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Sunrise_Anne
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Christmas Cactus, What to do now?

This baby started out this size this past spring. A friend of my son's gave it to me, and I had no idea what it even was.

[img]https://i206.photobucket.com/albums/bb223/anney_2007/100_0389-1.jpg[/img]

Look at today.

[img]https://i206.photobucket.com/albums/bb223/anney_2007/100_0518-1.jpg[/img]

[img]https://i206.photobucket.com/albums/bb223/anney_2007/100_0517-1.jpg[/img]

I had to divide it and put it in a 1-gallon pot. It obviously thrived being outside in half-sun-half-shade this summer, but I know that if I want it to bloom, I'll need to bring it inside soon. I shouldn't divide it again until next spring, should I? It certainly looks untidy!

And what next? I've read all I can find about the treatment of Christmas Cactuses and have a dark closet space that I can put it in when it gets cooler.

Any tips?

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Kisal
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If you want to try to make it bloom, you can place it outdoors for a few weeks, as long as the night temperatures don't drop below 55º F. The cool night temperatures stimulate bud set. It's a little late to do this ... September 1st has always been the date I put my holiday cacti outside ... but you might have a flower or two for New Year's or shortly after.

I would leave the long branch on it for now. In the spring, you could take it off and use the leaves to start more plants. I would probably separate it at the joint just below where all the new leaves have sprouted, and use that entire end to start a plant. More branches should sprout from the end of the leaf on the old plant.

If you prefer, you can give the plant 16 hours of darkness, instead of the cool night temperatures. I find that more difficult, because almost invariably, I suddenly desperately require something that is stored in the closet or cabinet where I've stashed the plant. Opening the door, of course, disrupts everything. I also don't keep particularly regular hours, so I always worry that I'll get busy with other things and completely forget about the plant, only to discover it by accident months later. :lol: You can just cover the plant with a box or tub, instead of placing it in a closet or cabinet, but I know myself well enough to know I'd still probably forget about it, :roll:

Either method works quite well, though, to encourage holiday cacti to bloom. Last year, my holiday cacti all began to bloom just before Thanksgiving, and didn't stop until April of this year. :D

This year, however, I'm experimenting with a different method. I have all the holiday cacti in my south bedroom, which is unused at the moment. The room is unheated and the windows are open, so they're getting the cool night temperatures, as well as the natural daylight for this time of year. That isn't 16 hours of darkness, but the plants don't require both conditions in order to set buds, either one alone will do the trick. :)
"Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?" - Douglas Adams

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Sunrise_Anne
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Some more questions...

Hi, Kisal!

I brought the container inside to snap a photo since it was raining but it's back outside now.

Isn't that interesting that cool weather OR a long period of darkness can trigger the blooming! What I'll be able to do when the night-time temps go lower than 55 is to bring it inside and keep it by a window in an unheated room. That will probably be better than putting it in my closet, since I can also forget about something that's out of sight!

What about fertilizer during this phase of its life? I don't think I've fertilized it at all from the time I received the leaf, though the soil left over from a lettuce bin probably had some fertilizer remaining in it. I do have a kazillion potassium tablets and wonder if the plants would benefit now from a couple of them or should I just wait?

Do the blossoms always originate from the growing tips of the plant? The pictures look like that.

I can hardly wait for this one to bloom! :D
The sea rises, the light fails, lovers cling to each other, and children cling to us. The moment we cease to hold each other, the moment we break faith with one another, the sea engulfs us and the light goes out. -- James Baldwin

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Kisal
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I don't fertilize mine except during spring and summer. That's when they're adding new leafy growth. It might be okay to give them a little blossom booster now, but I wouldn't do it later than the end of this month. I would mix it about 1/2 or 1/4 the strength suggested on the label.

The holiday cacti are native to the jungle. They like humidity and very well-draining soil.

