Since a few years, one of our local DIY-superstores has a succulent plant section, with plants provided by a local wholesale grower. There are many good reasons NOT to buy living plants or animals in a hardware store and, thanks to EU laws, sad dogs, cats and parrots and their cages have been banned to the specialized zoo-shops. That helps a bit, but ethics still are inappropriate when the living being we are dealing with are invertebrates, fish or plants, grown industrially by the millions for season window boxes and disposable use like a soft tissue. It’s easy to ignore wilted Geraniums while buying nails; for you can get them nearly the same prize at a florists nearby. Even some of the more attractive offers, like big and wellgrown Anthuriums can be refused even if you know, that you’ll have to pay a fiver more in the nursery.
It makes a difference when plants are looked after at the place where they are sold. With a minimum of daylight, water, space and ventilation. And, supposedly, knowledge. But what do you do when you see Anacampseros, Dorstenia, truncate Haworthia, and the rest of the succulent family displayed in alveolar trays – one euro each! – ready to die on the bottom shelf?
Obviously I did wrong. These plants I’d hardly ever seen at one of our five big nurseries, nor at the florists. One employee of the wholesale grower, who happened to be right there refilling the shelves just when I was still fighting against my better judgement, confirmed they didn’t sell at retail. I made a compromise, left those I didn’t know how to care for and took only a few.
Now, the only sensitive thing I can do is getting these plants to survive, to grow and to flower.
And eventually, get seeds, sow a few and give away the excess.