Hello everyone! I hope this post finds you well. I am very tardy in writing this post about the plants I received from Succulent Market on Augst 27. I did sneak in a photo of the box they came in the day they arrived but didn’t say anything about them. I was contacted by Nico Britsch of Succulent Market on July 30 but I didn’t notice his message until August 3. I check my comments sometimes several times a day, but rarely checked the feedback. Well, that’s where his message was. It was like one day I just decided to check the feedback and low and behold there were 20 messages.
He said: “Hi, my name is Nico Britsch and I am a third-generation cactus and succulent farmer. I admire your work to share your gardening knowledge and experience with your followers. The reason I am emailing you is because I have recently launched a website called Succulent Market. It is a website that sells my family’s cactus and succulents online. My family has been growing cactus and succulents for over 50 years and I am trying to get the word out about this new service that we now offer. If you like I would be more than happy to send you guys some of my family’s cactus and succulents. Just let me know what you want and I’ll send a package over! You can check out my family’s website at: https://succulentmarket.com/. If you like my family’s cactus and succulents maybe you could share our website with your followers with a blog post? Regardless I thank you for your time and consideration. Please don’t hesitate to ask me any questions. Best, Nico Britsch”
Well, as you might expect, the part about sending plants caught my eye. So, I checked out his website and read about the history of his family’s business. At first, I was somewhat reluctant to get very involved after visiting his website, Succulent Market…
I have ranted a lot about the industries mislabeling plants and his site was no different. Genus and species names not italicized, out of date plant names, and so on. I sent him a lengthy email and he replied with his story. I then realized he had a dream and I had an opportunity.
Nico’s grandparents, Hans and Gretel Britsch, started Western Cactus Growers in 1966. As botanists and immigrants from Switzerland, Hans and Gretel started Western Cactus as a mail-order company. Their son, Thomas, entered the business in 1988 and expanded it into an international wholesale enterprise. Nico, the third generation, launched the Succulent Market website in 2018 to bring the family’s wholesale business to the public online.
Nico started Succulent Market while he was a sophomore in college to earn extra money. Now that he has graduated he plans to pursue his own company full time. While his website does have that “industry look”, it is tastefully done and very easy to navigate. When you click on something you are directed right to where it is supposed to go. He offers a very good selection of individual plants, in bulk, cuttings, supplies, and a lot of tips and information. Now, if I can just get him to work on the plant names. 🙂
At first, I told him I didn’t need any plants because of my limited space, but then I checked out his selection of Aloe… I told him I didn’t have adequate light for succulents except for one room. He then mentioned the Haworthia fasciata ‘Super White’ his grandfather had selected over many years. He said their “Super Whites” have wider stripes are more resilient indoors with very little light. Then he asked if I would like him to send me one… Then, I looked at the Aloe selection on his site… I mentioned several in the next email and the next thing I knew I had an order confirmation for five plants…
The box arrived safe and sound and in very good shape. I opened it and saw it stuffed with paper… I will admit, I wasn’t jumping up and down for joy because a plant I ordered finally arrived. When I buy plants online they are rare finds, something I can’t find locally from someone from Ebay or a Facebook group. Opening the box to see how they are packed is almost as interesting as what I ordered. I never will forget the Mammillaria plumosa rolled up in toilet paper. Anyway, here the box is stuffed with paper.
His website says: “Each one of our cactus and succulent for sale is packaged by hand with love and care. We utilize craft and crinkle paper to protect your cactus and succulent order during delivery. Your potted succulent orders are carefully wrapped in bubble wrap and stuffed in crinkle paper.”
I removed the paper and this is what I first saw. Five plants peering up at me wondering what was going to happen next. My face was the first thing they saw after a long trip from California in a dark box. I looked at them for a while because I wasn’t expecting such HUGE plants in 4-inch pots. Well, the website did say they ship their plants in 4″ pots, but I was still surprised. The plants looked great! The pots were stuffed in the box so tight they couldn’t possibly move around. Quite a bit of soil had come out of one pot, but other than that they were perfectly fine with not one single broken leaf. I took the plants out and took their photos then tried to put the pots back in the box so I could carry them to the front porch. I could not get them back in the box… I have no idea how they managed to put five 4″ pots in the box without damaging any leaves
Nico said he is continually experimenting with better ways to ship plants. I told him I had ordered plants for many years and they are all shipped in a variety of ways. I suggested he order plants from a few sources to see how they do it. Shipping cactus and succulents, especially larger succulents, is not like shipping many other plants. They have fleshy stems and leaves and you can’t just fold them up and wrap them. No doubt, there are probably companies that make boxes and shipping supplies for plants.
This is the first time I have received succulents in the mail that weren’t damaged in some way. Cactus ship much better. Normally, I photograph and measure new plants as soon as they arrive or after I bring them home but I didn’t measure these until October 6.
I had a pot of Aloe x ‘Blue Elf’ for several years and they really did great. I like their growth habit and the bluish hue of their leaves. They are somewhat slow to offset which isn’t a bad thing. Some Aloe’s offset A LOT and need to be repotted often. There were three of these in the same pot before and they look much better that way because of their upright growth habit.
Information online says Aloe x ‘Cha Cha’ is a rapid grower to 6-12″ tall and wide. This should be interesting because it does not look like a plant that would grow to that size… I can already tell it will be quite a clumper and I need to resist the urge to remove its pups. Some Aloe do much better with their pups removed while others don’t like it. This may be a difficult Aloe but time will tell.
