Country Living Series

Monday, December 31, 2012

Christmas cactus

I don't "do" houseplants. I have something of a black thumb, so I don't dare keep the dear things around or I'd kill them for sure.

But a happy exception is this Christmas cactus. Thankfully cacti are tolerant of people like me with black thumbs.


The reason this houseplant graces our home is because it belonged -- in a way -- to my grandmother, who passed away in 1979. It's quite a tangible link to the past.


How did this happen? Well, my aunt (who is now in her 80s) took my grandmother's Christmas cactus after my grandmother passed away. (My grandfather died in 1982.) The plant was huge when my aunt took possession of it, but apparently her "thumb" is comparable to mine when it comes to houseplants, and the cactus was suffering.


At any rate, a few years ago my parents went back east to visit my aunt and other relatives. When my mother (whose thumb is staggeringly green) saw my grandmother's Christmas cactus in such distress, she gave my aunt some pointers on how to revive it. She -- my mother -- also nipped a few of the lobes off the cactus and brought them home, where she potted them and sprouted several new plants.

She gave me this one about three years ago. To my pride, I haven't killed it yet.

So there you have it. This humble plant is a link to my beloved grandparents, who left us so many years ago.


Ain't that something?

15 comments:

  1. I bet your Mother didn't tell your Aunt that she snipped a bit. I 'stole' a couple of snips from my Grandmother's Gardenia. I happened to mention to my Aunt (who was living in Grandmother's house at that time) that I had snipped some of the Gardenia. She said, "You never should have told me, now it won't live." And, it didn't. My Aunt's daughter now lives in that house, less than 2 miles from my Country House. But, she's always home! I haven't had the opportunity to snip without anyone seeing me.

    I do have cuttings of Christmas cactus that my Grandmother gave me that lives (barely) & blooms each year even with all the neglect it receives (took a pic of the young blooms last weekend & will post it later).

    Happy New Year Patrice.

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  2. Talk about a beautiful Christmas Cactus, I love the bright pink flowers on her. Happy New Year To You, Don and the Girls.

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  3. My mother grew them also. They are beautiful. I think though, that they are not an actual cactus (or cacti) but a succulent. Whatever they are, they remind me of my mother. Thanks for sharing.

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  4. My husband had one just like that. It got very big and bloomed like crazy. He got it from a favorite(now deceased) Aunt after he was in a terrible motorcycle accident in college. After years of me getting very sick every December, I realized I was allergic to it. Beautiful Christmas cactus had to go! So Sad.

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  5. In spite of living in San Bernardino, a large SoCal city known for it's smoggy skies, my grandmother could grow anything and get it to thrive. After she passed away many of her family took cuttings or potted plants to remember her by. Whatever I took dies, but my aunt now has an 8 foot high rosebush that is BEAUTIFUL that she took as a cutting.

    Thank you for your story.

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  6. (You say you have a black thumb, but 18 pints of garlic are saying otherwise!)

    I like stories about keeping the memories of our ancestors alive.

    Just Me

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  7. They're my only houseplant too. I have the descendants of 'Auntie Betty', a plant named after the great aunt of my mother-in-law. This year the plants are covered in buds, but we've been up in the north of Scotland with my Dad over Christmas and New Year, so they may have bloomed in my absence. Your photos have made me homesick for my plants!
    Happy New Year!

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  8. My late wife had a Christmas cactus for may years in our kitchen window. I still "care" for it and it thrives. Every time I look at it it brings back fond memories of our 57 years together. She was the greatest treasure of my life.

    Hangtown Frank

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  9. I have a black thumb with houseplants, as well.

    Thankfully, as long as I can plant something outside, it will usually be fine.

    In other words, as long as I allow the plant to depend on God rather than on me for its care, it will usually live. LOL! Just kidding... I do water my plants outside. Inside ones, too, but they just don't survive me.

    That Christmas cactus is gorgeous! I don't think I've seen one with such large, exuberant blooms!

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  10. You really should have an aloe plant. They are easy to grow and are useful as well. IMO every prepper should have one.
    http://www.disabled-world.com/artman/publish/aloe-vera.shtml

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  11. My mother has a Christmas Cactus that her great grandmother brought across Nebraska in a covered wagon. It never blooms on Christmas...and sometimes just fakes us out by getting blooms and then dropping them off. Every couple of years it has one or two blooms...usually during Easter.

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  12. My "Christmas" cactus is a "Thanksgiving" cactus. It blooms every year at Thanksgiving, and it's very beautiful.
    Kelly in K'ville, NC

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  13. The EXACT same thing is going on in our family right now. Family memebers didn't realize that I had a plant that came from our grandmothers plant....everyone remembers it sitting in the old house kitchen window. Now that everyone is on Facebook they all want a piece of the plant. Lots of small pots going out at the next family reunion. I love "family" plants.

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  14. The EXACT same thing is going on in our family right now. Family memebers didn't realize that I had a plant that came from our grandmothers plant....everyone remembers it sitting in the old house kitchen window. Now that everyone is on Facebook they all want a piece of the plant. Lots of small pots going out at the next family reunion. I love "family" plants.

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  15. my mom used to have a Christmas cactus, but i started calling it a "Holiday cactus" cause it would bloom every other holiday but not Christmas! they are very beautiful.

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