those worms stay under the soil. As noted earlier, becoming a skilled plant steward starts with becoming a good observer. With experience, you’ll be able to confidently incorporate all those various factors into a successful plant care plan, with nary a bead of sweat. Or buy a water meter. If after doing so, your plants appear overwatered, adjust the period between soakings.

 

 

 

 

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Succulents can be a juicy source for costume ideas

So you’re skilled with a sewing machine or are an imaginative repurposer of a variety of materials. Yay! And you’re thirsty — hungry! — for a novel costume and willing to spend this entire coming weekend creating it. See? We have you all figured out, heh heh. Well, we happen to be conveniently adept at compiling silly suggestions for DIY projects, yet we’re perfectly content to let others transform them into reality. Our big tip: Use felt. Loads and loads of felt. These theoretically costume-inspiring living treasures are regularly obtainable at shopaltmanplants.com.

No. 1: Echinocereus rigidissimus rubrispinus (rainbow hedgehog cactus): Believe it or not, there are hedgehog costumes galore online. You just need to add the rainbow colors. Or pink. Lots of hot pink.

No. 2: Echeveria ‘Dusty Rose’: Play a county-rock songwriter with a mauve-colored leather or faux leather jacket named ‘Dusty Rose’.

No. 3: Oreocereus celsianus (old man of the Andes): Old man cactus could involve a sweet wig, faux white hair and toothpicks. Doc Brown the cactus!

 

 

No. 4: For Cremnosedum ‘Crocodile’, we’re thinking plump, juicy leaves instead of teeth for your crocodile mask.

No. 5. For Sedeveria ‘Blue Elf’, you could be Legolas from “The Lord of the Rings” painted blue. A blue Orlando Bloom? Hmm.

 

 

No. 6: Kalanchoe luciae (flapjacks): A pancake costume sure sounds tasty, right? Especially red-tipped, aqua-colored pancakes.

 

 

 

No. 7: Gasteria ‘Little Warty’: ‘Little Warty’ is two-toned green sweatpants & shirt with white or silver felt dots! Adorn the outfit with felt Gasteria-style tongues to really sell it.

No. 8: Echeveria ‘Galaxy Blue’: Instead of rigging a solar system of mini planets on your shoulders, go with wavy blue leaves.

No. 9: Echeveria ‘Black Prince’ could be a young Johnny Cash in robes.

If that’s not enough Halloween succulent chatter — and of course it most certainly is not! — we’d love to share with you our frighteningly fun Halloween Collection 4 Pack at shopaltmanplants.com. This spooky collection will be the perfect new addition to your Halloween décor. Four creepy, crawly, toothy succulents paired with four festive cups and four ghoulish picks. It’s the best way to complete your Halloween decorations this year. And while holidays come and go, succulents are rather adept at haunting homes year-round. They’re adaptable to all sorts of decor.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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This sedum delivers a hot storm of color

Would you care to make a statement … in your garden? On your patio? You’d be hard-pressed to make a quiet one by slotting in Sedum adolphi Firestorm™. More like a searing proclamation — in prime condition (lots of light), the leaf margins scream out as if they’re sear marks. Orange-red ones. The middle is golden yellow to greenish yellow. Clusters of star-shaped white flowers burst forth seasonally.

This striking selection of golden sedum is an incredibly versatile rangy color accent in succulent landscapes, borders and along pathways, or for spilling forth out of planters.

In the linked video below, our succulent tamer Tom plays up this fiery character’s ability to light up a temperate landscape in a mass planting. Firestorm is hardy to 32 degrees Fahrenheit, but protecting it from frost may prevent possible scarring.

Because of its bright hues, this sedum excels as a loud accent in all manner of dish garden combos. We find ourselves going back to the well with this one time and time again.

You can find Sedum adolphi Firestorm at shopaltmanplants.com (retail) or the Cactus Shop (wholesale).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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If an echeveria were a jeweled lizard

If you admire reptilian motifs but can do without slithering or hissing, then you ought to consider giving Echeveria purpusorum a spot in your garden or new planter. Or scale up and sprinkle several here and there. We imagine it would pass muster, with its enticing, irregular reddish-brown spots, particularly on the outside of the short, pointy leaves. More of a finely mottled pattern graces the inside. Leaf color will be some form of green, punctuated by red margins. Check out those dynamite flowers.

In the linked video below, our succulent wrangler Tom notes that this windowsill-ready echeveria lacks a common name. If you come up with one, we’d love to hear it!

You can find Echeveria purpusorum at shopaltmanplants.com (retail) or the Cactus Shop (wholesale).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A petite purple people charmer for your windowsill & patio

 Sometimes fabulous prizes come in small packages. This is particularly true with succulents. Take Anacampseros rufescens (sand rose), a diminutive cutie that’s ideal in a windowsill pot or as a dish garden accent. But that’s not all! In a garden, over time, it will spread to become a miniature ground cover of green-purple rosettes, with white hairs along the stems adding a nice contrast.

While the plant is suitable for a partially shady area, its olive green leaves will turn purple to reddish-brown in bright light. The fetching flowers will win your heart with their pink to pinkish-purple petals. Keep yours long enough and you might even notice a caudex (plump stem) form.

In the linked video below, our succulent whisperer Tom talks about this fleshy wonder from South Africa being a delightful fit for a bright sill or nook.

You can find Anacampseros rufescens at shopaltmanplants.com (retail) or the Cactus Shop (wholesale).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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