New Year’s Cactus?
I have a “Christmas Cactus” that has grown wild inside my apartment. In 2020 it bloomed in early November (deeming it a Thanksgiving Cactus), and in 2021 it did not give me even one blossom. A friend with a green thumb gave it to me in October of 2020. A friend of hers gave it to her years before after having grown it herself for many years. That makes me a third-generation guardian of this plant.
This plant’s leaves are long green projectiles that grow out of each other, extending into space like stacking chairs or Russian stacking dolls. Each section of each green projectile is shaped like an oval with tiny spikes along the edges. One long vein runs through the center. At the end of this modified oval, another new oval precisely the same size grows. It reminded me of the newspaper trees I used to make years ago. I’d roll up newspaper pages, then flatten the roll. I’d cut the top with four cuts, then pull it up and out from the center top — creating a tall trunk with flopping newspaper leaves all the same size.
When these cactus plants bloom, instead of a new leaf extension, a tiny bud appears at the end of the central vein and opens into a flower of brilliant pink over several days. Until yesterday, I had failed because she (the plant) refused to give me even one of those drippingly gorgeous fuchsia blossoms that burst forth from the center of each of the flat leaves.
Even though my plant had gone wild — some extensions have eight or more ovals but no buds until yesterday. Among the more than fifty wild extensions that have grown like an unbridled collection of electrocuted dreadlocks going every which way, I spied one tiny bud emerging. Today it’s microscopically bigger than it was yesterday. It is unequivocally a bud.
Maybe it’s because of the research I’ve done, learning everything I could about the plant and how to get it to bloom again. Maybe it’s because I moved her away from the radiator and the glare of a table lamp. But mostly, I think it’s because I’ve been talking to her out loud, offering admiration and encouragement. Maybe she decided to answer me with at least one bud to give me hope for the new year.