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

more Plant “Spotlights”

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Looks Like I’m Not the Only One Who’s Happy to be Back!

Given that Stapelia gigantea (aka “carrion flower”) is native to the desert regions of South Africa, you’d THINK it would’ve loved being in the hot and dry city of Placerville (aka “Hootersville”). Apparently not so much. In fact, 99% of the succulents I moved up there perished.

Fortunately my Staplia giantea survived long enough for me to move it back to Santa Clara – where it IMMEDIATELY produced two buds. What’s even more curious is that these buds formed with the plant receiving an hour (at best) of direct sunlight per day!

Went downstairs this morning where I found TWINS!

– and there are two developing bud-lets!

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