The content of this blog is the author's personal view. I am not a theologian, writer, or photographer. The views in this blog are based on personal experiences and not a judgement of what others are doing.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Ugly Cactus comes of age

I have had Mr. Ugly Cactus for maybe 15 or 20 years.  It was a snippet from my former neighbor.  It is ugly and doesn't even really have cactus spines, it is more like a succulent.  You can see maybe a few little spines on the younger ones.  Every year, I ignore this beast in the winter barely watering it enough (it must not need much because I haven't killed it all these years).  Somehow grass planted itself in the soil around it and it goes dormant all winter only to come back to life once I start watering it again.  In the past 5-6 years I have put him out on my deck during the summer.   I have found if I put all my houseplants in one congregated area, close to the water supply, they will all get a daily watering. 

This has worked well and made my houseplants very happy.  A couple of years ago I discovered a bottle of plant fertilizer I had laying around and decided after all these years maybe I would try this.  What I noticed is that of all my plants, the cactus (es) cacti(?) have enjoyed this little nutrient boost the most.  My tall cactus (named Prick) that I got how many years ago (I will have to go outside and count the ridges)(5)(I think) grows about 5-6 inches every summer.  He started out as one of those 6 inch babies that comes in the teeny-tiny pots.  I never knew these actually grew.
This is Prick

I also have a cactus that grows outside year-round.  Yes, it can withstand a Wisconsin winter.  I have named her and her offspring Evil Cactus.  I don't know if I want to keep it, it is so evil, but I am waiting to see if it will flower.  Why would I dislike a plant so much?  Well, for one, you cannot weed around or near it.  You can be as careful as possible and it doesn't matter, it will get you.  Maybe you are thinking of little raspberry thorns, or a rose thorn.  No, these are evil!  I am trying to tell you.  The prick of this cactus is very painful - even if you are being very, very careful.  Then it plants some little baby pricks under your skin that you can't see, but you will have pain for a couple weeks and end up thinking that you have some weird disease.  That is how it stays alive - every living thing learns to just stay away.  We had a guest once put her hand down on it in the dark (in a pot on my porch) thinking it was her purse.  She had to go to the doctor eventually to get all those little pricks out.
One of Evil Cactus(es) offspring,
lookin' all healthy because I am watering it.
I haven't given fertilizer to this family-
maybe I'm afraid of what will happen

And so with Mr Ugly Cactus, the first summer of fertilizing I had a surprise of a few beautiful pink flowers.  Every year now, it blooms on my deck from the time the weather warms up and I start my weekly fertilizing until cold weather brings him inside, finishing up his last blossoms indoors.  And now the beginning of a new season and I am counting no less than 50 new blossoms ready to burst!  Just yesterday, I moved my houseplants and blooming geraniums around to give Mr. Cactus a little more 'star space'.  My daughter didn't know this phrase like I suppose I did, but in a band we all want our star space and we joke about it in our church band.  I found though, that the red geranium was messing with the color scheme of the pink cactus and so had to separate them.  I then felt like I was still crowding too many things together as everything is getting very happy with daily watering's and sunshine and heat.  He now has 'room to bloom'.

I have started a new ugly cactus plant.  It is ugly, and growing every year.  I fertilize this one the same as the others and it hasn't blossomed yet.  I am wondering if it has to get to a certain old age before it blooms.?  Or maybe it needs to get root-bound before it blooms as I haven't ever transplanted Mr. Ugly Cactus.

Mr. Ugly Cactus with all it's blooms on it
and before it had more star space
Anyway, my daughter told me about this song from the movie Juno when I told her about my cactus with the pink blossoms.  I like the song if not just for the fact that they wrote a song about this and here I have a cactus with a bunch of pink flowers on it!  I never thought that growing a cactus (see how careful I was with the tense?) would be so interesting.  I always figured they just sat there and poked people.  I am now discovering that my favorite houseplant just might be a cactus.  Flowering ones that I can hug with my eyes! (see song)

In the sea there is a fish, a fish that has a secret wish
a wish to be a big cactus, with a pink flower on it.
and the flower would be it's offering of love, to the desert
and the desert, so dry and lonely that the creatures all appreciate the effort

and the rattlesnake said I wish I had hands so I could hug you like a man
and then the cactus said don't you understand
my skin is covered with sharp spikes, that'll stab you like a thousand knives
a hug would be nice, but hug my flower with your eyes


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