Despite their cowboy reputation, lately, cacti are as common in subway-tiled downtown juice bars as they are out on the range. Welcome to the next chapter in the indoor gardening movement. No matter. At least they’re bound to stick around longer than last year’s fickle fad, the fiddle leaf fig tree. You might even choose to see the plant’s surge in popularity as a response to these uncertain times. Because whatever macho connotations they may have gained from co-starring with John Wayne and Clint Eastwood, cacti really just stand for resilience – they’re known for withstanding droughts, after all. That said, a cactus still requires some care. We spoke to Chloe Fraser, owner of Toronto plant shop Flúr, for some tips on how to keep them alive.
Choosing a Beginner Model
(We swear we didn’t make these names up)
The standard-issue $10 desk cactus. Care for it properly and small flowers will bloom around its peak at the start of spring.
2. Golden Barrel
Squat, round, and ridged with long yellow spines. Buckminster Fuller probably had a photo of one of these pinned to his vision board for the original geodesic dome.
Disc-shaped and evocative of the deep sea. Its body is divided into several triangular ribs lined with tiny pods that look like the suction cups on octopus tentacles.
4. Bunny Ears
A good choice if you’re buying a plant to test your ability to care for a future pet rabbit.
5. Old Man
Spindly, and covered in a white plumage that looks like Gandalf’s beard. A great way to add some distinguished character to a new space.
Caring for a Cactus
Cacti need six hours of full sunlight a day. (You know, like in the desert.) That means they should be placed close to a west- or south-facing window. Rotate your plant occasionally to ensure each side gets its fix.
Desert lore has it that a sliced-open cactus can provide emergency hydration. In fact, drinking from one will make you quite sick. But it is true that cactuses store a significant water reserve, so during the spring and summer growing season, allow soil to dry completely before watering.
Most cacti enter a dormancy period during fall and winter, when they prefer cooler temperatures and less water. Move them away from radiators or heaters, and cut back to a light watering once a month.