Plant Lust::Schlumbergera

one of my 7 Heavenly Lusts

Thanksgiving cactus, Christmas cactus

Native to the coastal mountains of Brazil, schlumbergera are epiphytic, growing on trees or rocks in generally shady areas with high humidity (such as a rainforest). Common names (Thanksgiving/Christmas cactus) generally refer to their flowering season which in the Northern Hemisphere is fall/winter. Flowers appear at the tips of draping branches which consist of flat, green setments and can grow to 3 feet in length. The flowering period for schlumbergera spans several weeks with each bloom lasting several days. Too much water, lack of water, or dramatic temperature swings can cause buds to drop. Schlumbergera flowers come in white, pink, yellow, orange, red, and purple.

Differences between the two cultivars:
The most commonly sold schlumbergera, Thanksgiving cactus, bears flowers with yellow pollen and pointy “teeth” on the sides of each stem segment. Whereas the stem segments on the Christmas cactus are more scalloped or rounded, with pink pollen produced by its flowers.

Temperature:  60-70°
Light:  Bright indirect light; will tolerate early am/late pm sun
Average to high humidity (I have mine in front of the kitchen window where it gets bright light and plenty of humidity.)
Use a well-draining potting soil like a cactus/succulent mix
Prefers to be slightly pot-bound so when you do replant choose a pot that’s only a tiny bit larger.
Water thoroughly when the top surface feels dry but never let the plant sit in water – it will develop root rot.
Use a balanced water-soluable houseplant fertilizer (half-strength) every other week during blooming season.
Propagation:  Cut a short Y-shaped segment from the stem tips. Plant the segment approximately a quarter of its length deep in slightly sandy soil. Moisten evenly and place the cutting in a well-lit area, away from any direct sunlight. You can repot when roots develop.

Schlumbergera are considered non-toxic to dogs and cats.

How to get your Thanksgiving/Christmas cactus to re-bloom

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Plant Lust::Mimosa pudica

one of my 7 Heavenly Lusts

Mimosa pudica
Sensitive Plant

Tender perennial. Originally native to Central and South America, Mimosa pudica is considered invasive and can be found growing in North America and certain areas of Asia and Australia.

From Latin: pudica “shy, bashful or shrinking”, so named because of the way the plant reacts to contact or movement: the leaves fold inward and droop when touched, shaken, or even blown on; although constant shrinking of its leaves will weaken the plant. Scientists think Mimosa pudica developed this ability as a defense against being eaten.

Mimosa pudica produces small, pink, powder-puff like flowers in the Summer, although indoors it may not bloom at all.

Average room temps
Bright light (some AM sun OK)
Consistently moist (but not soggy) soil
High humidity
Well-draining potting soil
Spring-Summer, feed every 2 weeks with a high-potassium liquid fertilizer diluted by half
Prune regularly to keep it from getting too “leggy”
Propagate by stem cuttings or from seed

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Mimosa pudica is considered poisonous and should be kept away from pets and children. Wash your hands after handling the plant.

Mimosa pudica Care

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Plant Lust::Ceropegia sandersonii

one of my 7 Heavenly Lusts

Ceropegia sandersonii
Parachute plant

A tender perennial vine native to Mozambique, South Africa, and Swaziland. C. sandersonii produces parachute-like flowers from Spring to Fall. Carnivorous flies are tricked into pollinating them by simulating the scent of an injured honey bee.

As these plants have thick, succulent-like leaves don’t allow the soil to remain wet – consistently moist is what they want. (I let mine dry-out a bit between waterings.)

Average room temps
Full sun to part shade
Average humidity
Well-draining potting soil such as a cactus/succulent mix
Feed regularly during blooming season, but cut the strength of your fertilizer in half (or use succulent/cactus food)
Propagate by stem cuttings

My first flower…

Ceropegia are considered non-toxic to dogs and cats.

Ceropegia sandersonii Care

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My Butterwort turned into a Succulent!

one of my 7 Heavenly Lusts

My Mexican Butterwort (a carnivorous plant) just entered its dormant (“succulent”) period – five months late!!* However, this dormant period “can change according to your own growing conditions”. (Never let it be said that I don’t give my plants total autonomy over their own lives.)

Pinguicula moranensis
Mexican Butterwort

Tropical carnivorous plant native to Mexico and Guatemala. Pinguicula moranensis produces single pink, purple, or violet flowers on upright stalks twice a year (Mine flowered continually during its non-dormant period.)

