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Durham, NC

Durham, NC


15 ways plant lovers are set up to fail
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15 ways plant lovers are set up to fail

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Have you ever blamed yourself for killing a plant?

Don’t worry. You aren’t the only one. 

When we first started our plant parenthood, we blamed ourselves for not being able to keep plants alive, but after extensive research, we realized all of our plants were dying because we were set up to fail from the beginning. 

There is a reason why so many people have a difficult time keeping plants alive. It is getting more and more difficult to find plants from small growers who know how to care for their plants and set them up properly once indoors. Most big box retail plants pass through so many hands after the greenhouse (wholesale brokers, retail holding spaces, etc.) before they end up in stores where they are purchased. 

The problem is these plants are moved with the lowest cost in mind and are often sold in incorrect soils and without experienced instruction in the best cases. In the worst cases, the plants are sold spray painted, in glass, or glued into a planter, which will certainly result in the death of the plant. 

It is most important to make sure your plant has the correct soil, planter, and care instructions before you start.

At Tierra Sol Studio, we grow our own hardy and low maintenance plants, make the planters for their needs, mix soil for their plant type, test them for at least a year in a variety of indoor environments so that we know what they need from greenhouse to indoor planter. This way we are able to provide instructions for specific amounts of water and light depending on the season so that we can help you skip ahead on the plant parent learning curve.

All of this work goes into our Plant Care Kits that set you up for as much plant success as possible.

Most plant retail isn’t like this. Instead, you’re set up to fail. From plants, planters, soil + sand, and instructions, your ability to properly take care of your plants might have been out of your hands from the start. These are the ways plant lovers are set up for failure:



Many big box plant sellers are focused on low cost and aesthetics, rather than the health of the plant which means:

  1. Selling plants that are hard to keep alive indoors like Echeverias and other delicate succulents that prefer the outdoors.
  2. Growing plants in really terrible dirt and soil meaning they are unhealthy when bought and already halfway dead. Usually, they’ll live just long enough for you to believe it’s your fault when in reality, it was already gone when you got it. 
  3. Selling plants in the wrong planters, the wrong soil, and in globes or glass for aesthetic reasons. 
  4. Gluing flowers onto the cacti and succulents or spray painting them (I died from seeing this).

When it comes to our plants, we focus on the health of the plants and make sure to set up any Plant Killer for success. 



We know aesthetics and design are very important but there’s much more to planters than that! Most planters and pots:

  1.  Are too big for the plant they are sold with so they don’t create the right soil ratio. Soil ratio is one of the most important steps to set you up for plant success!
  1.  Are sealed or glazed so they hold in extra water and keep oxygen out. The exact opposite of what we want to do. 
  1.  Aren’t absorbent or don't have a drainage hole so they hold in water and can create mold or fungus and attract pests. 
  1.  Don’t create the correct environment for your plant. (For example, glass containers create a humid environment that desert plants such as cacti and succulents won’t survive in.)

We designed our planters to avoid these common issues. We make each of our planters by hand for the specific needs of each plant type using a unique firing technique so each plant is set up in an environment as close to its natural one while being indoors. 

S O I L   +   S A N D

When we first got into plant care we thought any old bag of soil would do. We couldn’t have been more wrong! Through our experiments over the years, we found out just how terrible soil can be. 

  1.   Cacti and succulents from the big box stores are usually sold in really awful, dusty, compacted soil. We’re talking about the soil where you pull your plant out and the soil stays in the same shape as the planter. You know what we’re talking about, right? That soil, when lightly compacted, can create a horribly mucky consistency that holds water against the plant for too long. When it’s highly compacted, the water won’t saturate the soil and it will never reach the roots. Either way, this soil is a lose-lose. 
  1. Bagged cactus and succulent soil is usually really dusty, full of perlite, and isn’t good for you to breathe in or great for your plants to live in. 
  1. Big box stores have bagged soil that’s fine for outside but it has too much mulch for indoor plants. These soils hold too much water which can lead to overwatering and mold development. 

We were never able to find soil that we were happy with so we decided to make our own! We’ve spent a long time developing our very own soil recipe and now we mix our small batch soil for the needs of each plant type. 

P L A N T   C A R E   I N S T R U C T I O N S 

Typical plant selling is a little disjointed - there are the plants that arrive weekly that have different needs and challenges and are sold without being tested in soil and planters that match their needs. Most instructions and advice:

  1. Are vague and refer to how the plants are cared for in a short period of time at a plant shop while in plastic growers cups or how they are watered in growers cup in a greenhouse which is very different from indoors in a permanent planter.
  2. Tell you to buy the wrong soil for the needs of your plant- we talked about how harmful this can be above.
  3. Are too generalized and don’t account for the needs of the plant changing with the seasons. It gets too confusing too fast. 
  4. Tell you to buy fancy tools that you don’t really need such as grow lights or fancy mister. These are our 4 least favorite plant tools. 

Every single one of our plant kits comes with tested instructions that we stand by. After years of research and experimentation with the plants we grow, planters we make for their specific needs, and soil we mix for each plant type, we can help guide you through indoor plant care with our tested plant kits.


If your plant journey feels like an obstacle course, that’s because it’s been set up like one. We’ve been there. We get the frustration and the confusion when you see how easy it can be for other people! This is why we started Tierra Sol Studio. We researched and experimented until we could figure it out and we want to help you have plants and help you become the best plant parent you can be with our Plant Kits and Save-a-Plant Kit that solve all of these problems.  

xo, Seana