London - Green, prickly and popping up in a living room near you, adorned with baubles, tinsel and twinkling lights... no, I’m not talking trees. For Christmas 2018, the greenery of choice is not the humble fir but the cactus.
According to one national garden centre chain, cacti sales have "spiked" by more than 50 percent. Internet searches are rocketing (Google generates over 337 million results), while online retailer Amazon is selling "cactus Christmas trees" for £70 (about R1 200). Smaller versions are outstripping sales of traditional poinsettias and amaryllis as festive gifts.
The Christmas craze for cacti - once only associated with dusty Westerns and even dustier garden centre shelves - is the culmination of a trend that has seen them become the hottest plants this year.
Partly to blame is the shrub’s fanbase among millennials - the celebrity cactus clan includes models Cara Delevingne and Paris Jackson, and singer Miley Cyrus.
The allure now extends far beyond the world of gardening, taking in fashion, art, interior design and cosmetics. Fans can dress in cactus-themed outfits, decorate their homes with cactus wallpaper, eat off cactus crockery, slather "cactus flower" moisturiser on their bodies - and even drink cactus water.
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Big spenders, meanwhile, can splash out £187 000 on a gold, emerald and diamond cactus-shaped bracelet by Cartier.
Why have we become so transfixed? As pot plants go, they’re hardly things of beauty — and with popular varieties costing £100-plus, they’re not cheap.
Eddy Harris, secretary of the British Cactus and Succulent Society (BCSS) says the resurgence is down to the low-maintenance nature of cacti.
"Owners — young people especially — love them because they’re very easy to look after," he says. "You only have to water them during the growing months, typically March to October, and even then it’s once a week."
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Eddy, who has so many cacti he "doesn’t dare count", credits photo-sharing sites such as Instagram and Pinterest for spreading the word. "It allows enthusiasts to put theirs on display," he says.
And when these prickly customers are not disporting themselves on the internet, they flourish just as easily on window sills as they do in small gardens.Daily Mail