Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Christmas cacti in bloom

This blog post marks my first update on a particular plant.  Last year I posted some information on seasonal plants and some pictures of my seasonals in bloom, including my Amaryllis and "Christmas Cactus."  Once again, it is that time of year and my cactus is covered in tiny buds.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="350" caption="My Christmas cactus buds"]My Christmas cactus buds[/caption]

As you can see, my cactus doesn't look too good this year.  I sat it outside a little early in the Spring and I think it actually froze one night, but was able to hang on.

About a year ago, a friend of mine left for Ireland to live for a year or two.  She left her plants behind with me (which is fun) and her big, healthy Christmas Cactus is also blooming.  Hers looks much better than mine:

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="497" caption="My friend's Christmas cactus in bloom"]My friends Christmas cactus in bloom[/caption]

Identification

I would be remiss if I didn't talk a little about  this plant and its correct identification here.  The Christmas/Thanksgiving/Easter/Holiday Cactus has been called lots of names.  And there are actually about four or five different species from the genus Schlumbergera that are labeled with this common name.  Two other genera are commonly called Name-Your-Holiday Cactus - Hatiora and Rhipsalis, both of which are less common.  Both of my plants are from the genus Schlumbergera, although I have not tried too hard to identify which species.  I wouldn't be surprised if they are two different species, but they might be the same one.

General Care

They are very easy to care for and very easy to bring to bloom.  Last year, my wife read some information about bringing them to bloom - putting the plant in a cold room (our garage), allowing it about 12 hours sunlight, 12 hours dark, and putting a glass of water next to it to increase the humidity slightly.  It worked great.  This year I think both plants beat us to the punch, putting out buds before I remembered to put them in the garage.

During the summer I leave them both on my back porch, which receives dappled sunlight most of the day and water them infrequently - about once a week or less.

They are also very easy to propagate.  Simply pinch off a section of plant and put it in dirt.  Viola - You have a new plant!

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="350" caption="A Christmas cactus I started"]A Christmas cactus I started[/caption]

4 comments:

  1. What beautiful blooms! I have a small Christmas cactus, but it has never bloomed. It was propagated from an older plant about 4 years ago. I think it's lighting is not right.

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  2. What beautiful blooms on your cactus. I have one but it blooms before Thanksgiving.Does that mean it is a Thanksgiving cactus? :-)

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  3. Nancy, I hope your cactus blooms for you next year.

    Lona, actually yes. It probably is a Thanksgiving cactus. The funny thing is, there really isn't a wrong common name for a plant. People have started just calling Schlumbergeras Holiday Cactus and it's not to be politically correct. :) Some of these species have been forced out of season and others naturally bloom at different times. It is perfectly fine to call your plant an Easter cactus, Thanksgiving cactus, or even Secretary's Day Cactus I guess.

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  4. Mine in the front window is blooming! :-) I don't do anything differently with it than any other plant. It sits in the very same spot year round, but it starts budding each year around Thanksgiving and has lots of pretty blooms open now.
    It seems like last year it bloomed again close to Easter.
    I attribute its great beauty to its happiness. Its pot sits in a beautiful pink flamingo pot and it has a front row seat to see whomever walks upon the front porch, so sort of has the same position in life as the Walmart greeter. :-)

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