Friday, December 07, 2007

"Cacti" for Christmas

Last August, when the dotter and her family were headed to the wilds of Alaska, the usual happened. Dotter showed up one day with a carload of Stuff, which, like all children, she Deposited with Mom. The freezer was filled to overflowing. She brought her complete suite of houseplants, with instructions that at some point the SIL wanted to take cuttings from the Christmas cactus collection.

So the plants sat in the dark, in my hallway. Then, when the Fabulous Niece from Memphis visited, she cleaned up many surfaces in what had been my late husband's office. It was literally littered with computers and similar gear which she carried to the basement. And then she moved all the alien houseplants onto the window ledge. She even watered them -- the first time in a while.

So the plants have sat. And sat. Awaiting SILs instructions about cuttings. Finally, after a month or so of neglect, I began watering them. Lo and behold, they lifted their little arms and began to blossom. I think I'll have several blooming just for the dotter and SIL who arrive tomorrow!

Now that I have consulted The Google, I find that the plants surely are dead.Say the experts at Hume Seeds, the key to getting Christmas cactus to flower during the holiday season, is the proper light exposure, correct temperatures and limited watering. So during the fall months, the Christmas cactus should be placed in a spot where it receives indoor indirect bright light during the daylight hours but total darkness at night.

The plants in my care have been receiving 1) direct Arizona morning sunlight, 2) fluorescents at night and 3) rather random waterings. And look at the result! They seem to like my casual treatment.

Dear me! I'm beginning to like the dang plants. I had thought to flog them off on FreeCycle to a more nurturing household one of these days, but I guess they're here to stay.

And, if you want to know more about Holiday Cactus (they aren't), I recommend the Wikipedia article. For instance, they are originally forest cacti, growing as epiphytes at elevations between 1000 and 1700 meters above sea level (3280 to 5575 feet above sea level) in the Organ Mountains north of Rio de Janeiro in southeast Brazil, South America (not to be confused with the Organ Mountains of New Mexico in the United States of America). They are called "Flor de maio" (May Flower) in Brazil.

Blog Note: This is, of course, December 7, Pearl Harbor Day. My bro chose this subject for his Very First Post at his new blog. You might take a look! That makes three of us in the immediate family with blogs, BTW.


sheoflittlebrain said...

Beautiful flowers GJ! We've never had luck with Christmas cactus, but had another epiphyte that bloomed with a big, white, sweet smelling flower.

Anonymous said...

Nice blog. I will keep reading. Please take the time to visit my blog about Orchid Care

Granny J said...

brain -- I've never had Christmas cactus, nor has my family until the dotter got into them. Nor epiphytes.

wuttisak -- that goes for orchids, as well. If it grows wild in our woods & is an orchid, I'll photograph it; otherwise, not my cup of tea.

smilnsigh said...

You certainly have a Green Thumb with these Cacti!!! :-)


stitchwort said...

Our big "Christmas cactus" used to flower at Easter. I threw most of it away, keeping only 2 small branches, stuck into small pots on the kitchen window-sill. They are budding right now, and may be in flower before Christmas!

Granny J said...

SnS -- this is my first experience with these critters; I've been both surprised and pleased. The flowers are really quite pretty!

Stitch -- That, I presume, is what the SIL is up to -- I expect him to take cuttings of each plant. And he says he has a yellow blossomed "cactus" on order.

Lane said...

Gosh, they look fabulous! I didn't know how they would fair either when I put all of them lined up in a row, but they are swell! FNFM

Granny J said...

Lane -- Not only did they fare well, but now Rick has his set of cuttings which is what it was all about in the first place!

Photo Blog Blog Top Sites Blog Directory for Prescott, AZ

Local Blogs - Blog Top Sites