Anyone who reads Home Fixated regularly will know that thorny plants generally aren’t my cup of tea, soda, or coffee. Even so, there’s absolutely no reason you shouldn’t add them to your yard if they strike your fancy. Perhaps I have even been unfairly maligning these poor plants due to bad memories from childhood of digging holly out of my feet and the more recent encounters with citrus trees that have taken weeks to heal up. However, most thorny plants don’t randomly shed sharp pieces, so as long as you’re careful when you toss out the trimmings, you should be perfectly fine. (Holly is the one exception to this rule since it drops pointy leaves everywhere in the fall. I personally would avoid it at all costs).
A Pointed Argument For Thorny Species
Citrus trees, raspberries, blackberries, roses, bougainvillea, cacti, and a wide variety of other plants often come complete with thorns. In some instances where fruits are concerned, thorn-less versions do actually exist but they aren’t always as readily available on the market as the more dangerous types.
For example, the local garden centers in my hometown have been selling citrus plants for as long as I can remember but it was only last year that I was able to find some without thorns. For years, I’ve had the choice of either having a thorn free variety shipped to me at an extremely high price or getting the $15 one with thorns from Ace Hardware. It was a simple monetary decision. However, if your family members like to run around barefoot or you have pets, I’d still opt for using the thorn-less fruit varieties if you can manage to get them locally at a reasonable price.
Having fresh fruit is the main factor in why I personally choose to have a few pointy plants in my yard, despite my obvious distaste for them. Ease of care is another big factor as to why I allow these sharp plants some space (uh, in my garden, that is). Succulents and cacti mostly come from arid places so they don’t need a lot of moisture. This is particularly important during the summer when realizing I don’t have to water all the plants causes me to dance with glee and it’s also great during the winter since my houseplants often tend to get overlooked in all the holiday chaos.
While I don’t find the thorns a selling factor per se, cacti and other plants with sharp-edged leaves can even be planted around the exterior perimeter of a yard to effectively discourage neighborhood dogs from wandering too far into your area, particularly if they’re otherwise not being supervised by their human owners. Although needing to do this brings up some serious topics on responsible pet ownership, why not simply set out a line of defense against those pesky invaders before they run amok and pee (or worse) in your vegetable patch?
How to Avoid Becoming a Bloody Mess
Fear not! This can actually be accomplished! However, you can and should use gloves when working with these plants. I still haven’t gotten a pair because I haven’t found any that would fit me that aren’t designed for kids and I got past the Dora the Explorer stage more years ago than I’ll ever admit in public. Eventually, I’m going to end up with some hot pink, juvenile design but I’m avoiding the inevitability as long as possible. In a pinch, though, I have found that layers of washcloths make handy covers for moving small cacti around.
You’ll want to plant in-ground specimens in low traffic areas so that members of your household are not likely to encounter them in a painful fashion. Keep in mind that citrus trees that are being grown in the yard rather than in containers can get really large, so be sure that there is room for them to spread out. Bramble fruits also need a great deal of space. While they can be trained to form rows, they tend to sprawl out everywhere if left in their natural state. In either case, you probably want to put these plants far away from spots where your kids or pets tend to play on a regular basis. After all, holding either of them still long enough to extract thorns is never a fun experience for anyone involved.
Stay sharp and happy gardening!