When I recently visited the Jardin Majorelle in Marrakesh, which has the most beautiful cactuses surrounding the house of the French painter Jacques Majorelle, I wanted to find out more about these incredible plants which look like art objects and have also many beneficial aspects. German botanist Hans Thiemann opened a business a long time ago in Marrakesh to cultivate this plant and exports it all over the world. The Jardin Majorelle was also a favourite place of Yves Saint Laurent. Here he found inspiration for his new collection and admired the many cactus plants which have the perfect soil to grow and get giant.
The cactus is a trend right now – Cartier designed a Cactus collection with magnificent rings. Cactus vases, cushions, artwork etc. are everywhere and next time you are in Marrakesh bring a cactus back home.
IRMA: What sparked the idea to open a cactus farm?
ROSALINDE THIEMANN: In our family we are the third generation of cactus producers. Everything started with my great-grandparents in Germany (Bremen) around 1889. It became a family passion! My father Hans Thiemann developed the business for the international market. After a while, Hans Thiemann was tired of the greenhouses and wanted to travel the world to find new species and a new place not too far from Europe to keep the business and where the cacti can grow up like in there native place. That’s why in 1964 he setteled down in Marrakech.
IRMA: What is the most incredible thing about a cactus?
ROSALINDE THIEMANN: The most incredible thing is how amazing and beautiful the cacti flowers are.
IRMA: Please educate me: people come to your farm, choose a cactus, buy it and bring it home? Is that about right?
ROSALINDE THIEMANN: Yes, our first activity is selling cacti. Our mostly private clients come choose a cactus and we do the transplantation in there garden. And starting from October 2017 we will open a part of the plantation to the public.
IRMA: What is the oldest cactus you have? How much does it cost?
ROSALINDE THIEMANN: Our oldest cactus is a Pachycereus Pringlei. It is 75 years old and 8 meters high. This one is not for sale! We keep it for our private collection.
IRMA: What is a cactus bestseller, and why?
ROSALINDE THIEMANN: There are two bestsellers: Neoraimondia Herzogiana and Pachycereus Pringlei.
Because these are the most known cacti and their form reminds people of the western movies.
IRMA: Do you grow edible cacti as well?
ROSALINDE THIEMANN: Yes, we have some edible cactus, too, for example the “Opuntia ficus Indica. You can eat the fruit and the leaves.
IRMA: What is a common mistake people make when taking care of a cactus?
ROSALINDE THIEMANN: The most common mistake is giving them too much water. People think that they are doing good and that the cactus will grow faster, but no, it will just kill it! A cactus needs regulary water but not offen. And full sun is very important!
IRMA: Why do you think the cactus became such a trendy design form/symbol lately? I see cactus flower vases, cactus greeting cards and muffins, to name only a few ..
ROSALINDE THIEMANN: I really don’t know! It’s just a trend…