Love Succulents? Take in a Sea of Cacti at the Nation's Largest Cactus Convention
Known to residents of Los Angeles as the Cactus and Succulent Show, avid gardeners, farmers, and horticulturalists attend the event to showcase thousands of unique specimens that you can't find anywhere else.
As many succulent lovers will tell you, simply one isn't enough—which is why vendors and diehard fans alike converged on Los Angeles last weekend to see rare succulents and exotic cacti that were grown around the Southwest region. While it's officially known as the Inter-City Cactus & Succulent Show and Sale, the Los Angeles Times calls this cactus and succulent convention the "Comic-Con of the cactus world," and reports that avid fans traveled far and wide to partake in what is now known as the country's largest celebration of these hardy, minuscule desert flora.
According to the Times, the event is focused on admiring the beauty of meticulously cultivated dish gardens, thorny and bulbous cacti, and flourishing aloe-like succulents. Visitors are able to shop for smaller varieties and succulent starter kits from more than 20 vendors in attendance, but the real draw of the event is the 1,500 different exhibits on display at the Los Angeles Arboretum. Local horticulturalists who have spent years cultivating their cacti set up shop to let other ardent succulent fans admire their work. Kal Kaminer, the event's chairman, told the Times that experts tackled different aspects of raising rare desert flora: In his case, his exhibition was about grafting one type of cactus onto the body of another variety, creating "mutant" varieties that you wouldn't find at a local garden center.
By the end of the weekend, upwards of 2,500 visitors had spent time ogling cacti and succulents inside the event, which is 20 percent more people than last year, according to the Times. The event, which is sponsored by the Los Angeles Cactus & Succulent Society, the San Gabriel Valley Cactus & Succulent Society, as well as the Long Beach Cactus Club, is free to the public. Kaminer says that small crowds of seniors and niche garden fans have given way to hordes of millennials who have become infatuated with growing succulents in their unique spaces.
Many of those in attendance were hoping to learn the basics of raising a cactus at home; Kaminer says experts share general tips, including tidbits about finding the proper soil to fully drain and leave conditions dry, which most succulents need to successfully thrive indoors. The biggest cactus killer is overwatering, and it's best to mix pumice with succulent soils to improve drainage, Kaminer says.
But his most important lesson for those in attendance was to share that the rarest, most beautiful cacti and succulents take many years (and patience!) to grow; if it grows quickly, you're likely to find the same variety at a large retail nursery, making it less valuable overall.