No Cacti As Houseplants – Not In The Garden Either

By Teo Spengler | January 14, 2021
Image by Doug Dolde
by Teo Spengler
January 14, 2021

Cacti are fascinating plants. I love to look at them, read about them and tour through wild cactus forests. But after seeing their magnificence in the wild, I have never felt the desire to buy a small indoor cactus for the house, and none of my climates are very conducive to cactus growth anyway.

Saguaro National Park – All the Cactus Plants I Need

The first time I drove from San Francisco to Mexico, I passed through saguaro territory. This extends from mid-Arizona down into northern Mexico, an area called the Saguaro Desert, 

and if you haven’t visited, put it on your list. Camping in the middle of saguaros is the experience of a lifetime, punctuated by the howl of the coyotes somewhere out of sight.

Like the redwoods, saguaros have a deep wisdom and a majesty that always moves me deeply, making me want to be a better person, worry less, and see more sunsets. Somehow, though, I never felt the inclination to buy or keep any cacti as houseplants after that visit. 

Cactus Climates Don’t Work for Me

I also have to say that I’ve never lived somewhere cactus plants might thrive outdoors. Cacti grow in the wild in a variety of regions, but – unlike redwoods – they don’t appreciate fog and rain. Coastal Northern California is decidedly not a cactus’s first choice for a home, given the morning and evening “air conditioning” that sweeps in like a cold carpet from the Pacific. 

My house in France is also located in an equally unappealing region for cacti. The rainstorms are legendary, and winters can be icy. The shrubs and trees that thrive there are oaks and holly, beeches, and blackberries, all plants that know how to hold on when the south winds rage in winter.

Of course, many people grow cacti as houseplants. I see them for sale in the garden stores, miniature cactus plants in fascinating different constructions. They are ready, willing and able to sit on a window sill and look artsy, but I never yield to the temptation. 

One day, perhaps, I will live in Arizona with saguaros in the neighborhood. But until then, I’ll do without or get my fill at the botanical garden succulent section.  

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