My cactus finally bloomed, after only 16 years of waiting.
Sixteen years ago, as I raided the seed package carousel at the local Walmart, I came upon one package entitled “Desert Cactus Plants.” It had a photo of various types of cactus, none of which I was familiar with. We don’t see many cacti here in the heartland, just an occasional patch of those big ugly flat types with the yellow blooms atop them in summer. I think they are called “Prickly Pear,” and people put them in dry, rocky places here. I’m surprised they don’t rot.
Anyway, I bought the seed packet and followed the instructions. A few weeks later I noticed I had several tiny—and I mean tiny with a “t”—cactus seedlings in the sandy pot. I nurtured them all that year and one by one they all died, until I was left with one single plant. I put it in its own pot and pretty much protected it from all the rainfall we get around here by planting it in a mix of gravel of sand—no saucer under it, of course.
And it lived. And it grew—slowly. Over the next decade, as I moved around the country, I hauled it with me wherever I went. I got jabbed by the incredibly sharp thorns on many occasions. More than once it was almost left in a dumpster. Eventually I grew attached to my cactus. It was hardy and it wasn’t demanding. And after it grew to several inches in height I could identify it (I think) as a barrel cactus.
Then, three years ago in early summer, I noticed tiny orange nodules popping up on top of the cactus barrel. And within a few weeks these buds had developed into lovely blossoms, which lasted for several weeks. It has bloomed every summer since.
© Wade Kingston