A cactus story

I have a cactus that I got some time ago. I think it came from our house in Salisbury, possibly from Dad’s office when he was still working. That part I am unsure of. This is possibly an early sighting of it from 2005 when it was still in Salisbury.

At some point, it moved in with me while I was living in the Philadelphia area. Here is a shot of it on the windowsill (2012), about 8 months before I moved from Pennsylvania. It looks very green, nice and healthy.

I don’t have many pictures of it in the intervening years. I did not intend to document the life and times of a cactus. It moved with me to Ohio, and then again to our house in Cleveland. At some point, it started to get a bit yellow at spots. You can’t see it in this photo, but it had started around this time (2016).1

The cactus continued to look worse and worse over the next 2-3 years. I didn’t know what to do. I continued to water it to no avail. Finally, I looked up how to repot and transplant cactuses. I then proceeded to wait a few more months to do anything before I finally took action. Here is what the cactus looked like at that point in time, one year ago in 2019.

Notice how most of it is dead. There was a quadrant of it that was still yellowish-green, and a tiny cactus pup on one of the rightmost stalks that was still green. It’s also a bit hard to see, but one of the yellowish-green stalks on the left had been broken, but it was still alive. It was time for surgery.

Upon removing the cactus from the pot, I realized it was originally 3 cuttings. Two had completely died except for the little cactus pup—he got cut off. The remaining original cutting was cleaned and set aside. The broken nub was also cut off. You are supposed to let the cuttings callous and dry out for a few weeks before repotting, so that was what I did. I didn’t expect any of them to make it. The cactus pup was only about 1/2″ long, the little cut knob was maybe 1″, and the main cutting didn’t look great.

Here is the main cactus and the small cutting removed from the pot. The main cactus was replanted up to the top of the brown part on the base.

This the cactus pup, not shown above, immediately after planting. It was always very green, but also very shriveled.

Nothing really happened for about 6–8 weeks. Then they slowly started to get greener. The main cutting was first as it had already had developed roots. Then surprisingly the little cactus pup started to plump up and get a little taller. The following two pictures are from about 2 months after repotting. The other small cutting took a bit longer, but also started to turn greener and plumper.

By the end of the year, 6 months after repotting, everything was looking really great. The original cactus was growing new nubs, the cactus pup (in the center) was actually bigger than the cutting that was originally twice its size, and the cutting (on the right) was coming along nicely as well.

I’m sure they have more to grow. As they stand now, the originally cactus is about 8″ tall, the 1/2″ cactus pup is now 4″ (in the middle again), and the cutting is about 2.5″. They all have new nubs growing off of them. It’s quite amazing.


I found two more pictures of the cactus and have inserted them into this post. The changes are summarized in the addendum.

  1. Yes, those are the same succulents to the left of the cat that are in the previous photo as well. They are still alive and kicking. 

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