Pot Problems

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.

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Categories: Family | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “Pot Problems

  1. Ginny

    I love flowers, but have never had a ‘place’ in my houses for live house plants. But I do have flower pots which belonged to my grandmother. In her living room, there was a little alcove with a sort of window seat,and under the big window, grandma kept a lot of house plants. Off to one side was an oleander vine which grew all up the side, over the top and down the other side of the alcove. The house, bay window and all has been gone for many years, but I still have some of the flower pots, which I inheirited from my mother. They are, I’m sure, nearly as old as I am, which is considerably ancient. I have filled them with artificial flowers and set them out on our deck. But since I worry about maybe a hail storm breaking my old pots, they spend most of the time tucked safely away under the wooden deck table and chairs. Some of them have ’37 cents’ marked on them; the price my grandmother paid for them back when’ Heck was a pup’. Now that’s a statement one doesn’t hear much any more, and dates me as well as the pots. Ginny

  2. Kathleen

    I remember that bay window.It stuck out on the outside of the house so there was a space below it just right for a small child to fit under. (At least I think we’re talking about the same window.)

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