Saturday, November 5, 2022

The Thanksgiving Cactus

Steve  showed a picture of his Christmas cactus and commented that it should be called a Thanksgiving cactus, given the timing of its blooms. It made me laugh because:   

Mine is happily blooming as well. 


My "Christmas cactus" has always been called a Christmas cactus, as long as I can remember. It was my great grandmother's for many years, and then it went to my grandmother.   It stayed in her southern  window for many years. When my grandmother died, my father got the house, The 'Christmas cactus' stayed put in its self same southern window for several more years. My dad has been gone for over 20 years now. My mother for 11. Now I have the cactus. 

The first year I had it, I thought "Kind of early for a Christmas cactus to bloom, innit?" 

Except: 

See those spikey protuberances, Steve? Like me, you actually do have a Thanksgiving cactus. I have to admit that I knew nothing at all about an Easter cactus. 

My plant looks rather small for a 50 + year old cactus, doesn't it? It is because I nearly killed it two summers ago. I tried to nurse it back to health, but there was no saving it. I set it aside to be thrown out, meaning to save the pot. When I got around to it, I discovered beneath it, one lonely green bract. I barely dared to hope, but I brought the pot back in, leaving that tiny little plant right there in that huge pot. I didn't want to risk killing it by replanting it in a smaller pot and possibly disturbing the roots. It looked pretty goofy for a long time, that tiny little nubbin all by itself in a huge pot. 

I am happy to say that the old cactus is thriving once again. I think it actually looks much nicer started over again without the woody thickness that all old cacti seem to get.

(My way of saying, "I meant to do that.")

It's interesting reading all the exacting complicated instructions to make it bloom.  total darkness vs light, temperature, humidity. I've never done a thing with it. It's thrived for fifty years on being ignored. What killed it? I read about people taking theirs outside for the summer. I changed things up. I will never do that again. Some things are best left to bloom where they are planted. 

34 comments:

  1. Hmmm... Mom has a Christmas cactus but I'm never sure when it's going to bloom. It could very well be because in Hawaii the seasons don't change much. Granted, I did transplant it so I hope I didn't traumatize it. It stays outside all year long.

    Wait a minute. Last year it bloomed after Christmas. Maybe it IS an Easter cactus. We shall see. :-)

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    1. The fact that you live in a tropical climate might have something to do with it. THe fact that yours stay outside all year around is amazing. I forgot what that was like.

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  2. I used to have one of those in our old house. It also used to bloom around now. When it got too woody I would gently break off a piece and pop into a small pot of compost to get a new baby plant. I ended up with far too many. None of them made the move here with us last year.

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    1. Easy enough to do. I'm a bit overrun right now with baby plants, and I'm not sure what to do with them. My aloe vera is monstrous.

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  3. I have never been able to keep one of those alive. My mother had the green thumb with them, while I had the kiss of death. Same with angel wing begonia, all of mum's thriving plants came from a cutting off mine which then died.

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    1. cripes. I've got angel wing begonias in a pot and in a glass. I can't stop them from taking over!

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  4. I always think of them as Christmas cacti, have a soft spot for them as well as African violets.

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    1. I love African violets but have no luck with them. Not sure why that is.

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  5. It's great to see plants blooming at this time of year.

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    1. That's why I love my cyclamen and this cactus.

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  6. My mom had one of those for many many years, perhaps inherited from my grandmother. After mom died, I'm not sure what happened to it. Many of her plants were given away to those who wanted one and I took the rest home with me and I don't think I ended up with it. So hopefully someone is enjoying the blooms right now because it always bloomed around this time of year.

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    1. If you ever figure out where it went, they are very easy to propagate.

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  7. Raising cacti is a bit of a prickly proposition.

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  8. Can I join your Holiday Cactus Club? I bought one of these 25 years ago around Christmas time from my local hardware store and it's sat in my various windows (different apts) ever since. It's never grown too big, but I water it once a month and it looks as new as the day I got it. Mine should be blooming any day now :^)

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    1. LOL. There's a lot of ignored cacti out there

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  9. My Christmas cactus is blooming now too. They also don't like a change in location . I got my cactus from my vice principal in about 1980. I had it in the school until 1997. I then almost killed it like yours. It's come back to life and is doing well.

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    1. I felt so badly about mine. My sister thought I was stupid...all those clippings out there...Everybody in the family has a Christmas Cactus from that plant.

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  10. My cactus ( the parent of the white/very pale pink cutting that I gave Steve !) is covered in buds at the moment. I just looked at the shape of the leaves and it is closest to a Xmas cactus. It sits on an east facing windowsill and occasionally gets some water. It has been there for years!

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    1. They are the Greta Garbo of plants....they want to be alone!

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  11. My 'Christmas Cactus' like yours is starting to break into bloom, I inherited mine from my Granny who died in 1986. It lives on top of the fridge freezer, gets watered when I remember and occasionally a top dressing of compost.

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    1. I water mine every week or two. Once every couple months, I water with Miracle Gro.

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  12. Yes! I learned this several years ago from blogland. I wasn't kidding about it being a Thanksgiving cactus! It really is a different variety. (I think I actually joked that it could be called a Halloween cactus, because it's blooming well ahead of Thanksgiving!)

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    1. I figured it out the first year I had it that there were two different species, but honestly, I never heard of an 'Easter Cactus' before. Unless I did...but forgot...

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  13. My Granny had a large Christman Cactus that bloomed every year between November and January, staying in blooms almost three months. As we granddaughters got older and married, she broke of a piece of it and put it in water and started a new plant. We always called it Granny's plant. I ended up with her plant when she passed away and continued giving slips of ot away. After my husband passed away, I let a lot of his plants die from neglect and that one died. My cousins still have Granny's plant in their homes. A beautiful bloom.

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    1. The Christmas after my mother died, my sister made a history of our family, and we separated the pictures into boxes. They each got an Christmas ornament in their box of pictures, and a clipping from that old Christmas cactus.

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  14. I have a thanksgiving cactus as well, courtesy of my mum. They do well with neglect:)

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  15. My father had a cactus handed down for generations. It was a Christmas Cactus. It lived on our enclosed front porch and came in to bloom at Christmas. One year he forgot it. It froze solid. He cried. But it was mush.

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    1. Funny thing was that my 'dead' cactus was hauled out to the unheated porch. When I got around to throwing the dead plant away, there it was...one lone little green nub. Totally unexpected. Did you find curtains?

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  16. Hi Debby, my dad took cuttings from his mother’s Christmas cactus and had it as a stock plant in his greenhouse. He took more cuttings of it every year to sell. It was a beautiful monster of a plant with hot pink flowers. I’m sure the main plant continued for 60 years!
    Bonnie in Minneapolis

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  17. A bit like our Christmas rose that blooms midyear for us, aka Hellebores.

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  18. That is such a very cool story Bonnie! This plant provided many 'starts' very the year as well. The gift that keeps on giving!

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