How to avoid getting scammed when buying succulents

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So you have decided to take the plunge and buy a succulent on ebay... Buying a succulent online as opposed to in a nursery can be stressful since you cannot pick up the plant and have a good look at it.
Here are a few tips from my experience about not getting scammed.
  • Read the description carefully. A quick online image search for the name of the plant will tell you if the name matches the description and the photo shown.
  • Read the seller's feedback. Do they despatch quickly? Are people generally happy with the purchase. Most plants will be happy in the post for a few days.
  • Many sellers (whether they say so or not) will send you the plant bare -rooted, that is without the pot and most of the soil. This is common and over the years I have found the plant survives the post better this way.
  • Does the plant in the photo have many dead leaves. If they are mushy, it is a sign of over watering. Also check for signs of diseases, for example, leaves with bruises, spot or yellowing.
  • Does the seller show you a photo of the plant you are buying as opposed to a stock photo of the plant in flower to lure you into buying it? If they don't, ask for one. If they refuse to show you a photo of the plant you are buying, alarm bells should be ringing. Beware that some succulents such as Agaves and Sempervivum are monocarpic (flower once and then die). They will usually throw out a good number of pups during their lifetime though.
  • Sellers advertising a new hybrid. If the seller is a reputable nursery with many years of experience growing plants, they are likely to be okay.  A few sellers I have seen have been selling a new "RED" (or some other colour hybrid) version of some reasonably common succulent for an extortionate price. Many succulents turn red if severely stressed by too much sunlight or drought. The photos are often digitally enhance to look attractive. Do some research on whether the plant naturally turns red under bright light else you might be disappointed by a plant that promptly reverts to its green colour under your good care.
  •  Painted succulents. This is a growing trend. Again a quick image search will tell you if the plant you are about to buy is really naturally neon blue with silver glitter or has been spray painted or dipped in paint. Beware that such plants are temporary (and if they are advertised as such, then that is fine) and you should not expect them to survive. Plants need sunlight to produce food and the layer of paint on the leaves stop this.
Finally, there are many good sellers out there so get shopping!
--written by a BzzAgent
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