This one is an Aloe x ‘Doran Black’ and it looks really great. A few years ago I bought a small pot of an unlabeled Aloe that looked similar that I kind of decided was Aloe x ‘Wunderkind’ developed by Brian Kimble. There are several miniature hybrid Aloe that are similar to the Aloe x ‘Doran Black’ developed by several well-known hybridizers. This will definitely be a miniature plant and I was pretty excited with I saw a few buds already. Aloe ‘Doran Black’ has very good reviews and if you are looking for a nice miniature, it should be on your wish list. I accidentally killed my Aloe x ‘Wunderkind’ when i watered my plants in the morning instead of later in the afternoon when they were in the shade. It completely boiled once the sun was overhead…
Aristaloe aristata… I already have one of these but it started ailing after I removed its pups and put it in a larger pot. I thought I would die over the summer but it seems to be doing better. The plant I already have was getting very wide with several pups so I definitely needed to repot it. But, the pot I put it in was too deep and it didn’t like that. Some Aloe have an extensive root system and need deeper pots while others do not. I have learned that miniature Aloe’s need shallower pots and kind of like cramped quarters. My Aloe x ‘Lizard Lips’ drives me crazy for this reason!!! This particular species was moved from the Aloe genus into a genus of its own a couple of years ago but the industry continues to call it an Aloe. It was originally named Aloe aristata by Adrian Hardy Haworth in 1825 but testing showed it was not an Aloe. It was given the name Aristaloe aristata by James S. Boatwright and John Charles Manning in 2014. So, now its scientific name is Aristaloe aristata (Haw.) Boatwr. & J.C.Manning. A little useless information for you. 🙂 I really like this species with its very pointed leaves ending with kind of a string. The species name “aristata” comes from the Latin word meaning “bristly” or “awned”. Its common name is Lace Aloe, Guinea Fowl Aloe, and Torch Aloe. It is a good grower that will fill a pot pretty well in no time. Just don’t put it in too deep of a pot or you may be sorry…
Last but not least in any way is the Haworthia ‘Super White’. This is the Haworthia fasciata Nico’s grandfather selected over a period of time to tolerate low light levels. It was selected to have more “white” on its leaves thus making it better in low light situations. I have not grown Haworthia species or cultivars for many years, since 2009, and had difficulty with them which is why I have been reluctant to bring any home. Well, I was a succulent newbie back then and my choices were difficult species to grow in the first place.
BUT, actually… I have to break the news to Nico. This Haworthia fasciata ‘Super White’ is no longer a Haworthia species. Like the Haworthia limafolia I brought home last year, the Haworthia fasciata was transferred to the newly formed Hawortiopsis genus by Gordon Douglas Rowley in 2013… Well, this particular species was first named Apicra fasciata by Carl Ludwig Willdenhow in 1811. Then it was named Haworthia fasciata by Adrian Hardy Haworth in 1821. It was also named Catevala fasciata by Carl Ernst Otto Kuntze in 1891 but apparently, that name didn’t set so well… Even so, before its new name, it was generally considered to be a Haworthia species for 192 years until 2013 due to testing. Testing showed that Haworthia and a few other genera related to Aloe were not monophyletic. In 1971, M.B. Bayer divided the Haworthia genus into three subgenera. Mr. Rowley separated most of the species in the subgenus Haworthia subg. Hexangulares to the new Haworthiopsis genus in 2013.
Mr. Rowley authored and co-authored over 300 publications including 20 books. He named many plants, cactus and succulents becoming the focus of his life after the mid 1940’s. He passed away on August 11, 2019 at the age of 98.
So, I am going to give this ‘Super White’ a shot. I have passed over many similar looking Haworthia over the years so this one will be my first of this “type”. I have no clue what I am talking about.
I know I get a little carried away sometimes with I talk about plant taxonomy but I enjoy doing a little research.
I just want to finish this post by saying if you want some really great plants you should head over to Succulent Market. While most online stores ship very small plants in 2-2 1/2″ pots, this company ships larger well-grown plants in 4″ pots. While most people probably pay no attention to details like non italicized scientific names and improper names, some do and may not buy from online stores because of that. Then again, I can’t italicize the plant names on the list to the right nor in the titles… But, Nico is very young and is the 3rd generation of a well established and experienced company. Hopefully, he will take the initiative and work on the names on his website (and a few other areas) and will be a great success. He is in a competitive business and he should do something to make his site stand out above the rest.
Unfortunately… We have an “F” in the forecast for Thursday night so I will have to start preparing to bring the potted plants inside. Fortunately, I did not add many new plants in 2020. I am considering building maybe two new shelves for the other two bedrooms like I did in the back bedroom. Using tables just doesn’t cut it. The old Western Auto building is being torn down and a good friend is helping with that project. I am hoping I can get some boards from it to make the new shelves. I like using old lumber especially if there is some known history behind the boards…
So, I better end this post and start preparing to bring the plants inside. I probably won’t bring them inside until Thursday because the forecast might change. I noticed last night three different weather websites all had different temps predicted, anywhere from 32-34° F. Yesterday, one site said there would be an “F” but today it doesn’t say that… GEEZ! Today’s high is 86° which is probably going to set a record. Tomorrow’s low may also set a record… You never know especially this time of the year.
So, until next time, be safe, stay positive, give thanks and GET DIRTY as much as possible…