Sow There! 12-17-15, How to accidentally grow zygo cactus

Zygo cactus. Heather Hacking — Enterprise-Record
Blooms of a Zygo cactus (right) are stunning on cold days. On the left is a jade plant.Heather Hacking —Enterprise-Record

A week until Christmas and I am feeling calm and collected.

After one more big shopping trip to the Saturday farmers market, I’ll be done with the holiday hunting and gathering.

This weekend, others will be stuck in traffic along 20th Street. People will drive around in circles, hoping for a parking spot within view of the mall.

Some will wait in line, others will cut in line.

People will ruin their sense of smell by sniffing 150 types of perfume, all which smell exactly the same. How am I able avoid this madness?

I started shopping in October.

When my sister and I attended the Native Ways event in Oroville, we gobbled Indian bread and I bought a jar of the batter mix.

On Sierra Oro Farm Trail, my friend liked the garlic and jalapeno olive oil at Butte View. I bought two bottles, one for me and one for the gift box.

Downtown Chico Christmas Preview, gifts, gifts.

Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens gift shop, Fort Bragg fFiremen’s bazaar and Farm City bus tour, more gifts.

My sister is so kind. She knows how much I hate shopping, so she handed me a list of things she wanted from her favorite online vegan store.

Mom and I shopped in October. She tried on a Renaissance-style corset at a local clothing boutique. The moment she left my house, I raced back to the store and bagged it.


To fill in the gift gaps, I’ll drop a few coins at the farmers market  Saturday. I can’t think of better treats than bags of granola, flavored nuts, red walnuts, dried apricots, kiwis, farmstead cheese and even chicken feet (if they have them). I could also splurge on artisan bread, fragrant soap, pottery, bees wax candles, winter squash, winter caps, almond butter, jam … If I am able to visit my family in the Bay Area this year, they love it when I bring a box of apples from Noble Orchards. You just can’t buy apples like that in a big city.


I love plants and people often give me plants as gifts.

Way back when, Elaine Gray bought me a blooming zygo cactus during the holidays.

That was 15 years ago, or more. The plant was still alive but I had not changed the soil all that time

The cactus never bloomed again, and who could blame it. That soil probably contained as much nutrients as a handful of styrofoam packing peanuts.

When I had uterine cancer surgery last spring, I brought all my plants from work to my home.

The zygo cactus sat outside for a while, and complained by dropping many of its “leaves.”

(Zygo cactus does not like too much sun).

Eventually I gave it a new pot and some new soil, and stashed the plant in the shade.

One day I heard that it might freeze overnight, so I pulled a few succulents inside, including the zygo.

This week it bloomed.

I’ve heard that plants sometimes bloom when they are tortured. Some genetic trigger is sprung and the plant “thinks” it would be best to procreate now rather than never.

Just for fun, I looked up the care instructions for zygo cactus. As it turns out, a few of the things I did this year may have actually encouraged the plant to bloom.

AUniversity of California pamphlet says to give the plants about 12 hours of darkness each day to encourage the buds to form. This was accomplished by putting the plant in the living room in winter.

Also, the plant needs to be relatively cool when the buds are forming.

I didn’t know it at the time, but placing the plant near the door (and the chilly outdoors) may have lead to the lovely pink flowers.

The lesson here is to appreciate unexpected blooms, and not to blame yourself if your gift cactus never blooms again.

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