Maddie De Pree is a Junior, Vol. 2: In Which I Become A (Slightly) Reluctant Succulent Mom

By: Maddie De Pree, Columnist 

After years of resisting, I have finally caved: I am now the proud owner of two succulents.

I usually hate trendy things, and succulents are nothing if not en vogue. In the past few years, these little guys have taken Instagram by storm. Every entry-level art-girl has a collection of succulents on her windowsill. 50 years from now, they will probably reappear in stores as a retro throwback. In short, everybody loves them. And for good reason: succulents make great companions; succulents are the animals of the plant world.

My previous contempt for succulents was two-pronged. First, they are…well, basic. When an item is featured in an Urban Outfitters catalogue more than once, I have to reconsider its place in my life. Second, succulents are usually not cheap. Their trend-factor means that sellers can jack up the prices, and I am definitely not trying to blow half a paycheck on a cactus. In the end, though, how could I resist their squishy allure? So small! So cute! So green! (And thanks to FUSAB’s DIY Succulent Bar last week, so free of charge!)

As you may have guessed, I waited for a free succulent in front of the library last week. My friend Hannah and I stood in line for about twenty minutes, wondering how many refreshments we could eat before FUSAB told us to leave. It occurred to us more than once to just ditch the line and buy some succulents at Lowe’s. We persisted, though, and we were glad that we did. The succulents are adorable, and we got to pick out some cute pots — I got a yellow and white ceramic one. I named my little succulent Henrietta, and she is a total gem.

My other succulent entered my life on accident. My dad somehow obtained it this summer while I was out of town. He placed it in his office window, then handed it off to me before I headed back to school. The succulent had shriveled up from too little water and too much sun, and it desperately needed a repotting. She looked rough — her leaves were wilted and brown, and she was folded in on herself, as if she was wincing away from the world. After some tender care (and help from a green-thumbed friend) my succulent opened up her leaves and started to grow. I named her Billie Jean, after queer feminist icon Billie Jean King. I sent a picture of her to my dad today. His response: “Holy cow! Is that real?!”

In addition to my two succulents, Henrietta and Billie Jean, I also have a prickly cactus (technically a clump of three little cactuses) whom I still need to name. He’s kind of the ugly stepchild of the bunch, but I love him. Possible names for him include Dugtrio, Tetra, and The Father, The Son, and The Holy Ghost. Drop me a line if you think of anything better for my prickly cactus.

As it turns out, I’m a pretty good plant mom. (In fact, I’ve acquired three more plants since I started writing this piece.) Stay tuned — hopefully my children will still be alive by next issue.

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