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Saturday, August 8, 2009

My Coral Cactus

Jimmy and the coral


My paternal grandmother loves cacti. She's very ill now; she has Alzheimer's. She has forgotten my generation - or rather - she thinks we're all very small.

The last time I spent a few days with her, she told me some great stories about my "Uncle George". Then she'd shake her head and say, "No, he's your grandpa, isn't he?" We had a good time, but I think what bothered me the most - more than her forgetfulness, which was expected - was that her cacti were disappearing. There weren't nearly as many as before. That made me sad. Those cacti were a big part of who she was to me when I was little.

Grandpa built his ships, and Grandma had all kinds of cacti. She had a cactus with flowers, one that was tall, one that was fat, a soft one, a super spiky one... all kinds, all shapes. I've loved them ever since. She said she liked them because they were "hard to kill". :)

Boy was she right! I have a coral cactus that I bought at Wal-mart (of all places), and I don't think I've watered it since Christmas. It's quite happy on my deck in the heat and humidity. It rains occasionally, so I guess that's all it needs. I stuck it out there once the cold evenings had passed. Before that, I had it sitting on an end table by a bay window so that it could get light and warmth. It sure is happy. It's even getting ready to blossom again!

Before I show you the current pictures, I want you to see how it looked when I bought it. My mom, Clara, took a picture of it for her photo hunt shortly after I had bought it. Here it is, with tiny flowers and all:

Isn't it cute?

It's a bit more rugged now, I'll admit, and I thought maybe I had figured out a way to kill a cactus. You see, it lost its purple almost entirely, and the green became spotty. Then, last week - boom! - Purple and flowers and new growth. Practically explosive! This is the second time it's grown (the first was shortly after I got it), and it's growing like crazy right now! Check it out:

All of the bumps and folds you see in these two pictures are new growth. The fold in the picture above began with the 1st growing cycle, and it is accelerating quickly in the second, with a matching fold on the far side now. The high bumps in the picture below are new this summer.

All of those bright purple ridges are flowering and will be producing new growth soon. I am so excited! I can't wait to see what shape my coral will take next.

Thanks, Grandma, for giving me (among other things) a love of cacti.

12 comments:

Debbie said...

That cactus is amazing. I've never seen anything like it. How fun.
I am sorry about your grandmother.

Jeanette said...

Wow. I've never owned a cactus. That is truly amazing. Thank you so much for sharing.

Jill said...

The cactus is so pretty! I think you should really start planting a lot of them like she used to. In her honor! That would be nice for her and for you too!

Julia said...

Cactus are amazing. Such survival adaptations are wonderful. I am always happy going to desert habitats where I can see the diverse means of coping with the heat and dessication.

I have no cacti! Used to have a little garden in a pot but I cant remember what happened. They must have died. Ops!

Clara said...

Wow! It looks enormous. And so beautiful. I remember your G'ma Carley's cacti. I've never seen so many different ones in a private home. You have to go to the botanical gardens to see more. I'm glad you like them, too.

Kory said...

I just got this cacti for mothers day. Does anyone know of a good site that says the care for it?

Anonymous said...

Hmmmm .. I wish I had seen this before I croaked my coral cactus. I think it got too much water and instead of flourishing before your eyes like yours did, mine collapsed!! My reputation of having a black thumb continues ...

Anonymous said...

I visited my sister in Key West and saw these at the Home Depot there, but I couldn't fit one in my luggage. So I ordered one on Sunday 2-13-10 from their website, specifying the Key West store. I got it 2nd day Fedex today and it is gorgeous! Much prettier than the ones at the store. I'm so glad that I found it. Then I saw them here in Colorado Springs at the Lowes (after I ordered it of course). So that's how you can get one if you want one.

Mary Anne said...

mt coeal cactus has green leaves that are very big. Do I leave them on or trim them off? mae2626@bellsouth.net

KATRINA said...

Yes I have 2 coral cactus and I love them I water with a shotr glass 1 time every 2 weeks and they seem to be happy blooming and growing but when do I transplant them and how ?????? Katrina

Denny said...

cool have u repotted it at all? i just bought one (small) today at walmart hope mine does as well as yours

Mikki Black said...

Actually, Denny, I just repotted it yesterday. I picked up some friends for it and grabbed a bad of miracle grow cactus soil at Lowe's. It's growing happily still! :)

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