Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Christmas Cactus

Before May of last year, I hadn't even heard of Christmas cacti (I must have been living under a rock). This is one of the plants I picked up at a local swap meet. It was a fairly good sized plant for $1, and probably would have sold at a garden center for $5-10. I've certainly gotten my enjoyment out of it. I had no idea how to care for it, though, but did some research. My mother and I had reservations about my getting it to bloom (a quest I'm considering embarking on again), but I'm happy for it just to sit and grow. It outgrew its first pot, and I put it into one of my painted ones, which unfortunately sustained water damage. It likes a good drink every few days and a spray once per day. Since it's a jungle cacti, I make sure it gets its humidity and have it sitting on a drywell.

I'm not sure which species it is, but it looks different from other cacti I've seen in stores. The cacti in stores have very pointy edges, and my plant's are more rounded. I've called it S. x buckleyi, but I'm not quite sure. Any ideas?

Late last November, I thought it would be nice to have a blooming Christmas cactus! I cut a black plastic bag to size, covered the plant each night at 8:30pm, and uncovered it each morning at 10:30am. I continued this up until about Christmas and found that this new ritual had prompted TONS of new growth, though I didn't see any buds. I obviously hadn't continued this practice long enough to see them, but I lost interest in covering-and-uncovering. Though it's been getting the necessary cooler temps to initiate blooming, it hasn't been getting the definite 14 hours of complete darkness it needs. Someday I'll find out which color its flowers are. My mother says my grandmother once bloomed a Christmas Cactus, so perhaps it's in my blood!

In the photo, you can see all that nasty water damage (which I plan to fix when the plant outgrows the pot), but the plant itself is in good shape. :)
The Christmas Cactus is a ridiculously easy plant to propagate, as I've come to know. I made this discovery when I accidentally broke off a segment of mine and decided to stick it in the dirt. As I hadn't looked into propagating this plant before, I was surprised when the segment didn't rot and then began to grow roots. I was even more pleased when it grew its own new segment (in the photo, the original segment is in the righthand side of the pot). From time to time, a segment will get bumped or simply fall off the big plant, I'll stick it in the dirt, and it'll root.

No comments:

Post a Comment