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Archive for January, 2019

After learning a bit about when and how these guys bloom, I figured I’d better learn a few other things about them!  Here’s my Christmas Cactus right now.  I’m tickled with it, and hope to have this kind of a display EVERY year!img_8444First of all, I’d better learn what it’s real name is!  It is formally known as Schlumbergera.  Depending on WHICH of the Holiday Cactus(Thanksgiving, Christmas or Easter) you get, they will have different descriptive names.  But the  “Schlumbergera” will probably always be there.

As it my plant ages, I am assuming it will get larger and more prolific with blooms.

So, how do I accomplish that?  I DO know that they like to be root-bound.  Which means less worries about re-potting.  That’s good, right?

I also know they like to be kind of dry. That’s also great.  Talk about an easy plant to deal with…except for light and temperature, which are BIGGIES!

Here are a few suggestions, and a few links to places where you can read a bit more than I’ll give you.

  • As you know, the flowers appear at the very ends of the stem.  When the flowers are done and shriveled, you can just snip them off, either by pinching them carefully, or using a sharp pruning shears.  When ALL the blooms are gone…ignore the plant!  Little water, no fertilizer, “no nothing” for about a month. Then, during the winter start giving it an occasional “spritz”, gradually begin to treat it like a normal plant until springtime, when you’ll see new growth appear.
  • If you want your plant to be fuller, you can prune it back. Where you cut, you will get two new stems, so go back toward the pot, and watch what happens. Remember when you prune to use SHARP and CLEAN shears, and cut BETWEEN the segments. The best time to do this is in the spring, just as the new growth is beginning.
  • Guide to Holiday Cactus
  • screen shot 2019-01-23 at 2.48.09 pm
  • It is a myth that these cacti should be in direct sunshine.  DO NOT DO THAT. A light exposure to sunshine will be exactly what it needs! These are what’s called “Forest Cacti” so don’t know what to do with direct sun!
  • Never let them get waterlogged!  A drainage hole is an absolute necessity.
  • Once they begin blooming, try not to move them around too much.  This can sometimes cause the buds to drop.  Remember this if you buy a blooming cactus from the grocery store.  Chances are it’s been moved around A LOT!
  • If your home is extra dry, they will love a bit of misting.
  • From everything I’ve read, they are NOT toxic to pets.
  • The Bloom Cycle for A Christmas Cactus-A Simple chart!  
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For the last 7 years or so, my Christmas Cactus have not bloomed, except when I had just purchased them…or when I first arrived from New Hampshire.  I was disappointed.

Those of you that know me, know that I’m not really an “indoor” plant kind of person…although I’m learning to be one here in Seattle, which is VERY different from New England.

So, what’s with the Christmas Cactus?  They put out lots of green growth.  I water them according to their needs…not too much!  They look pretty, all green and shiny, but around Christmas?  No flowers!

This year however, I did a few things differently, and I think “I’ve GOT it”!  As Chair of the Garden Committee (which I just gave up) I saw to it that a rack was put outside on one of the terraces for indoor plants, to be used by anyone in Horizon House who felt their plants would benefit from a summer outside.  I took advantage of that as well.  OUT went my Christmas Cacti!

I have to say that in both Connecticut and New Hampshire, I always put my indoor plants out under a tree for the summer.  (Are you paying attention?)  When we moved here, I didn’t have a spot to park them.  If I put them in my little garden plot, the snails would have eaten them alive! So, they stayed on my window sill, inside.  I didn’t have any closet, basement or garage to put them in for an “unlit”, “cooling” period.  ALL the lighting needs were ignored.  The other thing that was ignored was the temperature.  They had to be either inside or outside, and a rack was not available for me.  So, the plants looked healthy enough, but NO FLOWERS!

Enter the rack this past year.  I got it out in June, and removed it in Mid-October.  My Christmas Cactus loved it!  The temperature was correct, as was the light.  However, they still were not chilled enough to set buds.  Next year, I will request that the rack be left out until we’ve actually had a frost…perhaps sometime in November.

Then miraculously, an opportunity appeared.  We have a non-functioning air-conditioner in our bedroom window.  We finally had it covered…with a wooden box-like structure…A SHELF!  We turn the heat down at night and open the window by the air-conditioner.  When I put the plants on that air-conditioner shelf the cacti rejoiced and set buds!!!!

Yesterday, I felt I had waited long enough, and I brought the two cactus’ that had set buds, out to the living room window sill.  There’s another one on the “cold shelf”, but it is an Easter Cactus, and I can’t expect it to flower for a few more months.  It will remain there until it set’s buds, for SURE!

At any rate, when they tell you that Christmas Cactus (and Easter Cactus) need a cold and dark period in order to bloom, BELIEVE THEM!

I continue to learn.  Gardening inside sure is different!

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