Here's the condensed version of how this little cactus came to live with me. It was given to me by one of my students during the very last class I taught. I had been teaching for many years when my DH decided that it was time for him to move on. I was also attending college classes during the day, which I immediately needed to drop out of. I took a day job instead, in addition to my night classes, and I continued teaching for about a year after our divorce was finalized. I taught 3 classes per night, 3 nights a week (of course in addition to working more than 40 hours a week!). My son would come along with me at night, and my classes started around 6pm, and wouldn't end until around 10pm, so it was hard for him to work on his homework while there. Not to mention, it wasn't exactly my idea of spending "quality time" with him. Of course I always wanted to be available for him with homework questions, and just to hang out. So...after much thought, I made the decision to go into an early retirement of sorts. At this point I had been an instructor for 15years, and I really liked it! Besides, I thought I could always teach classes any time I wanted to in the future. I really loved it. Everything about it. I met the most interesting people, and I made a wonderful friendship that I still have to this very day.
At the very end of my very last class (November 1997!!!), one of my students and her little girl presented me with a tissue-wrapped object. When I opened it, it turned out to be a cute little Christmas Cactus! How sweet! It wasn't blooming, and the only plant stake it had said that it was a Christmas Cactus and that it had been grown in Canada. I really had no idea what color the blooms would be, but I couldn't wait to find out. My dear grandmother had an absolutely gorgeous Christmas Cactus that bloomed hundreds of bright red blooms every Christmas. I knew how she cared for it, and I thought my odds would be pretty good that I could have beautiful blooms too.
I read up on Christmas Cactus's, and followed all of the advice, but I never seemed to have much luck in getting it to bloom. Nonetheless I kept trying. It did have an incident once when a well-intentioned neighbor was house-sitting for me. Half of the cactus got broken off, but it was a tough little guy and pulled through. Eventually, that half filled in pretty nicely, but still no blooms. I moved it to different parts of my home with darker and cooler rooms for periods of time. Still nothing.
A couple of years ago, I bought a small bakers rack and set it up on my front porch. I have always admired porches that had one. I'm on the lookout for a full-sized bakers rack so I can have two and get my porch looking more the way I'd like it to. I decided to put my Christmas Cactus right out there on the porch, and I also bought several different varieties of cactus to keep it company. But that's another story for another day! At the end of the season, I brought them all back inside and set it up in the living room below a southern exposure window.
I was certainly shocked to find my Christmas Cactus filled with all of these tiny little whitish nubs. At first I thought it may have insect casings or something. But those little nubs looked much different in a just one day. Could I have buds forming?! I'd better keep my eye on this. They grew very quickly, and in a matter of days, they began to pop open!! So that's what my cactus was wanting these past 10 years!! Oh what a glorious sight! You would have thought I won a lottery or something. They are creamy-pinkish-ivory, with fuchsia stamens. No idea what variety this Christmas Cactus is, but I adore the exotic-looking blooms, and how fragile they look. If you happen to know, please send me a note!
This is the second year that it's bloomed, and there are even more this year than there were last year! Oh, I hope next year it will produce even more!