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Crazy about Christmas cactus plants

November 8, 2012
By Stephanie Bethke-DeJaeghere , Marshall Independent

The end of summer and the beginning of winter signals a time for me to start bringing in my plants from the garage for the winter. Oh yes, my more tender houseplants have been moved inside quite some time ago, but I have had the fortunate gift of being gifted many Christmas cactus plants. These are tough plants and have survived many years under my own hands and, some, the hands of many others.

You see, my smaller Christmas cactus plants are full of buds and are just about ready to bloom. I have them all lined up so we can enjoy their colors this early winter. There are two that remain in the garage yet. It is not that there is something wrong with them; in fact, they are both so old that they have lived longer on this planet than I have.

I have one that was split into three parts, one part given to me. This cactus plant is well over 60 years old. It has lived through so many changes in this world that it is almost staggering to think about it. The other is nearly as old; we believe it is about 50 years old. It, too, has also seen a lot and probably heard even more since at one time it was the longtime resident in a nursing home.

These two plants are my pride and glory, more so because of their long lived age. However, it is probably to my own downfall that neither of them since they were given to me have bloomed much, if at all. I have tried all of the tricks in the books and some that should probably be left there. They still have not bloomed.

While each plant was in its own place, I know for a fact that they bloomed and bloomed and bloomed. It is enough to give me a complex. The other smaller ones I have do very well each year and in a year like this one, they will bloom again around March or April. So, this year, I have them sitting a little bit longer out in the cooler garage to see what happens. This makes me nervous that I might forget about them one night and they will be gone. This also makes my husband nervous since he also understands that they are more valuable because who gave them to me and their age, more so then whether or not they bloom.

I have to admit that I am pushing it with them because I have seen them bloom and they are just wonderful. The boys say they look like they have colored stars on the ends of their leaves. I just enjoy the colors at a time when outside doesn't have as much color in Mother Nature's palette to offer.

I have to admit at this time it doesn't look good that this year will be the year that they will flower for me. I do love a challenge though. And I do love to have these kinds of houseplants just because they are so easy to care for and they are easy to get attached to when they are what they are.

I know that many of my gardening friends also have Christmas cactuses that are blooming for them now. I know that much of this is because of the growing conditions that we experience each year. I just can't help tinkering with Mother Nature, just a bit to see what I can do.

For more information about gardening, you can email me at



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