Monday, April 18, 2011
My Easter cactus is in bloom. It is a delight to see the bright pink flowers opening up on my windowsill. And it’s right on time, an April bloomer. As usual, I have been somewhat lackadaisical in my stewardship of the plant. Only after it sent out buds did I check it out. I learned it likes a loose, fairly coarse soil with dry feet so it doesn’t get root rot. It is advised that the plant be placed on a dish with pebbles and watered that way. The cactus thrives in indirect sunlight. It appreciates being fertilized once a month between spring and fall. After its growing period it is best to give it a winter rest in a cool place with minimal watering.
Okay, what did I do that was right? Well, not much. There was no pebble-dish for my plant – I watered it when the soil on top felt dry. But its feet were probably dry because the water must have been pretty much absorbed by the time it got down there. I fertilized it when I remembered rather than on a schedule. There was no official rest period for my cactus; it remained on the windowsill all year. It got the right kind of indirect sunlight, however, as my windowsill faces north. How, I wondered, did this poor plant survive no less put out such beautiful flowers?
I remember an experiment I did with a friend. We each potted two plants, put them in the same place, and watered them equally. The only difference was that we nurtured one plant more than the other, talking to it, caressing its leaves, sending it our best wishes. Both of us found the same results, the nurtured plant thrived while the other one just maintained itself. I realize that I have been doing the same kind of nurturing with my Easter cactus, appreciating it even as I didn’t follow the prescribed care. And it thrives.
Maybe rules don’t count as much as intention. Would all people thrive if we offered them basic needs and appreciation? In our contentious world there often isn’t room for nurturing or acceptance of differences. Common wisdom for the Easter cactus wasn’t what helped the plant grow but grow and flower it did. I wish every person, in every culture, in every country be giving the liberty to thrive. It’s a good time of year for us all to blossom.