Before opening last August, Trena Madrigal recalls brainstorming with her family about what to name their new business when her 11-year-old son said, “What about Straight Up Succulents, mom?”
Short, sweet—straight up.
The Napa resident and mother of six spent years crafting succulent arrangements as a hobby before opening a local business on Broadway in American Canyon.
Straight Up Succulents offers a variety of goods and services including a one-of-a-kind nursery experience—what Madrigal calls a planting bar — where clients can enjoy designing their own succulent arrangements.
The planting bar hosts an assortment of colorful succulents, cacti, agave and other rare plants, as well as a variety of decorative pebbles, mosses, and sands that planters can incorporate into their designs.
Whether clients pick out a distinctive terrarium from the shop or bring their own planting containers, Madrigal is on site to share in the joy of getting her hands dirty while offering guidance on how to care for succulent plants.
Madrigal said she chose succulents because, “They are so versatile — you can cut them, glue them, make them into art — what you can do with them is unbelievable.” Plus, “they thrive on neglect.”
The family-owned and -operated nursery welcomes everyone, from those just beginning to discover an interest in gardening to horticultural experts who are adding to their collections. In fact, those concerned about having a “brown thumb” may find a love for succulents given their low-maintenance nature.
Although there are some factors that inform how to tend to different types of succulent plants — such as size and whether the plant is placed inside or outside — caring for succulents comes down to two of nature’s forces: sun and water.
“The plants need sunlight, at least filtered sunlight if not full sunlight, in order to thrive,” the nursery owner explained.
One common misconception is that succulents can live inside without sunlight, which Madrigal clarifies is not a hospitable habitat for a plant.
In general, when the plants are housed in pots with drainage, “Water them well.”
However, Madrigal made clear, “do not water succulents again until they have completely dried out; never water them when their soil is still moist.” She added that two weeks is a typical interval for watering.
What makes succulent species so enduring in direct sunlight is their water-storing tissues. Their roots, stems, and leaves can retain water for long periods of time—a trait called succulence. This succulence is what gives the plants their swollen, tactile look.
With megadrought predictions looming, folks may want to seriously consider adding a few of these drought-resistant plants to their homes and gardens.
However, although succulent plants are self-sufficient, capturing and saving even mist and dew, they should be covered in a breathable material to protect them from frost during certain times of year.
If they can be cared for properly, Madrigal said they can live forever.
In addition to the nursery and planting bar, Straight Up Succulents provides small workshops and classes for planting, designing arrangements, and caring for rare plants.
Clients can invite Straight Up Succulents for special events to take place at local venues such as wineries. Clients also can book private events at the nursery or at family homes.
Madrigal builds custom art pieces that can be hung or displayed. Some of her popular designs are vertical wall planters and intricate wreaths. However, Madrigal relishes the challenge of bringing new visions to life using the space a client has available.
Growing up, Madrigal dreamt of being an artist and said, “Being able to make amazing things, that are living, out of plants is a blessing.”
More than anything, running Straight Up Succulents is about sharing beauty and joy — plus it’s easy to make friends along the way, she said.
“Treating people as friends is what has gotten me to where I am at,” Madrigal said. “What I do has to do with people—I want people to feel like they have had a personal experience, so that when they leave they feel like a friend rather than a customer.”
Her passion for exotic plants combined with her natural creativity and kindness toward others, Madrigal said, “I never feel like I’m at work.”
As businesses in Napa Valley are reopening, Madrigal is wearing a mask at the nursery to protect visitors. She asks that guests also wear masks and be mindful of social distancing.
However, Straight Up Succulents is open for business and thrilled to be back serving the community. The nursery is open at 4225 Broadway in American Canyon, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. as well as Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
For more information, visit Straight Up Succulents on Facebook or at straightupsucculents.com.
You can reach business editor Jennifer Huffman at 256-2218 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The business news you need
With a weekly newsletter looking back at local history.