Why Succulents Have Become The Hippest Plants On The Market

Dr Allan ArmitageI’ll be the first to admit that I’m the least hip person I know. I’m probably the least hip person you know. I have worn the same dad jeans and navy-blue sweaters for the last 30 years (yes, they are washed occasionally). All I know about social media is that I should spend hours on it, even though I am exhausted when I tweet or Facebook for more than five minutes.

My knowledge of popular music is limited to Canadian folk artists, all of whom belong in The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? Perhaps Gordon Lightfoot is passé, but not Neil Young. Neil is eternal, bless his Shakey little heart.

So it should come to no one’s surprise that I totally missed the current succulent fad.

From Easily Forgotten To Mainstream

It was not so long ago that succulents were relegated to the far end of the display bench, where they were unfailingly overwatered and underlit, resulting in soggy messes that eventually decomposed in the pots until an employee was ordered to throw them out.

They weren’t even given the dignity of being classified as succulents. They were just a collection of oddball species like Echeveria and Crassula, with a few euphorbias mistakenly labeled (if anything was labeled) as cactus, and maybe some hens and chicks.

Today, they are ubiquitous: they’re for sale at garden centers, nurseries, and botanical gardens. They’re all over the big box stores where I go to stock up on my navy-blue sweaters once every four years. They decorate wedding receptions, and are given away as guest favors. They fill stone planters, spill from antiqued garden clogs and cowboy boots, and are essential to another trend I confess I also missed — miniature gardens.

Low Maintenance Adds To Succulents’ Appeal

When did this happen? Has the public been studying up on the beauty and properties of this forgotten flora? What has caused this coming out party?

As I scroll through the thousands of photos of succulents on Google, I see marvelous wreaths and colorful planters, potted combinations, and entire green roofs. I see them painted, tie-dyed, glittered, and bedazzled.

Floral designers incorporate them into arrangements for everything from holiday tabletops to poinsettia combinations. Good grief, brides even carry them down the aisle in their bouquets. Like Christmas fruitcake, they will last forever. It leaves me awestruck.

I expect that explains the emergence of succulents. That people have enjoyed such exquisite lemonade from seeming lemons was a surprise, but these plants have always had something few other plants have — a virtual absence of maintenance.

Decorative value has always been an important part of the gardening/landscaping conversation, but today, low (no) maintenance is the main topic. This is good for everyone, even that misunderstood group we know as Millennials. Since it seems that they know of nothing but their smartphones, plants that take care of themselves may sneak into the blogosphere of their minds.

Versatile Succulents Offer Something For Everyone

While I may have missed the revolution, I do understand the charm of succulents. There are so many different kinds of succulents that “real” gardeners can collect them forever and designers will never run out of ideas for how to use them. And they are so tough, anyone can be successful.

Like any trend (tillandsias at the Oscars, anyone?), who knows how long this fascination will last? But God bless those growers and retailers who are savvy enough to recognize how easy they are to grow and how quickly they’re flying off the bench.

As for me, I am content. As long as we excite buyers, I applaud. And there yet remains a fabulous group of succulents for everyone, the sedums. The plantsman in me will celebrate them in another column, but for now, well, I am just happy my daughters are already married.

Topics: , ,

Leave a Reply

2 comments on “Why Succulents Have Become The Hippest Plants On The Market

  1. I’ve always had a soft spot for the exquisite shapes and textures of succulents. I am thrilled that they have gained in popularity as it has greatly expanded the selection available – particularly when I lose a few over the winter (intentionally or unintentionally). These days I’m working more with hardy sedums and sempervivums. After all, there are so many, and overwintering crassula, aloe and echeveria under lights in my basement is not my favorite winter task. They’re usually not too happy about it either.

More From Varieties...

August 23, 2016

Kick Spring Sales Up A Notch With 18 New Plant Introductions For 2017

It’s time to look forward to the spring season and what plants will get your business off to the right start. These 18 new cultivars have all the traits of good breeding — uniform habits, bold colors, showy blooms, good vigor, and excellent branching.

