It's almost time to commit cacticide again.
Among the plants on the old library table in my kitchen are a Christmas cactus and a Thanksgiving cactus. Well, supposedly it's a Thanksgiving cactus, but this past year it bloomed around Halloween and then again at Easter, so it appears to be a bit conflicted in its religious beliefs.
Both plants are thriving, to the point of getting too big for their pots. It's time to either repot them, trim them back severely, or consider even more drastic measures.
I've gone the repotting route before, and I know where it leads. First the plant outgrows a nice middle-sized pot, then a big one, and the next thing you know it's firmly established in a container the size of a coffee table that is too heavy to move. It's having illicit pot parties in the living room and you're too intimidated to say anything.
The last time that happened with the Christmas cactus, I finally took drastic action. I clipped off eight or ten substantial cuttings, started a new plant in a medium-sized pot, and after it was well established I lugged the old plant out onto the deck.
In January. A couple of days later we had a blizzard, and there the poor thing sat, the wind making its frozen fingers scratch against the glass door as if it were pleading to be taken back in. I felt like a murderer. It reminded me of the stories about Eskimos leaving old people out on the ice to die.
Especially because that plant was so old. It had been part of my life for nearly 40 years, and part of the family for much longer. My plant was a gift from my mother when I moved into my first house. It started from cuttings from my grandmother's Christmas cactus. Hers bloomed magnificently every year and had grown into a majestic presence, its gnarled thick stalks growing out of a square wooden pot custom-made for it by my uncle. Grandma's plant, in turn, had come from one belonging to her cousin Minnie, which might well have begun with a gift of cuttings to her mother as early as about 1900.
So cutting back my Christmas cactus or restarting it isn't something to be done lightly. It has a venerable and honorable heritage. Of course, it has a promising future as well. The one I started from it for my daughter is flourishing in her living room.
If I do start a new plant and discard the older part of mine, it really wouldn't be cacticide. It's more like reincarnation.
No wonder the Thanksgiving cactus is so confused.