Simply put, I love growing cacti. These odd-looking plants have captured my eye as well as my heart since I was a child. From their enlarged stems to their highly modified leaves (spines), these succulents make a bold, yet sometimes painful, statement.
Even with the occasional thorn-in-the-paw, it hasn’t daunted me from adding different types of cacti to my collection over the years.
Starting Cacti from Seeds
Although I’ve always been intrigued by different types of cacti, my love of cactus was sealed when I tried my hand at growing cactus seeds as a child. At the time, I’d had a modest amount of experience germinating seeds like radishes, beans, and sunflowers. Starting cacti from seed, though, is truly a challenge for even experienced gardeners.
Patience is the key when growing cactus seeds. These slow-growing plants can take three months or longer to germinate. In the life of a child, three months can seem like a lifetime. From the day I placed my seeds on a damp paper towel, however, I had hope.
Hope eventually paid off in the form of tiny green blobs. To this day, I can remember my amazement at these little green wonders. My cactus seedlings looked nothing like the radish, bean, or sunflower sprouts I had previously grown. Instead, they were round and fat with two ear-like projections. Spines protruded from between the “ears,” which gave my cactus seedlings the appearance of tiny green owls.
Ecstatic that I had successfully germinated cactus, I planted my little green “owls” in potting mix. I anxiously awaited to see what my tiny cacti would turn into as they grew and matured. I waited and waited for these slow-growing plants to mature. Like most things in childhood, I eventually lost interest. One by one my little green owls succumbed to neglect.
Nowadays, I prefer growing cacti from something much more established than cactus seedlings. Thus, most of my adulthood cactus collection has come from the houseplant display at the local supermarket. Still intrigued by these amazing plants, I can’t resist adding a cutie whenever a new batch appears.
My little cactus collection lines the windowsill above my kitchen sink. Each tiny pot sits in a metal bottle cap which serves as a drip tray. Every week or so, I use the faucet sprayer to water them.
Then, on rare occasions, these slow-growing plants pay homage to the care I give them by producing a single flower. Seeing one of my cacti in bloom is always a pleasant surprise. Even with the many flowers which blossom throughout the year in my outside flowerbeds, that one rare cactus flower has a special way of brightening my day and bringing a smile to my face.