Monday, October 28, 2013

Christmas Cactuses Bloom when They Are Ready

What I have is called by most gardeners 'Thanksgiving Cactus' but mine do not bloom at Thanksgiving. Growers sell them as Christmas Cactus and some people call them 'Crab Cactus.' I think it solves the puzzle to just call them Schlumbergera without distinguishing which is buckleyi and which is truncata. S. truncata are the ones I have. S. buckleyi is the old oval-leaf form that my mother and your grandmother grew and handed down. I let mine die.

Last December 15. 

I've been looking at pics of previous years' blooms. There are many places on the web where you can find instructions on growing and bringing these jungle cacti to bloom. You know that my tips are haphazard at best. I leave mine outside in summer. This year they got too much water, I'm sure. The Easter Cactus resented that water, and has some virused-looking leaves to show for it.

Bloom in 2011 on a plant I bought for $1.25 after Christmas, 2008. 

I brought all cactuses inside the greenhouse early. They are forming buds. The business about day length is correct but I cannot explain how the security light outside does not prevent their setting buds, maybe the light levels are just not that high.

Yellow. It must be viewed beside a white
to verify the color.

Nights are cool now, which also has an impact. The GH is unheated until temperatures reach near-freezing, then kept not much above freezing. We had one cool morning in the 30s so far.

Schlumbergera mix well with plants with similar requirements. 

This one bloomed early 2013, too late for Christmas.

Mama would say these two clash beautifully.

I forgot to say that none of these have an ID.

It doesn't really matter to me if they have no names. When I watered today, I was so happy just to have nice plants. If a piece breaks, I root another plant. When they get leggy, I pinch back to good form and root more plants. Mr. Subjunctive suggested that I start hybridizing and grow seedlings. It's a marvelous idea but I need to stop growing things that take until I'm nearly 80 to bloom. 

I need to start growing in the here and now. I have tiny Camellias that may not bloom for 5 years. My cycad seedling is 4 inches tall; will I see it to adulthood? The Alyssum seeds I planted last week are coming up -- I need more of that kind of instant gratification while I wait for Agapanthus seedlings to sprout and Parsley to return from going to the devil and back before it shows up.

Bloom, tiny bud like a baby's tooth and a bud.

I hope you enjoyed seeing Christmas Past as much as I did. If you want specifics about growing Schlumbergera, both Mr. Subjunctive and Mr. Brown Thumb have excellent posts giving the history and care of these plants.


  1. I need to stop growing things that take until I'm nearly 80 to bloom.

    For whatever it's worth, I had one seedling try to produce a flower about 14 months after I sowed it. (The flower dropped without developing further, but considering that it was under artificial light in a warm room and probably shouldn't have been trying to bloom in the first place, I figure this is a sign that they're mature enough.)

  2. I did enjoy seeing your Schlumbergera flowers, especially that salmon-colored one. I have two plants, one of which is not doing well. I think it actually got too much direct sun this summer, set out in its pot in the gravel garden. And maybe not enough water.

  3. The yellow one is gorgeous. I have only one of these, and I've been surprised by it blooming the last couple of years. I do nothing to it, as I always forget to put it in a closet or whatever they say to do. So, it takes its cues from Mother Nature. I wonder why the ones with the oval leaves are not sold much.

  4. Mr. Subjunctive suggested that the old S. buckleyi might not be as popular because it hasn't the upright shape as the others, for one reason. I remember Mama's Christmas Cactus splaying out from the center in a huge pot, fantastic in bloom because of the sheer numbers but not really an attractive plant.

    Growers are going to push whatever is easiest to grow and most acceptable to buyers. Sigh.

    Allison, they are fairly forgiving. Once the leaves on mine pinked up and grew smaller because of too much sun and not enough water, the fix was to take cuttings. The old plant is large and still blooms, but the younger pots are prettier.


I look forward to comments and questions and lively discussion of gardening and related ideas.

Google+ Followers