Garden Rows

Monday, January 30

Early Winter Flowers

One way you can tell if you have a Thanksgiving Cactus or a Christmas cactus is to wait for it to bloom.  They will bloom near the holiday that they are named after.  Stating the obvious? maybe, but plants don't always have the same definition of obvious as we do.

There are, apparently, a few different varieties of these fun, easy to grow succulents.  I am pretty sure I have two.  The one in the picture above is a Thanksgiving Cactus.  The most common "holiday cactus."  It is a baby from my in-law's plant. It was given to me in full bloom, just busting with flowers from every direction!  I have not had such bountiful success, but it may be because I have not "pruned" it.

The other cactus is a later bloomer making me think it might actually be a true Christmas Cactus.

Also, you may notice that the segments (they are not leaves) are more scalloped and less jagged.

this picture is from after blooming, before pruning
The plant on the left set buds (for the first time since I have had it) around Christmas time and they might have actually bloomed around New Years, but they dropped off.  I think it was because I let the plants go too long with out water.  Everyone has now recovered, however, I did not get to see the shape of the flowers.  The shape of the flowers is another way to find out which kind you have.  The true Christmas cactus has a more trumpet like flower, it is symmetrical, and usually blood-red.  I guess I can hope for success next an entire year...oh well :~)

Here are a few helpful links I found:
the gardener cook
House plants

In the mean time I have pruned both plants to encourage more blooms.  Pruning these guys is incredibly simple.  No tools needed, just fingers.  Gently pinch/grab with your thumb and index finger on either side of the joint you want to separate. Pull apart gently, you may need to give a little twist.  You will now have this:

A segment.  I usually pick one or two segments deep that have tiny little hair like roots already.  This is not a great example because I planted the best ones before snapping any pictures.

Here are the plants after:

Nothing dramatic.  Just took a few segments off here and there to promote growth.  It should encourage them to grow more dense, and not be so lanky.  I may have a dozen or so new plants here in a few weeks!  Want one?

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