Monday, December 29, 2008

My holiday companion...

When my grandmother got married and set up her own home back in the early 1900s, she took a cutting of her family's Christmas cactus. She nurtured that plant all of her life and one of the rites of passage as her grandchildren grew up and moved into their own homes was a starter plant from Grandma. My plant has been through several divisions over the years but has been in its current pot for at least 20 years. It now measures 54" from side to side. It thrives on my unheated porch here in the San Francisco area -- getting filtered sun in the summer and sunny days and cool nights in the winter. I tend to it somewhat absent-mindedly, giving it a mild dose of all-purpose fertilizer every time I water it and an annual "bath" to wash off the dust and pollen that collects during the warmer months.

For this, I am rewarded every year with a profusion of blooms starting right around Christmas. This year, the first of the elegant magenta flowers appeared about a week before Christmas and will cover the plant in the next week or so. Blooming will continue for at least a month.

It's a lovely memory of my grandmother.


  1. That's a truly unique gift and memory. Not sure it would have survived me, as I've been blamed for my "black thumb" more than once...

    *** HAPPY 2009 ***

  2. Well, this plant had a couple of close calls. It's pretty tough and, fortunately, seems to thrive on a certain amount of neglect.

  3. My grandmother also kept a Christmas cactus growing in her basement, bringing it out during the winter full of blooms and so beautiful. Me, I can't keep an aloe alive!

  4. Well, as I told Nava, it's a good thing this plant prefers a bit of neglect! They do like long nights and cool temps in the fall -- perfectly provided by the location it's in here. I mostly stay out of the way and let it do whatever it wants to do.

  5. OOOOOOOOOOOOOHHHHHHHHHH! these are so pretty! I love that passing down of the elder's things! This has a painting or three written all over it!

    I must say that do have that growing magic, thing just tend to grow for me, the only thing is that they usually grow at the wrong times! Flowers in winter, tomatoes all year round. Currently I have some roses, irises, violets, hollyhocks in the garden. go figure! it was only 29 degrees the other day!
    Well, I look forward to your new paintngs! Happy New year!

  6. Thanks, Pablo!! Happy New Year to you too!! We have one lonely rose that bloomed two days before Christmas and my geraniums haven't figured out that it's winter yet either. It's a nice bit of cheer when the days are so short.

    To tell the truth, I've thought about painting this incredible plant in the past, but it always seemed like the most daunting task. Maybe this time....

  7. I have on of these also. You almost can't kill them. My original cutting is about 30 years old and it still blooms regularly
    The flowers are so beautiful.


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