• Lucy

Pricks, I've dated a few.

Ask any of my friends and they will firmly nod their heads and confirm I have dated many a prick over the years. Oh, hindsight’s a wonderful thing isn’t it? She says rolling her eyes. I am currently invoicing them all individually for the therapy and wasted time. We all make mistakes and poor choices along the way (I'm here to help you not to do that with your plant choices) so lets all just take a moment to feel content in knowing I (and I am sure many of you) had a lucky escape! Anyway, confident that the ‘He’s a prick’ years are behind me, let us talk about the best kind of pricks - the cactus type.

I bloody love a cactus.

Just in case you’re not convinced here are a few reasons why you should love them too;

Firstly, they are the most laid-back member of the gang. They rarely ask you for anything and will joyfully plod along in the sunny spots around your house. No fuss. Easy peasy!

Secondly, they happily stay alive whilst you’re on your two-week holiday. No holiday stress and no cacti deaths! It’s the worst coming back from your holiday to find all your plants have shrivelled up beyond repair or that they behave badly for months afterwards as pay back for deserting them. No chance a cactus will do that. In fact, they’ll be over the moon that you’ve let them dry out for a few weeks! On a side note, lockdown has my cacti pretty annoyed with me being permanently in the house. If they had eye’s they would be rolling them at me as I buzz around the house with my watering can wishing I’d f’off back to a simpler time where for them social distancing meant I was just out of their way.

Another bonus about hosting cacti in your home is they save you money on your plant watering bill during the second part of the year. Hell, yes! I hear you cry, tell us more! Well during autumn and winter, they basically don’t need watering – perhaps once a month max just to make sure their roots don’t dry out because of your central heating but other than that they’re more or less dormant until it starts warming up again. So kick back and relax in those cooler months, you can take a break on the watering and they won’t die. Score!

Chunky cacti in the Majorelle Gardens, Marrakech

Finally, there is so much damn choice. They come in so many different shapes, sizes, and levels of spikiness. Your collection could go on forever and ever! If you actually owned every single species of cactus you’d never get through the front door of your house. There must be a world record for who owns the most cacti… *googles it immediately*… nope! Okay then I’m going for it.

My favourite thing is that they all have their own little personalities. Wonderfully weird ones, perfectly formed ones, ugly bumpy ones, each of them giving you something a little different. Similar in a way to the Mr Men characters, each with their own mood. Mr Spikey, Mr Furry, Mr Smooth, Mr Fat Round Body and Mr Sneaky - looks like he’s not spikey but his spikes will be stuck in your fingers for weeks.

Just one caveat, the only downside to living with cacti is that they can look like they’re not doing very much. Don’t expect them to grow quickly, or bloom all the time. They’re slow, they take their time and they certainly are not going to be rushed by you. The huge ones are true masterpieces, the granddaddies of the plant world, sculptures in their own right.

And the good news is it is possible to get yours to follow in the footsteps of those huge bad boys. Well drained soil, some cactus feed on the odd occasion, lots of bright light and a chilled-out watering schedule will really help them along the way. You’re going to need bucket loads of patience as they will not be rushed but if you can be patient, then they will reward you.

Great, so case closed! I hope you’re all dashing off right now to get some cacti in your life! Trust me it’s the easiest kind of matchmaking, no heartbreak I promise and I guarantee you can find your cactus sole mate whatever your taste – the perfect prick!

Pages from 'The Observer's Book of Cacti & Other Succulents'