I can’t go anywhere lately without seeing little succulent plants? Who decided those are the next big thing?

Before we get to that, doesn’t it seem weird that you can still find a printed prime time TV show listing in the newspaper? It takes up about 1/2 page in the Arizona Republic every day, so someone must be reading it, but I’ve yet to find anyone. My next door neighbor gets the old-school newspaper thrown on her driveway every morning, but I have a hard time thinking of her sitting down with her morning coffee, leafing through inky pages and saying, “OK, let’s see when ‘River Monsters’ is on tonight.”

Back to the question. You can’t go anywhere? Really? Come on, now.

But I get it.

“Succulent” makes me think of a juicy steak or a sweet mango, but in this case it mostly means a plant that has thicker, more fleshly parts that are designed to retain moisture. It’s something like you might do if you were, say, taking a hilly walk through some of the mountain parks we have here in the Valley on a blistering hot day. You’d pack extra water anywhere you could if you were smart. Since a lot of people don’t think they need extra water in baking desert heat, we can assume that plants are, on average, a little smarter than people.

In places like the Desert Botanical Gardens in Phoenix, which is a wonderful spot to walk around pretty much any day of the year, you’ll see lots of succulents and lots of cactus. Are they the same thing? Don’t think so. It seems all cacti are succulents, but not all succulents are cacti. A cactus usually, but not always, has thorns and bristles to protect themselves, and succulents generally do not. Some cacti are covered with what looks like white hair. Have you seen one of those? Super cool.

An aloe plant is a succulent that kind of looks like a cactus. Firesticks are popular succulents these days. They’re part of the euphorbia family, look a bit like a green tumbleweed, their ends turn orange and red, and they’re easy to grow. An African milk tree is an elegant little guy. And a royal spurge almost looks like a tropical plant with big, luscious green leaves, but it actually loves hot, dry weather and needs little water.

As to your question, a few things are possible. Maybe people just like feeling fashionable, and when they see Neighbor Betty placing cute little cactus-y things around the house, they rush to the nearest plant nursery so they don’t get left behind. No one wants to be a dork.

Or they could be looking at their water bills rising each month and think, “Maybe not dumping thousands of gallons of water on my periwinkles would be a good idea. I could use a few low water plants.”

On the other hand, there very well might be a secret robot army putting thoughts into our head about what is the Next Big Thing. This year, it’s succulents. Next year they might make smoking cool again, or have us all get excited about a sport like Irish hurling, which I’m told is a very big thing in Dublin.

By the way, ‘Cash Cab’ is on at 8 pm tonight.