Monday, January 07, 2008

Tickled Pink

This Christmas Cactus dates back to the Pleistocene period of mankind.
Well, not quite. But, pretty damn close! Mom gave it to me when I was in college.

Even then I wanted to fill my windows with beautiful flowering plants.

So, she sent me back to the dorm with a cutting off her own cactus and a few bare bones instructions.

It thrives, she said, on a little bit of water and a consistent dose of neglect.

She wasn't kidding.

That first year all it drank was beer. (Hey, I was a dumb college kid!) Later on, it developed a habit for Diet Coke.

These days, it's all pumped up on antioxidants and green tea. Basically, I water the poor gal with whatever liquid is left in my cup. :)

She put on her prettiest show ever after surviving 6 weeks in a cold, dark storage unit when I first moved here. (I think she had a new lease on life after that episode.)

She'll bloom in a cold, north window. And, just as happily in a hot, south window.

Sometimes she blooms for Easter. Other times, she'll bloom in summer.

The one thing she has NEVER done is bloom for Christmas. And, that's okay. I figure, when you get to be this old, you should be allowed to do whatever you damn well please.

~ Control bloom times with periods of darkness.
~ Cool, night temps and a little plant food can inspire these gals to flower every few months.
~ She's very fussy about being touched or moved, while blooming.
~ Notice the sections of her leaves? Trim back using these as a guide.
~ Allow soil to thoroughly dry between waterings.

The parent of this pretty Christmas Cactus was in our home before I was born. Which makes us both at least... 29.

Update: Becky's right. These plants have a mind of their own. The one Mom gave me is a tough old bird. Some newer varieties and especially younger plants thrive with consistent water and tender loving care. This pretty peach cactus died a terrible death last spring because I was too lazy to water it. :(


Iron Needles said...

I could swear that mine bloom better when I keep them moist. The one that dries out regularly doesn't bloom as much. Go figure. I believe they each have their own distinct personality with their own likes and dislikes. I have had to learn on my own, as my mother never had Christmas cactus (or Thanksgiving cactus, as mine were, this year!) Love your colors. -Becky

Gail said...

Happy New Year Kate. Love your Christmas cactus, sure wish mine looked so nice.
Hope you get to feeling better about the new year soon.

thismngardener said...

Yes-I was just informed that withholding water for 2 weeks and putting in a cool dark place would get it to bloom again. So trying this with a small one that I bought last year. Hmm-we'll see!