Sunday Herald Sun - Stellar - - Living - By Neale Whi­taker Neale Whi­tak­erWh is edi­tor-in-chief of

Cac­tus envy is such a prickly thing. I once had a bad case in Lon­don. Not con­tent with hav­ing a cool loft apart­ment with in­dus­tri­al­style kitchen and con­crete floors, my friend Alas­tair had the big­gest cac­tus you have ever seen. It was a gi­ant red­wood amongst cacti. Per­haps there were larger spec­i­mens in the Mo­jave, but not in Shored­itch. By con­trast, my lit­tle col­lec­tion of suc­cu­lents (I thought more was more while Alas­tair un­der­stood the power of one) seemed sad and shriv­elled, more naff than Navajo.

How­ever, times change and we all learn size isn’t ev­ery­thing. Cacti dropped off the style radar and I pitied poor Alas­tair and his mas­sive spiky totem.

But af­ter the re­cent re­vival of rub­ber plants and fid­dle-leaf figs, and our crush on ver­ti­cal gar­dens, fash­ion dic­tates cacti are once again hav­ing their time – quite lit­er­ally – in the sun, and I’m de­lighted. Their dra­matic forms look amaz­ing against our favourite blue walls, dec­o­ra­tive tiles and cane-backed fur­ni­ture. Think Mex­ico City in Frida Kahlo’s day. It’s a look that works beau­ti­fully in the Aus­tralian cli­mate.

Heidi Al­ber­tiri, of The Life Style Edit (the­, sees the pop­u­lar­ity of cacti as an evo­lu­tion. “With the resur­gence of in­door plants, cacti are a nat­u­ral pro­gres­sion,” she ex­plains. “Most peo­ple have jumped on the plant wagon [only] to re­alise that main­te­nance is hard work. Cacti and suc­cu­lents are low-main­te­nance and nat­u­rally tol­er­ant.”

Gar­den Life di­rec­tor Richard Unsworth (gar­den­ says ys Opun­tia (“prickly pear”) and Euphor­bia or­bia (“cow­boy”) are the most pop­u­lar choices: hoices: “They’re the It plants in the in­ner city.”

But un­like two decades ago, thi­sis tim time it re­ally is about size. One ov over­sized cac­tus makes more im­pactact th than a hand­ful of small ones, and lands some­where be­tween a plant and art­work. Think of it as af­ford­able sculp­ture.

And it’s all about tough love. “Don’t smother them,” says Al­ber­tiri. “Cacti are per­fect low-fi com­pan­ions. Water when the soil has dried out but don’t over over-wa­ter­wate as they can rot. Make sure your pot has a drainage hole.”

Unswo Unsworth ad­vises wa­ter­ing in­door cacti mon monthly and not at all dur­ing win­ter. “A “As a gen­eral rule, they need a well-lit ro room next to a sunny win­dow.”

Alasta Alas­tair, you’re on-trend again.

Vogue L Liv­ing.

1. HAY c chair, $629, cult­de­sign. 2. POP & SCOTT pot, $135, popands popand­ 3. JATAN JATANA INTERIORS $165/m², jatanain­te­ri­

LIV­ING ART Big or small, cac­tus plants are loved for their low-main­te­nance and sculp­tural forms.

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