Sunday, December 19, 2010
Bloom, O Christmas Cactus
Zygocactus ~ Christmas Cactus
My Christmas cactus has foliage that is thriving! It continues to grow by leaps and bounds. If only it would bloom so generously. I'm still working on creating conditions that are favorable to blossom. Last week a quarter of my plant budded and is blooming. It's all at one side and the rest of the plant remains barren of color. I think I am trying too hard to get it right. I've also been curious about why some zygocactus blooms at Thanksgiving and others at Easter. It's like they become confused with the seasons. Today's newspaper has a few answers to my questions about . They confirm some of my own conclusions and it appears that I just need to be more careful about how I treat my plant. Essentially, I am giving it too much TLC. The extension agent author also outlined the reason why some cacti bloom in December and others in November or March or April. Here is a condensed version of the information they shared:
1. There are three kinds of cacti ~ Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter. The Thanksgiving cactus blooms from Thanksgiving to Christmas. Its blossoms are red, salmon-orange, lavender, or white. The foliage segments have two to four saw-toothed points. The Christmas cactus blooms from Christmas through March. It has red or white flowers. There are four rounded scallops on the edges of each foliage segment. The Easter cactus blooms sometime between March and May. Occasionally it will bloom again in the autumn. Its segments are smoother, with wavy edges and brown bristles at the very tip. The blossoms of the Easter cactus are generally pink or red.
2. The bloom of these cacti is triggered by short days and cool temperatures. They should be grown in a room that gets natural, bright light and gets dark when the sun goes down each night. They thrive best in rooms that are 65 degrees F. or less.
3. They shouldn't be over-watered. Soil kept on the dry side is desirable, especially in the period leading up to their blooming period.
4. Additionally, Alma's friend, Janet grows beautiful Christmas cactus. Her secret is to grow them outside all summer, bringing them into the house in October. At that time she adds 1 - 2 Tbsp. of castor oil to the soil. She believes this helps them to bloom. She waters them minimally year around.
My diagnosis of my Christmas cactus is that it needs to be moved from the living room where wood heat keeps it too warm! And that I need to give it a little bit less care when it comes to watering. My Thanksgiving cactus, on the other hand, spent the summer and fall on the back porch. It was looking so neglected when I brought it into the house that I nearly threw it away. I didn't, and it rewarded me with a plethora of beautiful blossoms at Thanksgiving.
Do you grow zygocactus? What are your tips for abundant blooms?