Read More

August 23, 2016

Gardens Alive! Parent Company Buys Zelenka Farms

  Zelenka Farms, which has been in Chapter 11 bankruptcy, says LM Farms, which owns Gardens Alive!, has purchased the company and all of its assets. BFN Operations LLC and its affiliated entities, d/b/a Zelenka Farms, operated one of the largest wholesale nurseries in the U.S. Its products include shrubs, trees, perennials, roses, and groundcovers. The owners of Gardens Alive! have successfully purchased several other companies from bankruptcy and are experienced nursery managers. Niles Kinerk, Chairman of LM Farms, stated that “the opportunity to purchase Zelenka Farms assets and to continue the turnaround that is well underway is exactly the kind of opportunity that we look for. We understand the efforts of the management team led by Eric Ek and others have been successful, and we will support the management team in the coming months and years.” Zelenka Farms operates its six facilities across the key growing regions in the […]

Read More
Coreopsis-UpTickCream-19793-DarwinPerennials

August 20, 2016

Growing Tips On Coreopsis UpTick Series From John Wilson At Seville Farms

Editor’s Note: In this new feature, the Greenhouse Grower varieties team will choose one noteworthy variety each month we think is worth bringing to your attention. Then we’ll share growers’ and breeders’ perspectives on the best ways to produce it successfully at your operation. This month we focus on the hardy Coreopsis UpTick series, winner of Greenhouse Grower’s 2016 Industry’s Choice Medal of Excellence for Breeding. Growing Tips From John Wilson, Seville Farms When asked about producing Coreopsis UpTick, John Wilson says he doesn’t have much to say because it was so easy to grow. Wilson, a Corporate Grower for Seville Farms, says based on the new series’ strong performance during the trialing he has done so far, the nursery ordered a large quantity of the plants for future growing. “If breeders were looking to come up with something that says ‘wow,’ they have done it with the UpTick Series,” […]

Read More
Latest Stories

August 23, 2016

Kick Spring Sales Up A Notch With 18 New Plant Introduc…

It’s time to look forward to the spring season and what plants will get your business off to the right start. These 18 new cultivars have all the traits of good breeding — uniform habits, bold colors, showy blooms, good vigor, and excellent branching.

Read More

August 23, 2016

Gardens Alive! Parent Company Buys Zelenka Farms

  Zelenka Farms, which has been in Chapter 11 bankruptcy, says LM Farms, which owns Gardens Alive!, has purchased the company and all of its assets. BFN Operations LLC and its affiliated entities, d/b/a Zelenka Farms, operated one of the largest wholesale nurseries in the U.S. Its products include shrubs, trees, perennials, roses, and groundcovers. The owners of Gardens Alive! have successfully purchased several other companies from bankruptcy and are experienced nursery managers. Niles Kinerk, Chairman of LM Farms, stated that “the opportunity to purchase Zelenka Farms assets and to continue the turnaround that is well underway is exactly the kind of opportunity that we look for. We understand the efforts of the management team led by Eric Ek and others have been successful, and we will support the management team in the coming months and years.” Zelenka Farms operates its six facilities across the key growing regions in the […]

Read More
Coreopsis-UpTickCream-19793-DarwinPerennials

August 20, 2016

Growing Tips On Coreopsis UpTick Series From John Wilso…

Editor’s Note: In this new feature, the Greenhouse Grower varieties team will choose one noteworthy variety each month we think is worth bringing to your attention. Then we’ll share growers’ and breeders’ perspectives on the best ways to produce it successfully at your operation. This month we focus on the hardy Coreopsis UpTick series, winner of Greenhouse Grower’s 2016 Industry’s Choice Medal of Excellence for Breeding. Growing Tips From John Wilson, Seville Farms When asked about producing Coreopsis UpTick, John Wilson says he doesn’t have much to say because it was so easy to grow. Wilson, a Corporate Grower for Seville Farms, says based on the new series’ strong performance during the trialing he has done so far, the nursery ordered a large quantity of the plants for future growing. “If breeders were looking to come up with something that says ‘wow,’ they have done it with the UpTick Series,” […]

Read More
Eucomis arrangement from Golden State Bulb

August 19, 2016

What’s New With Blooming Potted Plants

From exotic orchids and lilies to flashy red cyclamen and jaunty gerberas, new blooming potted plants come in every shape, size, and color.

