A CHRISTMAS CACTUS GIFT

snow of 12/22/13

Four inches of snow fell at our farm last night atop the inch of sleet that had accumulated throughout the evening.  I’d be in a panic if I didn’t already have my Christmas shopping completed.  But let’s say I didn’t.  What could I do?  I could bake more cookies and breads, but isn’t everyone already stuffed with Christmas treats?  Besides, I’m getting a little low on eggs…

What about a start from one of my favorite houseplants, the Christmas cactus?  For the last couple of weeks it has been brightening my office and spirits with beautiful pink flowers. I consider the Christmas cactus to be easy to grow because it tolerates me and my unintentional sloppy care.  Although the word “cactus” implies that the plant needs little water, that’s not true in this case.  The Christmas cactus originates from Brazil and needs moderate watering and good drainage.  Mine sits in front of a west window but is shielded from the intense sun by blinds.  The hours of daylight stimulate its blooming. In the fall, when the days become shorter and the evenings cooler the plant sets on blooms.  My cactus usually sets blooms on its sunny side first and then I turn it around so the other side receives the sun to set blooms.  The flowers seem to be very sensitive to drafts and how much water it receives.  They will fall if it’s too drafty or they receive too much or too little water.  Previously, my cactus has bloomed well into February.  I don’t want to jinx it, so I won’t say that it will this year, too—not that I’m superstitious, of course.

Xmas Cactus 2013

My Christmas cactus is special to me because it’s an heirloom. The “parent plant” came from my grandmother, who died before I had a chance to know her.  A Christmas cactus, or any plant, is a great way to keep a living connection with loved ones and the past. And if you give one as a gift, don’t be shy about telling why that plant is special to you.  It will make your gift all the more special to the loved one who receives it.                                                               Merry Christmas!

Xmas Cactus Bloom

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8 thoughts on “A CHRISTMAS CACTUS GIFT

  1. Hey Terry, just found your blog after reading your Christmas letter! Your Christmas cactus is quite healthy looking (of course!). You take wonderful pictures. I will thoroughly enjoy reading all of your past blogs.

    Paula

  2. I am enjoying my Christmas cactus as well and sometimes it blooms again in time for Easter! It belonged to my mother so hold a special place in my houseplant “garden”.

  3. I followed the link from Upper Room and found your blog! I’ve also learned why my Christmas Cactus looks so pitiful…I thought it was an outdoor plant! So, I’ve already learned something today..

    Thank you, Ann

  4. Terry did you know they’re also Thanksgiving cactus. They bloom at different times and also the leaves are larger. Some get the plants confused. Yours is the Christmas Cactus.
    Kay

  5. Hi Kay,
    I need to look into a Thanksgiving cactus and give it a try. My Christmas cactus is still blooming. I’m thinking if I had a Thanksgiving cactus, between the two plants I might enjoy blooms for six months.

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