Five Things You Should Avoid at the Big Box Gardening Stores

Do you love plants but struggle with the ones you get from your local store’s gardening section? Well, some plants at your local big box store actually weren’t made to last long. Sometimes the things that plant sellers do to sell more plants will actually kill them faster or will severely inhibit their growth. Here are five things you should avoid when buying plants!

1. Paint

Painted PlantsOne thing that you may see often are painted plants. Why do plant growers paint their plants? Aren’t plants pretty enough? Apparently not, as this is one of the ploys they do to generate sales.

What’s wrong with painted plants? Plants need to take in sunlight for photosynthesis. Covering a plant’s leaves with paint will stop that process from happening, and so the plant won’t be able to make the energy it needs to live. Without the surface area to make food, the plant will slowly die.

Some plant lovers will buy painted plants and try to gently remove or wash the paint off to save the plant.

Hopefully by not purchasing these, plant growers will see declining sales of that item and stop messing with a good thing!

2. Glitter

Glitter on plantsHave you ever seen plants covered in glitter? This mostly happens during the holidays, when retailers are trying to cash in on well-meaning gift-buyers.

However, it’s the same concept as painting plants, but with the added sparkle from glitter. You can definitely try to remove the glitter, but glitter in most cases is a non-biodegradable product.

Purchasing glitter-covered plants will only entice retailers to make more,  and since glitter is not eco-friendly, it’s best not to contribute to this trend!

Can you agree that glitter doesn’t belong on plants?

3. Colorful Cacti

Colorful cacti are dyed Sometimes you’ll see cacti with brightly colored spines. They’re definitely eye-catching, but this is a gimmick that plant growers do to entice plant newbies to buy! Yellow, pink, green and even purple cactus spines have been dyed to take on these colors. Any new spine growth will inevitably be white.

Does dying the spines have any effect on the plant health? Some people say that it shouldn’t have too much of an effect, as the plant itself should still be able to photosynthesize. However, I think the dye does block some light from reaching the plant, and another thing about these colorful spines is that it makes it difficult to see the actual plant underneath.

Without being able to see the skin of the cactus, you can’t tell how healthy it looks because it’s just a mass of colored cactus spines!

4. Succulents in Glass Terrariums

Glass TerrariumsTrendy things often have a beautiful aesthetic, but like most things trendy, they die out. That may be the case for the next item in my list: succulents in terrariums! Terrariums are great for plants that need humidity, like air plants, ferns, and moss. But what about succulents and cacti?

Too much moisture is a death sentence for most succulents and cacti! Placing these types of plants into glass is a bad idea, simply because glass keeps moisture in. Pair that with soil that can’t drain and dry properly, and all that moisture will lead to a rotting plant.

Overall, avoid glass at all costs for your succulents.

If you really want a terrarium, only use them for air plants, moss, and other terrarium-suited plants.

5. Plants in Pots without Drainage

Last but not least, one thing you should always avoid are pots without drainage. This is especially true for succulents, cacti, and for outdoor planters. You can sometimes repurpose items into planters by drilling holes, and that’s what some people do when they’re selling repurposed planters but that’s not always the case.

When purchasing a planted pot, always make sure there are drainage holes! You will have a happier plant if there’s drainage.

What if there’s a succulent arrangement that you’re dying to have but it doesn’t have drainage?

It would be difficult to drill holes into something that’s already perfectly planted, so instead you’ll have to be careful about watering. Keep it indoors or in a place protected from rain, and water enough to drench the soil without overfilling it. Don’t water again until the soil is completely dry. How would you check? Stick a finger into the soil (about an inch deep) to gauge the soil’s moisture.

Bonus tips & how to tell if a plant is healthy before buying

Other things you should keep in mind when purchasing plants:

  • For cacti, plant growers sometimes glue straw flowers onto the cactus. These are fake flowers! You can try to carefully remove them, but leaving them won’t have an effect on the plant’s health.
  • Before buying a plant, look at its leaves, stems, etc. to make sure it’s healthy!
    • Make sure leaves are plump and not mushy.
    • Don’t buy if you spot any pests.
    • Don’t buy if a lot of the leaves have fallen off.
    • Check for etiolation (stretched plants looking for sun).
    • Don’t buy a cactus if it looks deflated/sunken in.
    • Don’t buy a cactus if it has a dark brown or black spot (could be rot).

Want to skip the big box store and want to purchase plants from legit growers? You can always buy succulents and cacti from reputable websites like Leaf & Clay or Mountain Crest Gardens.

I hope this helps you the next time you’re in a big box store looking for plants!

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