Scott Adam and I are standing in Fractal Cactus, his newly opened plant store, which specializes in cacti, succulents, and air plants. The shop is cozy and practically overflowing with fun things to look at. Statuettes are scattered around the store, air plants hang from the ceilings in planters that make their spindly arms look like jellyfish tentacles, and every succulent you have never heard of is crowded onto the many tables in the small space. There is even a collection of art hung near the front of the store. Fractal Cactus is warm without being stifling. It is full without being overwhelming. It almost feels like its own tiny ecosystem, which is an aesthetic Adam spent years perfecting.
“When I worked at Quality Bicycle Products, there was this artist hallway, and every winter I got it just for my own. It was usually around February and I made a succulent, cactus, air plant jungle. The jungle was a really good respite for people who were cringing at the winter.”
I never got the chance to see the 10’ x 30’ art installation of a jungle that was Adam’s specialty, but Fractal Cactus is that idea of a plant-laden respite taken to its most logical extreme. I left Fractal Cactus with an extra bounce in my step. Maybe it was the plants. Maybe it was the carefully curated art collection. Maybe it was Adam. Wherever that bounce came from, Fractal Cactus was at its heart. Rather than the month-long respite he once curated, though, this one is available year-round.
Being a plant store, Fractal Cactus is obviously filled with a lot of natural beauty, but Adam takes it one step further, offering his customers an additional kind of beauty. Local art curator Bryn Larson of OXHEART, heard about Fractal Cactus, “fell in love, and said, ‘Let me have two walls.’” The current plan is to have a rotating selection of local art, usually “one artist per wall”, but the first installation featured ten paintings all by the same artist. This ongoing relationship with OXHEART also means that Fractal Cactus will host the occasional party whenever a new collection hits its walls.
If your interest in Fractal Cactus only goes as far as the plants, worry not, there are events for you, too. Every Saturday at 2 p.m. through the end of February, Adam will be hosting free classes to learn the basics of taking care of cacti and succulents. “They’re pretty informal, pretty quick,” Adam says. “You’ll get a sense of what the hard rules are and how to figure out where you’re at with a particular plant. It’s not really about a convenient human schedule. It’s about living in the present.”
Classes are in held in the back of the store where you will find a table set up with the largest bowl of dirt that I have ever seen (fondly nicknamed “the sandbox”) and a stunning array of succulents and cacti that are just waiting to go home with you. Adam’s relaxed demeanor and helpful tips will empower you to care for these little treasures – and maybe even yourself. His practical advice is often couched in almost philosophical maxims, emphasizing the arguably symbiotic relationship between people and the plants they care for. “Taking care of plants—especially cacti and succulents—is not just easy, it’s probably good for you,” Adam says. “It’s good to tend to something, to care for it.”
For those of you who need something a little more complex than a 101 level class, keep your eye out for upcoming offerings. Adam will offer a small roster of paid classes as well, including a class on staghorn fern mounting, which is a particular passion of his. Check out the free intro classes while they are still available and keep an eye out for more.
Since Fractal Cactus is pretty much brand new, your best bet for more information is Instagram (@fractal_cactus) or Facebook (Fractal Cactus MPLS). I would suggest you just mosey straight to the shop, though. From its bite-sized jungle aesthetic to the fun art on the walls to Scott Adam himself, Fractal Cactus might just mitigate your winter blues and turn you into a plant magician.
Fractal Cactus is open Wednesday-Friday from 1-7 p.m. and weekends from 12-6 p.m. Nestled comfortably in Longfellow along the Minnehaha Mile, it is easily accessible for St. Paul and Minneapolis folx alike. Check it out!
3750 Minnehaha Ave.