Read More
Craspedia Golf Ball Beauty (Danziger)

August 19, 2016

Learn How Unconventional Plants Can Be Hidden Gems

According to Kelly Norris, plant breeding inspired by consumer motivations and interests restores our connection with consumers thirsty for out-of-the-ordinary plants.

Read More
Petunia 'Moonstruck' (2015 Welby Gardens Field Trials)

August 9, 2016

Welby Gardens Names Top Selections From Its Trial Garde…

Welby Gardens, an exclusive grower of Hardy Boy Plants, tested more than 900 varieties this year in its field and container trials. Find out which varieties were the cream of the crop.

Read More

August 6, 2016

Growing Tips On Petunia ‘Night Sky’ From Da…

Production tips for Petunia ‘Night Sky’ from Dan Chaney, Vice President of Production, at Ivy Acres.

Read More
Janeen Wright

August 5, 2016

Deliver Plant Performance As Promised

It would be ludicrous to promise more than you can deliver. But you can deliver more than you promise to your greenhouse customers.

Read More
OSU 2016 In-Ground trials

August 2, 2016

Ohio State University 2016 Plant Trials Offer Real-Time…

The Ohio State University (OSU) displayed more than 500 cultivars for evaluation this year at the Chadwick Arboretum and Learning Gardens in Columbus, OH. Several Cultivate'16 attendees took the opportunity to wander the trial grounds and evaluate in-ground entries and those in sun and shade containers and hanging baskets.

Read More
Bellis Speedster (Benary)

August 2, 2016

How Fall Can Be About More Than Pansies

Allan Armitage suggests a few notable plants for the fall shoulder, fall sales, and spring shoulder seasons.

Read More
Petunia 'Amore Queen of Hearts' from Danziger

August 1, 2016

Danziger Targets Future Growth With Recent Management C…

The changes will provide a foundation of growth, creativity, and innovation, notes Micha Danziger, who will now serve as chairman of the Board of Directors.

Read More
Griffin 2017 Seed and Plant catalog

July 31, 2016

Griffin 2017 Plant Catalog Now Available In Print And D…

The print catalog features more than 280 new varieties, while the digital edition has several bonus resources.

Read More
Westhoff-Florist Holland combos

July 30, 2016

Pair New Spring Crops With Fresh Ideas For Increased Sa…

There are plenty of exciting, new spring crops to consider incorporating into your crop selection. What will set your operation apart is how creative you are about what plants you select, and how you promote them.

Read More
Pleasant View Gardens Savor Edibles

July 22, 2016

Pleasant View Gardens Targets Millennials With Savor Ed…

Taking something as ubiquitous as vegetables and herbs and giving it a fresh new look is no easy task, but Pleasant View Gardens took on the challenge with extensive research and creative marketing.

Read More
Dummen New Columbus Office

July 21, 2016

Dümmen Orange Opens New North American Headquarters In …

The new office, which officially opened during Cultivate’16, supports the company’s vision to be integrated into a vibrant and inspiring community, and provides a bright, modern workspace for its approximately 30 local employees.

Read More
Pollen Free Lisianthus

July 20, 2016

Sakata Seed Develops World’s First Pollen-Free Lisianth…

With no stamen to produce pollen, the new Lisianthus varieties have improved flower durability and the benefit of no scattered pollen that can cause staining of flowers and machines.

Read More

July 19, 2016

17 New Vegetable Intros For Greenhouse Production

New varieties of edibles introduced at 2016 California Spring Trials offer something for every type of gardener, from the beginning do-it-yourselfer to the hardcore, heirloom-only type. Check out some of the new varieties we saw at Spring Trials this year that will be available for retail in 2017.

Read More
One Earth Edibles From Peace Tree Farm

July 16, 2016

How To Capture Your Share Of The Edibles Market

At Peace Tree Farm, One Earth Edibles represent healthy living on a healthy planet.

Read More
[gravityform id="35" title="false" description="false"]