If you want vibrant coloration, grow in early morning sun – filtered sun/bright light will result in green leaves. Avoid the hot afternoon sun during the summer.

(Excellent bug-catchers – especially those pesky gnats!)

Average room temps
Tolerates average to high humidity
Plant in equal parts peat, horticultural sand, and perlite/pumice
Water only with:  distilled, reverse-osmosis, or rainwater
Propagate by leaf cuttings

Non-toxic to dogs and cats.

As of 2.12.17 my P. moranesis was blooming and carnivorously catching insects.

Unlike most carnivorous plants,
Mexican Butterworts are NOT bog plants
and should not be grown as such.

Mexican Pinguicula are among the easiest carnivorous plants to grow; and they make excellent houseplants growing in a bright, sunny window. In the wild, many Mexican Pinguicula grow in seasonal fog forests on limestone cliffs and tree trunks. Some grow in moss, others just cracks in the rocks, quite often on north facing cliffs. The generic name Pinguicula is derived from the Latin pinguis (meaning “fat”) due to the buttery texture of the surface of the carnivorous leaves. The specific epithet moranensis refers to its type location, Mina de Moran.

These plants like warm, humid conditions when in the summer, carnivorous state (May-Sep). During the winter (Oct-Apr) when they are in the succulent state they should be kept cooler and drier. (NOTE: The mentioned months are indicative and can change according to your own growing conditions*. In fact, when this Pinguicula begins to produce its non-carnivorous leaves, you should stop watering – never allowing the soil to completely dry out. Inversely, when the plant begins to produce its carnivorous leaves, you can progressively start watering again.) When grown on a windowsill, you won’t have to worry about the necessary temperature fluctuations required during dormancy period.

A month later, it went dormant…

Mexican Pinguicula need seasonal light cues. With proper light cues most species will have carnivorous leaves from mid-spring through fall. Winter through early spring they will have succulent, non-carnivorous leaves. (Plants grown under continuous light period will essentially get stuck in the non-carnivorous phase.) The seasonal changes are cued by light, not moisture. Water the plants according to the leaf type, not season. When the plants have carnivorous leaves they need to be kept moist and enjoy high humidity (although they do just fine at 20% relative humidity). When they have succulent leaves the plants need less water – keep the soil lightly damp.

Repot during the dormant (succulent) period. Plant in tall plastic pots (make sure there are drainage holes) and grow using the classic tray method for carnivorous plants: set pot in shallow saucer and fill saucer with distilled or rainwater to 1/4″ depth. When plants are in the succulent phase, keep the water level lower – but never allow to dry out. Your P. moranensis will probably need to be repotted every 4-5 years (on average). To avoid fungal infections, remove dead leaves.

Growing Guides
Pinguicula moranesis from El Chico
Tropical Butterwort Care

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Plant Lust::Tradescantia pallida

one of my 7 Heavenly Lusts

Tradescantia pallida
(Purple Heart Wandering Jew, Wash Pot Plant, Purple Secretia, Purple Queen)

Native to Eastern Mexico
Bright light to part sun (early AM-late PM)
Peat-based potting soil amended with perlite (% ratio 70:30)
Average house temps and humidity

The ASPCA lists as toxic to dogs – non-toxic to cats (but may cause an allergic reaction in the skin)

Removes indoor pollutants:
benzene, TCE, toluene, alpha-pinene

Previously classified as Setcreasea purpurea. T. pallida is a species of spiderwort (also called wandering jew) and closely related to T. zebrina. Somewhat drought-tolerant, it can handle some light frost – but also invasive and tough to control. This means Tradescantia pallida is great as a houseplant – especially when grown in a container that will show-off it’s trailing habit.

Like most trailing houseplants, as it grows T. pallida will lose leaves from the base of the stems, making it look leggy. You can either pinch-back the tips (this encourages new growth) or cut off the straggly ends and stick them in a glass of water to root. You’ll have tons of new plants to keep – or give away to your friends!

NOTE:  Leaf-color will be more pronounced if it gets some sun (or very bright light); otherwise if grown in lower-light conditions the leaves will be more green than deep purple.

Plants are the Strangest People
Tradescantia Toxicity
Guide to Houseplants: T. pallida

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