My cacti collection started when I was in fourth grade. Back then, no books or Google were available to get some information on how to grow these spiny plants. Despite my ignorance, I persevered to gain more knowledge about these ‘ugly pretty’.
I was the only 10-year-old cacti collector among my plant-buddies, most of them were senior citizens or in the prime of their lives. They were Mrs. Ricarda Ragpala, Mrs. Rosita Kambal, Mrs. Palomares, Mrs. Salustiana Alvia to name a few. These ladies thought I was an amusing kid for I would often bug them about plant-FYI; they would invite me to go with them and visit the gardens of other plant collectors.
Cephalocereus senilis, (Old Man Cactus), Ariocarpus (Rock Cactus), Espostoa and Opuntia varieties were the craze during 1950s. Following the advise of my plant-buddies, I planted all these cacti in sterile sand encased in a plastic container; (we used the empty Star margarine containers as pots that time.) Watering my cacti was easy, I poured a small amount of water near the base of the plants, careful not the wet the cacti’s body directly. In addition, I was not supposed to expose the potted plants in direct sunlight so I placed them near the window sill.
I could say that it was hit-or-miss; some plants thrive while others die but my cacti never produced flowers. Honestly, it didn’t occur to me that they could ever produce pretty blooms until my Echinopsis subdenudata produced white flowers during the 1990’s.
With the help of literature and collaboration with cacti growers, I’ve improved my methods on care and cultivation of my cacti, and also I’ve enjoyed their blooms.