The Cactus League…

She’s been in my house (team) and under my care (ownership) since 2006. I crowned her ‘The Divine Miss M’ (here on out-TDMM) after my neighbor and friend Mildred. I should be an expert on her care, but I’m still clueless about her basic needs. The worst part, it’s not easy to spot when something’s amiss until it’s almost too late to resuscitate her (BS-blown save). I act like a rookie and she’s a seasoned veteran, obviously way out of my league. I’ve SOS (struck out swinging). Twice.

The Divine Miss M in 2012…

TDMM’s beginning (rookie season) goes way back. As far as I can remember, Mildred acquired her (before the trade deadline) during the 1930’s (Babe Ruth was still hitting homers) from a relative out east. TDMM spent winters (off season) in the picture window of Mildred’s family room and summers on a semi-covered patio (increasing her BA-batting average). She thrived at Mildred’s (friendly confines) for decades.

My dear friend Mildred…

After Mildred passed away, (promoted to the front office) her daughter offered me the Christmas cactus. She wasn’t much to look at really. Hopelessly root bound and leaning awkwardly over the side of her clay pot. Looked like she was inching way too far off the bag and trying to snag a (SB-stolen base). TDMM was one of several keepsakes I brought home that day including a blown glass water pitcher, tea pot, Mildred’s wedding dress (uniform) and a small gorgeous watercolor. It never occurred to me keeping TDMM alive (in play) would cause me such angst. I was struggling. I blame my thumbs. Neither are green.

Mildred’s tea pot…

Her exaggerated curvy bend made me twitchy so I bought a new pot, soil and set her in planter ramrod straight (worked on her stance). That’s better. She agreed her hip no longer hurt and came off the DL (disabled list). She was healthy for several years, increasing her BA (batting average). I never knew there are several varieties of Christmas cacti and each type blooms at different times during the year. TDMM usually blooms between Halloween & Thanksgiving, takes the winter off, blooms again around Easter (spring training). She can be quite a show off (hotdog).

The watercolor from Mildred…

There were no plants in my house growing up. Mom and dad had a garden and for a spell mom was fascinated with growing and showing flowers like canna’s, zinnias, tulips, marigolds, bleeding hearts, tiger lilies, peony bushes, gladiolus and chrysanthemums. Mom arranged the flowers on long needle like spikes with some kind of putty (spit ball-illegal) stuck on the bottom of the planter. After she’d entered her creations in flower shows they’d sit on the dining room table (batter’s box) for a couple days until something new bloomed. But I can’t ever remember having house plants.

Mom’s flower garden 1962…

Since I had zero experience growing indoor plants it’s not surprising that I killed (sent down to the minors) a boatload over the years, but eventually found a couple varieties that prospered in my house (long home stand). For some reason African Violets do well and Mildred’s Christmas Cactus (double play). I snipped off some of TDMM’s long shoots and stuck them in new soil. After a couple years I had started a dozen new baby cacti (farm club) and gave them to everyone I knew, whether they asked for one or not.

TDMM looking better this month…

When we sold our house in 2015, we moved 150 miles east and in with Shannon’s family for 6 weeks while we cleaned, painted, bought new flooring, appliances and hired a contractor for a bathroom remodel for the house we’d just bought. I moved several African violets and TDMM and set them on Shannon’s covered patio. Truth is the plants were ignored for a few weeks, even after we moved to our new house (ballpark). By the time I noticed how sickly TDMM was it was almost too late.

Loving her spot in the window…

I was shocked to find my cactus swimming in water (rain delay) when I hadn’t given her any. My friend Marlys told me she was drowning and rotting under the soil. The best thing to do was snip off several nice green shoots and replant them in new soil which I did. It took her a few months on the IR (injured reserve) but TDMM started blooming again late in 2016. You wouldn’t think I’d make the same mistake again but sure enough I did. My ERA (earned run average) was rising faster than inflation.

Last winter we went to Alabama for 2 months. I moved all my plants to the south windows and had a neighbor come over as my DH (designated hitter) once a week to water. (She’s an amazing plant person and has a garden to die for every summer). I guess I wasn’t specific about the small amount of water TDMM needed-then compounded the problem by not paying close attention after I got home. I moved her back to her usual spot (in the pitching rotation) and after a couple weeks realized she wasn’t doing well. Sure enough there was standing water in the planter (back to the DL-disabled list).

Look at those double buds on some ends…

I had a hard time finding succulent soil (the pandemic was going crazy with weird shortages so ordered it from Amazon). Cut off 25- 4” shoots, emptied the planter, filled the bottom with rocks and new soil and hoped for the best. I had enough of TDMM’s thriving offspring (RBI’s-runs batted in) with friends and family so I wasn’t concerned about losing my link from Mildred, but how could I be so negligent to nearly lose the mother plant-twice? (down in the count 0-2)

I replanted TDMM about a year ago and it looks as though she’s finally forgiven me for multiple errors. Again. I noticed a few buds in February, several more every few days. I counted 75 buds/blooms with 5 double buds which are pretty rare since she’s been on my team. I’m grateful TDMM’s giving me another chance. I worry because she indicated it’s 3 strikes and I’m out…

6 thoughts on “The Cactus League…

  1. All of this is just so delightful! My white one has a dozen blooms right now, but I’ve wondered if you should “feed” them. Looks like you have better luck overwatering, then repotting them! I used to have a barrel cactus from my Grandma Ruby. It used to grow babies all over it, that you could make starts with. Alas, somewhere along the line I’ve lost the mother one and any offspring.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Joy! Yup she almost drowned twice by my negligence. TDMM was too close to the edge of Shannon’s patio and didn’t realize she got so much rain in those 6 weeks. I do fertilize her every couple months. I’ve had good luck starting new African violets from older plants too and I’m the least planty person I know…

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Your keepsakes from Mildred are all gorgeous, Neese. I couldn’t get through the winter without a little indoor greenery but I have never had an African Violet survive more than a few days. I did have an English Ivy when I lived up north. It was amazing and would bloom a couple of times as year. I was gorgeous in white daisy like blossoms.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Anne Marie, Mildred was a fantastic neighbor and friend. I’m just as stumped as you about African violets, I have no clue why they thrive under my inattentive care. Right now I have 3 and all have to have a plant removed and repotted separately. It’s like they sprout a baby in the same planter and although I don’t know what I’m doing, I’ve hacked them out, replanted the baby in its own pot and it grows and blooms. I fertilize every couple months, water about once a week and all are in the north window. I really can’t take credit for their well-being…

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