Saturday, February 20, 2016

The Christmas Cactus

I have never had a "green thumb." In fact, I sometimes did so poorly with my house plants that we used to jokingly call them "disposable plants." When I bought the Bridges Inn almost 10 years ago, the house was totally furnished, including house plants.

Among the plants I inherited, was a gigantic Christmas cactus that is now about 70 years old. I was given instructions on when to water it, how much, and also to occasionally give it plant food. In addition to diligently feeding it, one of the secrets is to leave it where it is -- it obviously likes its spot on the east side of the house near a window.

Every year, the Christmas cactus starts blooming in early December and typically stays in bloom through January. Some years, like this year, the cactus stays in bloom longer -- it still has many flowers as I write this on February 20th. The cactus typically blooms again around Easter time, too. It's become an annual tradition to take photos of my two grandchildren at Christmas time when the cactus is in full bloom.

When a branch/piece of the cactus falls off, I replant it. These cactus offspring are thriving in a pot on the second floor, directly above the giant cactus, in the same eastern exposure. Over the years, I have repotted and given away many cactus offspring. Shown below, the offspring have buds.

Brought the offspring downstairs for the photo
Replanted offspring, upstairs
A bud on one of the offspring (2/20/16)
The cactus is a conversation piece and a photo opportunity -- most guests who come here have never seen a Christmas cactus so big. It has not only survived, it has thrived.

1 comment:

  1. I am so glad I stumbled upon this on FB. My family shares a similar and dad have one, and it must be at least fifty years just bloomed at Christmas and was so full and gorgeous. I do not have an offspring, but you have just motivated me to take action and start one from mom and dads. Have you posted care instructions in other posts? My mom's advice on caring for this these many years is the following: "It thrives on neglect, leave it alone and it almost takes care of itself." Can you tell me other than waiting for branches to fall off to re-plant, can I break a branch or two off moms, and then root in water, or just plant in a pot? Thank you, and again, I'm so glad to see this.