Photos by AJ Tamari

Cactus haven calls Northeast home

Updated: May 30, 2018 - 2:30 pm

Madre Cacti specializes in cultivating a unique collection of the prickly houseplants

While it likely wouldn’t survive long outside, a rare and unique assortment of cactus plants call a small shop in Northeast home.

Erik Hamline is the cultivator and proprietor behind Madre Cacti, a cactus-only plant shop that recently opened at 22nd & 2nd in the Bottineau neighborhood. Hamline sources the plants himself from the southwest United States, bringing them back to Minneapolis where Madre sells the houseplants and works with clients to decorate offices, photo shoots and homes with statement pieces, either to rent or own.

madrecacti-9 web“I think they are inherently so much more interesting and sculpturally aesthetic than normal plant life,” he said. “It’s nice to make these stand out in more of a home goods market.”

Hamline, a professional screen printer by trade, started Madre as an expansion of his own home collection of cacti and houseplants. He didn’t go far, opening the roughly 650-square-foot store in a building he’s operated his printmaking business out of for several years.

Madre is only open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. That gives Hamline time to source the plants, which come from portions of Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.

“It’s a perfect temperate area for growers to plant uninhibitedly. They don’t need a greenhouse. They don’t have to worry about freezing in the winter. The water is about perfect. You can grow things from all over the world there,” he said.

Once home, the plants need little care, especially in the winter when they’re dormant and only need water about every two months. Even in the spring and summer cacti should only be watered every two weeks. Hamline checks each plant to see if they need watering. For those curious about cultivating and collecting their own cacti, the shop carries pots, gloves and potting tools.

Hamline said his plants are different from the cacti you can find in big-box stores, which may offer only a few kinds of cacti and may buy from greenhouses overseas that don’t have sustainable growing practices. So far, customers haven’t decided on a favorite variety of the trendy plants.

madrecacti-4“It’s like a car or a dog… it’s so subjective and so personal,” he said.

Beyond the retail market, Madre offer services like interior landscape design and custom sourcing for homemakers and businesses that want their own personalized cacti garden or a specific plant to adorn the office. The plants are available for rent for photo shoots and events, or even long-term commercial leases for restaurants and studios.

“I am really trying to say ‘yes’ to everything,” he said.

Hamline said a shop or green house hasn’t satisfied this local demand for the indoor plants. Madre, likely the city’s first cactus-specific store, will bring a high-design sense to cacti, he added.

Madre Cacti, at 2201 2nd St. NE, is open 11 a.m.–7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and noon–6 p.m. Sunday. It is open by appointment Monday through Thursday.