Cactus a bloom for many seasons…Thanksgiving thru Easter

Date: 
02/09/2011
OrangeChristmas

Close-up of an organgish bloom shows differently than the pink bloom on the left

Although Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter cacti are called cactus they are not a true desert cactus. They are several closely related species. Modern holiday cactus are hybrids of Schlumbergera truncate and S. russelliana, which goes back a century and a half ago in England. They range in color from white to pinks, reds and oranges.

With a little care and attention they will last for many years. Some of my own plants are well over ten years old and still bloom. The only problem is that the plants have gotten quite large and I cannot move them outside for the summer.

Care and attention

I grow my plants in a mixture of potting soil and sand about 25% sand to 75% potting soil (the exact mixture is not critical). During the spring and summer I water lightly every week and every other week I add a diluted mixture

PinkBloom
OrangeBud

Prior to the full opening of the flower

of Miracle Grow to the water (about 50% of the normal strength). During the autumn and winter I do not feed and water more sparingly. After flowering the plants need a rest period so water very sparingly for about a month after the flowers have dropped. It may appear weak during this time, but it will get over it.

The plants benefit from being outside in the summer months but should be shaded from direct sun. Of you do put them outside protect them from slugs with slug pellets or something similar as the slugs regard them as a delicacy.

My own plants are located in a large south facing window but are protected from the summer sun by the maple trees growing in the parkway outside.

CactusCutting
Propagation

Propagation is easy from cuttings. Break off two or three segments and let them dry for two or three hours (see picture). If you have rooting compound dip the lower end in rooting compound and plant in a 50% - 50% mixture of sand and potting soil in a four inch pot.

PlantedCutting

Do not plant too deeply. Cut a groove in the mixture and place the cutting into the groove and press the soil firmly around it. You only want to plant it deep enough to enable the cutting to stand upright.

If you do not have the rooting compound, do not worry. They will root most times without it. The cutting must be kept moist at all times. The plant can be enclosed in a plastic bag until it starts to show growth. When the plants get established, repot them to a larger container, using a pot six or seven inches diameter. Use the 25% to75% sand to potting soil mix. They can remain in that pot indefinitely as they bloom better when pot bound.

Comments

Great Article

This is really a very interesting and well written article - thanks for the information.

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