About this time of year I need a FIX. Not a drug, a smoke or a drink but a plant fix.
I long for something new, and green and growing. When this compelling desire overtakes me, a garden center is just the place to go.
Several years ago while wandering around Linder's I was fascinated by their tables of tiny succulent plants. There were lots of cacti I had never seen. All were such interesting shapes and colors.
One seldom leaves a garden center witihout a purchase. I was no different. I carefully carried home three little cacti with a small bag of cactus mix.
I knew nothing about planting or growing these prickly little gems. This was before I had a computer so it wasn't long before I was back to purchase an Ortho book "The World of Cactus and Succulents, A complete guide ...." This book still has more information than I can digest.
At first I wasn't careful about keeping the plant name tags. Later I did do some research and found I had a "Cereus alamosensis", affectionately called "Old Man" because of the wavy white "hair" that covers the ribs and spines. From three nches tall, 15 years later, he is 18 inches tall and still very much alive.
I also have "Lemaireocereus cereus". This is a columnar plant with dull green skin and spines on the rib edges. This one is now 30 inches tall from its tiny beginnings.
Purchased at the same time is "Mammillaria bocasana crest". This fuzzy green mound has no actual thorns. I've almose killed it several times - too much water, total neglect - but it is a determined little rascal. None of my cacti have ever bloomed for me although I've read they should have. My neglect again?
Once I started this cactus craze I kept adding. At one time I had four large bowls, each with a number of specimens. I ran out of room. Last fall I had to cut back.
CACTUS ARE FUN. They grow slowly, most like it hot and dry so are happy by heat ducts or sunny windows. They don't need a lot of water so you can go on vacation and they'll be just fine. They aren't fussy, they're happy in a small pot for years and they don't shed. They don't like to be handled, but if you're the touchy feely kind of person or need to transplant, wrap a folded heavy paper towel around like a belt before lifting from the container. Should you get spines in your hand, use a piece of adhesive tape on that area. That should lift the spines out of the affected area.
I'm overdue for that trip to the garden center for my winter fix. How about you? Want to try something different that isn't expensive? Buy a cacti ... buy two or even three.