Collecting the folklore and uses of plants


1. You should stop watering cacti in September, when there is an R in the month. Don’t water them when there are Rs in the month; I did this to mine and they flowered really well this year. It’s a useful general rule of thumb [Barons Court, London, August 1985].

2. Cacti are considered unlucky inside the house in Hungary. An aunt emigrated to England from Hungary and started a collection of cacti. Her sister came to visit her and was horrified to see the cacti. My aunt assured her that it was only a Hungarian superstition that cacti were unlucky. A few weeks after her visit to England her sister died. My aunt threw out all her plants when she heard the bad news, and she never allows one in the house now [Golders Green, London, May 1982].

Images: main, Jardin Artistico Nacional Huerto Del Cura, Elche, Alicante Province, Spain, April 2023; inset, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, London Borough of Richmond upon Thames; May 2014.