Yes, the buds form on the end of each leaf segment, and when the blooms are spent, a new leaf or two will form there. On some types, little fibrous rootlets will form at the leaf joints, too. :)
"Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?" - Douglas Adams

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lorax
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OK, maybe I'm way off, but this plant doesn't look like the holiday cacti ([url=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schlumbergera_gaertneri]Schlumbergera[/url] and Hatiora) to me. It looks more like an [url=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epiphyllum_oxypetalum]Epiphyllum oxypetalum[/url] cv. (Night-blooming Cereus).

However, Kisal's care instructions are bang-on. :()

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Sunrise_Anne
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Lorax

Wow! So I have a plant and don't know what it actually is. I've looked at the pictures of a NBC, and you are right, the leaves look very much like the ones on my plant. But they also look like Christmas cactus leaves to me, too!

I guess I'll find out sooner or later, depending on when it blooms and the blossom shape. I'll just grow it cool with good light after warm weather has passed here and see what happens.

Now you've really whetted my curiosity. Here are some more photos, so maybe you guys can ID the plant from them.

Close-up:

[img]https://i206.photobucket.com/albums/bb223/anney_2007/100_0520.jpg[/img]

Whole plant:

[img]https://i206.photobucket.com/albums/bb223/anney_2007/100_0519.jpg[/img]

More leaf detail:

[img]https://i206.photobucket.com/albums/bb223/anney_2007/100_0522.jpg[/img]

And another:

[img]https://i206.photobucket.com/albums/bb223/anney_2007/100_0521.jpg[/img]

If it's a NBC, it might grow to six feet tall? I'm sure it would need some support if that's what it is!
The sea rises, the light fails, lovers cling to each other, and children cling to us. The moment we cease to hold each other, the moment we break faith with one another, the sea engulfs us and the light goes out. -- James Baldwin

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lorax
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See, from the size of those leaves, I'd be saying NBC over the holiday cacti - the holiday cacti normally have that style of leaf, but only 3-4" long, not 6" plus. It will eventually get quite big, and will want some sort of support, or you can let it dangle (which is what they do in the forests where they're native.) You're probably about a year out from flowers, if you leave the plant be and just deal with water and ferts.

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Sunrise_Anne
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Thanks so much!

Oh, what fun, Lorax! :D

The thing will be to keep it alive and not forget about it in the other room when I move it in. I haven't used one of those internet calendars, but maybe it's time. (As time passes by, I'm getting more forgetful anyway and have all kinds of tricks to remind myself of important things!) A weekly check ought to be enough.

Are these instructions for their care sufficient?

https://www.jackeden.com/cgi-bin/sheets/viewdata.cgi?id=985368793

The roots are already pot-bound all the way up to the soil surface, so I don't think I can "refresh" the soil as recommended unless I put them in a larger pot.

I also have two avocado plants that I'm coddling. So far, they're thriving, though I know they won't produce fruit in my environment. And a surprise Brandywine tomato sprouted in my lettuce bin. It has blossoms and a couple of pea-sized tomatoes. I really wish there were time enough before frost for them to ripen, though I'm not counting any chickens. :D
The sea rises, the light fails, lovers cling to each other, and children cling to us. The moment we cease to hold each other, the moment we break faith with one another, the sea engulfs us and the light goes out. -- James Baldwin

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lorax
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Anne, this is actually an epiphytic cactus, so rootbound isn't so much an issue for it as it might be for a terrestrial plant. I'll see if I can find some photos of Epis in nature - they grow in the crooks of trees, well above the forest floor, then droop downards. There are some species in the jungles downhill of me - I'll keep an eye out for them next time I'm in the area.

I agree with all of the care on that link other than dousing the plant with really nasty pesticides after the summer season. I'd be checking carefully for bugs, and if I saw any, I'd be using a blend of castille soap, olive oil, and water, with a few drops of essential oil of rosemary to kill them off.

For your surprise Brandywine - why not dig it out of the composter, pot it up, and bring it inside? Tomatoes make lovely houseplants.... :-()

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