Seriously, get cereus!

Seriously, get cereus!

    Ok, it’s hot. We’re in the thick of summer. Your plants are starting to look tired of all this heat. The garden center plants that are still around look, well, frankly DONE. Couples, young and older, want to spiff up their outdoor space. You know the drill. “But honey, that’s just too girly-looking”. “Yeah, but surely you must be interested in more than a nice green patch of turf.” How about a plant that appeals to both of them? Tough but pretty, having a he-man heart but also in touch with its feminine side. Surely there must be such a plant.

    Well, I’m here to tell you there is in fact such a plant, right here at Calverts. It’s a cactus, but before all you ladies say “euwwwww I don’t like those!” you must know all the facts. This plant is big, blue, ripple-y like a muscled he-man, and has absolutely been blooming his head off since sometime in April! This cactus is a form of cereus in that night-blooming category. The flowers open at night and stay open until early morning. And these aren’t dainty little ditties either. They measure about 10” long and open to around 4 or 5 inches across. But then SHE says, “But honey, if they’re only open at night, how are we going to impress the neighbors unless they stay all night?” And HE says, “Who needs the neighbors?? Just you an’ me an’ our cereus monstrosus baby, under the moonlight!” So there it is—a plant for both sexes.

    Look closely, and it would seem that every prickled joint can grow a flower, and obviously many of these have, especially those that are facing the sun. Some of them come out, then swing around and curve up so they can look at the afternoon sun. Now I’ve never been a cactus expert, but always assumed they don’t want much in the way of water or plant food. But according to a cactus care guide I found, this one wants regular water and food while he’s doing his thing, outside in full sun. Then of course before it freezes, bring it inside your house to a bright spot, and water it very little if at all. So why do they bloom at night? Because this cactus is naturally pollinated by moths and that is when they fly about. If the flowers are pollinated, they will make a red edible fruit. I usually get to work too late to catch the flowers in their act, but did get one picture with my phone. And look—this baby version is a piece that broke off the big fella. Here you can see the scar. After lying around awhile to callus over, it was planted in some sandy soil and now it too is starting to bloom. How cool is that? These guys are more fun than a barrel of orchids! Hmmmm almost worth it to sleep on Calverts floor just to catch the magic…Or wait –there is an easier way—just take one home for your very own. But don’t be surprised if the neighbors want to have a slumber party in your yard!

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