Tucked between Pat’s Pizza and the Nest in downtown Orono is Mainely Succulents, a bohemian, family-friendly plant boutique. Open Fridays and Saturdays from noon to 6 p.m., and Mondays through Thursdays by appointment, people of all ages frequent Mainely Succulents to both browse and learn about locally-grown greenery. Owner, Lauren Tuell, a mother of three and token plant guru, aims to bring the Orono community together through connecting with the natural world.
When first entering Mainely Succulents, you’re greeted with a sunny, modern space blossoming with vining plants and succulents. The shop features a plant-your-own station, pots from both local artists and made from found pieces by the shop owner, macramé hangers and more. Providing plants that cater to both avid growers and novices, Tuell sells simple, low-light plants such as varieties of pothos and rare plants like monstera cuttings. As the shop name suggests, she has many succulents available, perfect for a dorm, which you can either grab-and-go and re-pot in your favorite container from home or pick a pot and decorate it with various stones and ornaments in the plant-your-own station.
Prior to opening her succulent business in 2019, Tuell graduated from the University of Maine with a degree in Child Development, originally seeking a career in teaching, though she later shifted her focus to marketing. Her idea for starting a succulent business began after creating “Grow With Us” succulent favors at her own wedding, something everyone who took one loved. Tuell always enjoyed plants and the natural world growing up, as her father helped instilled a love for gardening in her. With her marketing background, she had the means to start a business doing what she loves.
“It had so much potential I couldn’t not go for it,” Tuell said.
Tuell then became a stay-at-home mother involving herself with growing and arranging plants for weddings and craft fairs, volunteering for community gardens and eventually taking a University of Maine Cooperative Extension Master Gardening course to further her natural education. She began selling her succulents at a local downtown Bangor shop, The Willie Wags, and started learning business from example and self-teaching.
“I had no idea how to do retailing,” Tuell said, but with help from Jaime Clark, the owner of The Willie Wags, Tuell was able to host regular workshops for the public. After gaining a significant amount of retail experience, she sought out her own space in downtown Orono when the opportunity arose.
Once settled in, Tuell set her focus on bringing the local community a touch of green this winter season.
“I want people to realize gardening is therapeutic; gardening is learned … anyone can love plants,” Tuell said.
For Tuell, “Family is number one,” so naturally her shop has a corner for everyone. With three children of her own, she understands the importance of having a “kid-space,” where children can play with Legos, color, paint and when they’re ready, even create a fairy garden in one of her workshops. For teens and adults, Tuell offers individual parties, meaning a group of 10 or more, where people can gather and plant for a fun night, a birthday party or just-because, along with regular workshops. For those who struggle with caring for their plants, Tuell offers plant assessment, where you can bring in your plants from home and learn about their special care.
At the end of this month, Tuell has decided to start her own free to join plant club. The first meeting will be on Feb. 28, from 5-7p.m. in her shop, where people may come and learn about the world of plants, later guided by goals decided on by the group — perfect for UMaine students looking to de-stress and get creative.
If you can’t find the time to stop in, you can follow the shop on Instagram @mainelysucculents and on her Facebook page: Mainely Succulents, where Tuell updates her followers on upcoming events, plant care and sneak-peaks as to what is coming to her shop.