Cactusgories

Last March, after a harrowing move from one side of the county to the other, I needed something to keep me grounded. I went to the garden section of my local department store. I adopted a house plant, an aloe vera succulent. I’m not alone in this pursuit: “In the US, the 2016 National Gardening Report found that of the six million Americans new to gardening, five million of those were aged between 18 to 34.” (The Independent) Millennials, usually stuck behind a screen of some sort, often buy succulents and hardy cacti to have something real to take care of, and succulents are best because they thrive on neglect. Millennials can’t afford kids, and most landlords don’t allow pets, so succulents are a cheaper alternative and much harder to kill. My aloe vera plant is a balm after a recent heartbreak, lives in a cute terra-cotta pot, and is very easy to take care of.

Two years ago, when I moved into my first apartment, a friend gave me a house-warming gift: a tiny succulent, my very first. Oh, how I loved that succulent — I watered it once every three weeks, I gave it the best spots of sun, I named it Marquis Canterford the Third and called it Mr. Cackles for short. When I moved into my next apartment, Mr. Cackles was overturned while I was driving, and I cried very much, thinking that was the end of him. However, when my roommate picked Mr. Cackles up from the floor of my car, he hadn’t been harmed at all. In fact, he was glued into his pot. Mr. Cackles had been fake the whole time. I swore off plants and refused to have my heart broken again. Then, last March, I worked at an app start-up company. After a long weekend of working, my boss asked me if I owned a plant to take care of at home. I said no, and explained my sad story. She laughed and told me that I should get myself a plant. She insisted. I decided it was homework, and since I was already done moving, I decided a real one would be okay to have. I would love it just as much as I had loved Mr. Cackles, perhaps even more. So I brought home my aloe vera plant, a plant not only loved for its fleshy leaves and speckled edges, but for its medicinal properties: “Growing aloe vera houseplants is not only easy but can also provide your family with a plant that can treat minor burns and rashes.” according to Gardening Know How. Plus, it was in line with the app I was making, and thus, my aloe soothed my heartbreak, making it a very good succulent. 

My aloe vera plant, who I declined to name, came in a pretty terra-cotta pot, cube-shaped. According to Drought Smart Plants, terra-cotta pots are some of the best pots for succulents, because they are heavier than plastic pots; many succulents can get very top heavy, and tipping over is a real danger. Terra-cotta pots also drain better than plastic pots do, and few succulents can tolerate standing water for very long. My terra-cotta pot came with designs on each of its four sides, decorated with an array of pleasing colors. My aloe vera plant in its terra-cotta pot stands on top of a small terra-cotta plate, to catch any drained water at the bottom so it doesn’t go all over my windowsill. When I water my plant, I make sure to clean off the terra-cotta plate as well, which is very easy with a cloth and some water. 

Aloe vera plants are best kept indoors and are very vulnerable to frost, which is great for me because I don’t own or rent any land, just the inside of an apartment. Aloe vera plants should be kept in well-drained soil; a cactus mix is said to be the best, according to an article from Apartment Therapy. Aloe vera plants, like most succulents, prefer to survive on very little attention. In the summer, you can absolutely soak them, as long as you’ve made sure they have good drainage. Then, allow them to dry very well before you water them again. In the wintertime, when they’re dormant, it’s best to just ignore them, which is great for me, because that’s when school is busiest.

“They’re each your own little baby,” says Joseph Wanek about his plants, in an article from the Washington Post. My aloe vera plant is best for me, because it has helped with my heartbreak of having cared for and loved a fake cactus, and to get through the stress of moving and working on my iOS application. My aloe vera plant is best for me because it comes in a cute terra-cotta pot, which is one of the best containers for a succulent. My aloe vera plant is best for me because it’s easy to take care of in the winter and it thrives on neglect. For millennials like me, an aloe vera plant or another succulent is the best choice for all of these reasons. 

Bibliography

Cammidge, Jacki. “Terracotta Clay Pots – My Favorite Containers for Succulents.” Drought Smart Plants, 2016, http://www.drought-smart-plants.com/terracotta-clay-pots.html.

Combiths, Shifrah. “Aloe Vera Plants: Best Tips for Growing & Care.” Apartment Therapy, Apartment Therapy, LLC., 5 Aug. 2015, http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/aloe-vera-plants-our-best-tips-for-growing-care-220964.

Gander, Kashmira. “The Sad Reason Millennials Are so Obsessed with House Plants.” The Independent, Independent Digital News and Media, 17 Nov. 2017, http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/millennials-houseplants-children-kids-money-families-succulent-cactus-bonsai-how-to-dying-a7937021.html.

Heather, Rhoades. “Aloe Vera Plant Care – How To Grow An Aloe Plant.” Gardening Know How, 8 May 2018, http://www.gardeningknowhow.com/houseplants/aloe-vera/aloe-vera-plant-care.htm.

Ramanathan, Lavanya. “Millennials Are Filling Their Homes – and the Void in Their Hearts – with Houseplants.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 7 Sept. 2017, http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/young-urbanites-are-filling-their-homes-and-the-void-in-their-hearts-with-houseplants/2017/09/06/ec98993c-89c8-11e7-961d-2f373b3977ee_story.html?utm_term=.31c6a921d85b.

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