A singular piece of Los Angeles arrives in New York on Saturday: Cactus Store, the pint-size Echo Park cult cactus emporium owned by designers turned succulent obsessives Max Martin, Carlos Morera, and Jeff Kaplon. The shop is popping up through November at 5 Essex Street, in a custom-made greenhouse sitting on a lot adjacent to the now-shuttered M. Schames & Son paint shop. The aluminum greenhouse will hold some 400 exotic cacti, along with Japanese gardening tools and a T-shirt printed with a rat sitting on a cholla, designed by Martin and Morera.
Even the most cactus-crazy New Yorkers with succulent-packed windowsills have likely never seen this kind of inventory — or met such real-deal cactus collectors before. (Or even had a cactus-dedicated store to begin with.) The 1,500-or-so plants that made the trip to Chinatown were primarily grown in Southern California by long-time collectors — locals with at-home greenhouses and larger cactus farms — the names of which Martin won’t disclose. (“That information can be a bit … sensitive,” he says). Several of Martin and Morera’s plants come from a private, half-a-century-old collection they bought from a local plumber who passed away a couple years back. It includes Gymnocalycium collected in the fields of Argentina in the 1960s ($75) and a centuries-old Copiapoa cinerea ($1,200) from the Atacama Desert in Chile. Morera — known around Echo Park as “The Cactus Guy” — points to some other notable collector’s items: Euphorbia canariensis (from $60), which are endemic to the Canary Islands; and a Welwitschia from Angola ($190), which Martin describes as two leaves growing into a tangled, curly pile. Also for sale: cacti with a mutation that makes them swirl around themselves ($340), spineless cacti (from $255), and cacti with a pigmentation disorder that turns their flesh different colors. One of his favorites (which isn’t for sale) is the Aztekium ritteri, one of the slowest-growing plants on earth, whose juveniles are the size of a Tic Tac. “We have one the size of a golf ball,” Martin says. “So you can only imagine the age on that.”
And if you can't make it to Essex Street ...
This is some of our favorite potting soil — for both cacti and non-cacti alike.
This Japanese Hori Hori knife has almost 800 five-star reviews on Amazon, and is a super-versatile serrated tool that can be used for digging and cutting.
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