Basking in the sunlight of a south facing window at my in-law's home is an enormous Christmas cactus that is in bloom with beautiful pink blossoms this time of year. It is a special plant to our family because it belonged to my 70 year old father-in-law's grandmother, and has been passed down from one generation to the next. We only have theories on how old it is, but our best estimate is that this cactus is probably at least 125 years old.
If this cactus sprouted to life in the late 1800's, just think about all that this cactus could have witnessed in the various homes to which it belonged. The bustling family life of each progressive generation and many great events in the history of our nation.
It is an important reminder that with a little proper care, a living heirloom can pass from one generation to the next, giving the newest generation an active part in being able to care for and pass along something to their great grandchildren. It is a unique example of preservation and a gift that truly takes a lifetime to give.
Who will get this cactus in our family? Not really sure, but I do know somebody in the family that can grow plants.
There are also different members of the family. Here is how to identify them and the times that they typically bloom:
How to care for a Holiday Cactus:
1. Bright Indirect Sunlight - keep your Christmas Cactus in a bright spot in your house, such as a living room with south facing windows. It should not however, be sitting directly in the sun.
2. Room Temperatures around 65-75 degrees. A consistent room temperature during the day, but slightly cooler temperatures at night will help initiate blooming.
3. Watering - Do not over-water, Do not under-water. Great advice right? Feel the soil before watering. If it feels dry, time to water. Give it a little water at a time to soak up and be evenly moist. Too much water will cause spots and make the roots rot. It is a tropical cactus, not a desert cactus however, too much water will do damage.
During the fall and winter months it should be watered less to promote blooming. Watch for buds dropping off during this time. Buds dropping off is usually an indication of too much water.
4. Fertilize - Fertilize your Christmas Cactus about 4 times a year. Our Beat Your Neighbor fertilizer is perfect for them. Stop fertilizing about a month before the buds appear (around October.)