Stray dogs and Christmas Cactus

2011
01.10

I have whined and complained sufficiently that Jules no longer brings home stray dogs or abandoned cats. He does however bring home sad and ugly plants. He went to the grocery store the other day and brought home this Christmas Cactus. “It was only a buck,” he said.

An abandoned plant just fell in Jules grocery cart.

Rebloom Christmas Cactus

After your Christmas cactus blooms, prune it to encourage the plant to branch out.

Christmas Cactus is a tropical type cactus that is not as drought tolerent as the name implies. Keep the plant in a well-lit location away from drafts, heat vents, fireplaces or other sources of dry, hot air. Fertilize April to October.

A succulant like Christmas Cactus holds lots of water in the leaves and can tolerate dry soil better than wet soil. When the soil is dry to the touch, thoroughly water. Do not leave the plant in standing water. Well-drained soil is a must. Root rot from too much water kills most houseplants.

In the summer I will take the cactus outside in a shady place. Keep out of direct sun or the leaves will burn. Gradually get the cactus plant used living indoors by bringing it in for longer periods each day.

I will water the Christmas cactus, fretilze it, and probably repot it.

The naturally longer nights and cool temperatures in late summer will encourage flower development.

Rebloom Christmas Cactus for the holidays with long uninterrupted dark periods beginning in mid-October. Store your Christmas Cactus in an unused closet, a basment or a garage where the plant gets uninterupted dark periods. Give it only occasional water. Ignore your cactus for about six or eight weeks or, until buds start forming.

Christmas cactus will also bloom if they are subjected to cool temperatures beginning in early November. Ideal temps are 50 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit at night. Bring into bright indirect light when buds begin to form.  It is about this time of the year when Jules reclaims his plant.

Propagate

Pinch off sections of each stem or cut with a sharp knife. You can root new plants from the pinched sections in damp vermiculite. Give all these cutting to guests who gushed over how beautiful your Christmas Cactus was this Christmas.

To transplant your Christmas Cactus you will need to use a potting mix for succulents. Buy potting mix or make your own succulent potting mix with two parts plain potting soil and one part clean vermiculite. Select a pot that is the next size bigger. The need som now potting soul but not a lot of room.

All the neighbor ladies will admire his plant and his growing skills. And he will share little cuttings in vermiculite with the ladies. He will get hugs. And they will tell me how lucky I am.

Then he gets another hug and may be a big red hat kiss, plus a pat on the back.

And I will chase after half the ladies who forgot to get the Christmas cutting.

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