Gardening is a popular hobby, but there are a few Aberdeen residents who have cultivated their love of plants for just a little bit longer than most.
Succulents are known for their hardiness and long lifespans, but George Casanova’s 130-year-old Christmas cactus is a cut above the rest.
His grandparents, Ernest and Gottliebe Brick, immigrated to the United States from Germany in the 1880s. Gottliebe received the Christmas cactus in the 1890s, and it has remained in the family ever since.
“My mother and father inherited the plant, and after that I kept it,” Casanova said.
The plant’s longevity is attributed to a few factors. George doesn’t move it around much, and it likes dry soil. He waters it once a week, but he also pays attention to its leaves to make sure it’s getting enough water. The plant gets plenty of bright, indirect sunlight from his living room window.
Joel Murano also has a Christmas cactus that he inherited from his grandmother Phyllis Harms. She received the cutting from her mother-in-law as a wedding gift, and she kept it thriving ever since. A few years ago, Phyllis gave Joel a portion. In the summer months, he keeps it on the back patio and moves it to his basement in the winter. The cactus blooms from December to February. The original cutting is at least 105 years old.
“My grandmother was a master gardener, and she was also one of my very best friends,” Joel said. “It’s an extremely special heirloom that she trusted me to care for.”
Carolyn Eaton’s oldest plant isn’t a succulent – it’s a geranium. Her husband’s grandmother had a geranium and gave her a start 50 years ago.
“My mother-in-law and her mother could grow anything,” Carolyn said. She held onto the plant through their many moves, and the geranium did well until they moved to South Dakota.
“I almost lost it at one point,” Carolyn said. “I trimmed it down to nothing, but it came back and is doing better now.”
Now the geranium is inside full time and has a grow light to help it out.
Renita Kainz has an impressive collection of plants both inside her home and her 18×10’ heated greenhouse in her backyard. Her oldest plant is a jade plant she got in college. She also has a rabbit foot fern that she received from her mother over 20 years ago. Her love of plants began in high school, when her mother brought home an impatiens plant.
“It’s so much fun doing stuff like this,” Renita said. She had worked in a greenhouse in Minot, ND for several years and now starts her own seeds and propagations. //—Annie Scott