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Echeveria ‘Lola’ and painted lady echeveria look similar for a reason

Echeveria derenbergiiWe recently posted a photo to our Instagram of a cute-as-can-be trio of Echeveria derenbergii, a species lovingly referred to as the “painted lady” echeveria. Painted lady is a quick-to-clump hen-and-chicks species from Mexico that forms small rosettes of triangular green or green-blue leaves with pointed tips. It bears a clear resemblance to another lovely “lady,” the succulent enthusiast favorite Echeveria ‘Lola’, introduced decades ago by famed hybridizer Dick Wright. There’s a reason for that, which we will get to shortly (have a guess as to what that is?). Someone commented on our post that she had thought these three little echeverias were ‘Lola’. Which prompted us to look at a whole bunch of photos of the two plants and do some reading and querying. The comment was totally understandable. There are so many species, hybrids and clones out in the collective “wild” of the nursery trade and hobbyist culture. Pretty much all of us are bound to get confused or unsure from time to time, especially when trying to make definitive IDs from photos.

So, the reason for ‘Lola’s’ resemblance to painted lady? Well, that’s because E. derenbergii is most likely one of the two parents of ‘Lola’, the other being Echeveria lilacina. You will see this as the credited parentage for ‘Lola’ in many online sources, but not all. Some say it’s E. lilacina and Echeveria ‘Deresina’, which is a hybrid created by Alfred Gräser (of ‘Perle von Nurnberg’ legend) involving derenbergii. So not wildly different. And then a well-regarded online resource on succulents lists the reported parentage as E. lilacina and E. ‘Tippy’, another hybrid of Wright’s. But it gets sticky. While it credits Wright for being the source of ‘Tippy’ having come from E. agavoides and E. derenbergii (there “she” is again!), this resource questions whether ‘Tippy’ truly could be a cross of agavoides and derenbergii.

We’re now going to step out of that thicket, hoping you’re still with us, and just make a case for ‘Lola’ being a “descendant” of derenbergii. The low inflorescences of ‘Lola’, with fewer flowers than some other echeverias, is a derenbergii trait, and seems to express in later generations. (By the way, have you noticed just how low the flower stalks of painted lady are? Super low.) The somewhat larger, slightly more open corolla (petals) is another. The shape of the leaves is similar to derenbergii, and when coupled with the more spatulate leaves of lilacina, appears to account for the leaf shape of ‘Lola’. The rosette form, somewhat shaped like the anthesis of a rosebud, the time at which it is beginning to open, is also expressed in derenbergii. And then there is the similar coloring.

So there you have it. With all the different species, cultivars and hybrids available today, it is quite easy to confuse or mistake one for the other based on a photograph. Especially when you factor in things like differences in growing conditions from one plant to the next, or even just the lighting of an image. That goes for whether you are just starting out in the hobby or are a professional nurserywoman or man. In this case, we have two echeverias that are almost certainly related, but the precise “how” is not universally accepted.

Echeveria derenbergii and Echeveria ‘Lola’ are both available at shopaltmanplants.com or cactusshop.com (wholesale). We love succulents no matter their pedigrees!

Both varieties are among those you may receive with our Valentine’s Day Rosette Succulent Collection, an online exclusive, at shopaltmanplants.com

 

 

  
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Treat your valentine to succulent sweethearts

Alluring. Enduring. Low maintenance!
Like your special someone, succulents really are something else. Let your love grow this Valentine’s Day season with our Valentine’s Day Rosette Succulent Collection. These living treats are even sweeter than candy hearts or chocolate and they last a whole lot longer.

Each two-pack ordered comes with a specially designed to/from card — we’re aiming to make this a piece of cake for ya! Varieties vary, in that enticing, ooh-I-can’t-wait-to-see way. Check out both styles, in 2.5″ or 3.5″ sizes. 

Few “giftable” things embody lasting affection like succulents, if we do say so ourselves. The rosette-forming sweeties in our 2 1/2″ two-pack come in decorative wood-style pot wraps. 

Succulents may not be as huggable as teddy bears, but they’re just as lovable. For our 3 1/2″ two-pack, two rosette beauties come in pots adorned with the sayings “Love Grows Here” & “Let Love Grow.”

Our Valentine’s Day Rosette Succulent Collection, an online exclusive, is available at shopaltmanplants.com

PS, make no mistake…we are pro-chocolate too! 

 
  
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Greenhouse Grower: Altman Plants Acquires Color Spot Nurseries

 

Original article published by Greenhouse Grower

Jan. 3, 2019

Story by Laura Drotleff

Ken and Deena Altman

Ken and Deena Altman

The sun set on 2018 with one of the biggest deals in floriculture industry history. Altman Plants, based in Vista, CA, closed a deal on Dec. 21 to purchase the remaining assets of Color Spot Nurseries from Wells Fargo. Joining Altman Plants’ additions in 2018 of a 20-acre facility in Salinas, CA, and 30-acres of new greenhouses at its Lake Mathews, CA, location, the acquisition of Color Spot’s remaining assets almost doubles the size of Altman Plants, to put the operation in the No.1 spot on Greenhouse Grower’s Top 100 Growers list.

