Thursday, April 1, 2010
When I lived in Iowa, my ex and I had an old house on a small farm at the edge of a tiny little village. Everyone knew each other and we were the newcomers. But we made friends and among those friends were the elderly couple who had owned and lived in our house before us.
I learned about a month ago that Marie had just passed away and as a tribute to her, I must tell the story of where I got this beautiful plant and learned how to grow the beautiful Easter Cactus (Zygocactus), because she really had "the touch."
It was over 10 years ago that she asked me to repot a huge cactus for her that she had been growing for I don't know how long. It was a tough job because it was a large, heavy, hanging plant and this type of plant is quite brittle and bits break off very easily. I succeeded and kept a few of the broken bits, potting them up for myself. The past few years, this remnant of her big plant has finally gained the maturity it apparently needed to REALLY start to bloom.
The past few months, it bloomed for Christmas and now, it's blooming again for Easter--how lucky am I!? And the flowers really are just the brightest, sweetest pink....it always makes me smile.
But the secret, according to Marie, that I've been practicing now for some years, is to put these plants outdoors for a couple of months, during high summer, in a shaded place. I think the extra light helps "rev" them up to grow big and strong to really send out the flower buds. In nature, these are jungle plants that grow under the canopy of larger trees, so lots of direct sun is deadly for them...but bright light in bright shade is a good thing especially when coupled with regular water and fertilizer during this time as they build up their "reserves."
The rest of the year, they live in my house in an east facing window where they are exposed to nice, bright morning light but are also protected from strong, direct sun/ And where they do get some water about once a week.
So best wishes to all for a happy and blessed Easter...and Marie? Here's to your wonderful memory and I'm pleased and proud that a little piece of you lives on here in my life!!
See Wikipedia to learn more about the "Holiday Cactus", it's history and cultivation.