Before Color Spot filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy and restructured, the company was listed with 21 million square feet of environmentally controlled space, 2,603 acres of outdoor space, and 206 acres of shade houses, and as of May 2018 was the largest grower in the country, according to Greenhouse Grower‘s 2018 Top 100 Growers Survey. Color Spot held that No. 1 position since the mid-90s. In 2018, Altman Plants was the second largest growing operation in the U.S.

After divesting ownership of Hines Nurseries in August and being acquired temporarily by Wells Fargo, Color Spot Nurseries was still one of the largest growers and distributors of live plants in the country, delivering bedding plants, perennials, annuals, flowering tropicals, ornamental shrubs, poinsettias, and other holiday plants to large and small retailers and wholesalers in the Western, Southwestern, and Gulf regions of the U.S. Founded in 1983, Color Spot employed 1,600 employees who fulfilled the needs of hundreds of retail and commercial customers in 26 states.

Color Spot’s five remaining production facilities in California and Texas, comprising an estimated 11 million square feet of environmentally controlled space and 1,500 acres of outdoor space, now folds into Altman Plants, which even before this acquisition owned more than 2,100 acres in several states.  Altman Plants’ full scope of production includes ornamental bedding plants, container perennials, woody ornamentals, and potted foliage, as well as close to 700 acres of succulent and stock production.

Altman Plants Will Expand Retail Footprint

While all of the details are still being worked out, including exactly how large this acquisition makes Altman Plants, we caught up with Ken Altman, CEO and Co-President of Altman Plants to find out about some of the particulars that he could discuss. He confirmed that Altman Plants will absorb the Color Spot Nurseries facilities in Fallbrook, Salinas, and Lodi, CA, and in Troup and San Antonio, TX, as well as three locations in Waco, Walnut Springs, and Fort Davis, TX, that were previously closed and will remain closed for now. All of the facilities will be renamed Altman Plants, except for the San Antonio woody ornamentals operation, which will be “tightly interwoven” with Altman Plants, but operated under its former name, Lone Star Growers.

Altman Plants’ production

All of the facilities will continue growing the same crops they were producing before, serving most of the same customers with plant products and merchandising services. Most of the customers Color Spot was servicing were also already Altman Plants customers, including home improvement stores, warehouse chains, grocery stores, and independent garden centers, so the sale allows the company to expand its service to those customers.

Altman Plants leadership is now busy with integrating the two companies, including hiring on nearly all of the Color Spot Nurseries employees and joining the two companies into one blended culture. The top management group from Color Spot will not stay on, as those positions are already filled; however, the remaining 1,600 employees will be welcomed to Altman Plants, adding to the company’s current 3,000 employees.

Other integration priorities include deciding which operating system to use. Color Spot was using SAP while Altman Plants uses a homegrown system called Evolution. There will also be ample opportunities to refresh the Color Spot facilities with automation and new processes over time, Altman says.

In addition to Altman Plants’ significant growth in 2018, the Altman family invested heavily in the young plants business in late 2016 and early 2017 with its acquisition of both The Plug Connection and EuroAmerican Propagators, which were integrated together as The Plug Connection. Altman says in addition to serving Altman Plants’ young plants needs, The Plug Connection is rapidly attaining a wide variety of new young plants customers to provide them with plugs, liners, grafted vegetables, and tissue culture liners.

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A cactus with a magnificent pop of yellow

We’re keeping the holiday spirit alive into the new year by going with balloons — balloon cactus, that is. This gorgeous globular bluish-green species is native to southern Brazil and other select South American locales. The view from above is spot on: pale yellow spines radiate from the rusty gold middle atop and down the center of the attractive ribs.

Flowers appear spring to summer, even into fall, providing a yummy pop of yellow on yellow. This one is relatively indoor friendly — a single stem can reach 6 inches in diameter, but over time, clumps may spread to 2 feet or more across.

In the linked video below, our cactus whisperer Tom highlights the beautiful glow effect when the plant’s bristle-like spines are backlit by the sun.

Notocactus magnificus (balloon cactus) is available at shopaltmanplants.com (retail) or the Cactus Shop (wholesale).

 

 

 

 

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Succulents make super holiday gifts for friends, family, and yourself

As of Nov. 27, Altman Plants has now lowered the threshold for free shipping at shopaltmanplants.com to $50 for the holidays

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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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Fresh introductions from the Altman Plants breeding team

Aloe ‘AJR’ and Echeveria ‘Autumn Flame’ — two beautifully distinctive succulent plants
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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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