Please Help Me Save a Pitiful Thanksgiving Cactus!

aharriedmom(8B FL Sunset 28)August 17, 2012

My husband's uncle works out of town and is gone for a week or so at a time. I've been eying a Thanksgiving cactus that lives at his house, because its pot got broken quite a while ago and it has gotten more & more pathetic looking. I've watered it almost every time I've gone over (not that often) because its been bone dry.

My MIL is in town and staying at the uncle's (her brother) and last night she said for me to just take it. So I did.

I will likely have to give it back where it may go for well over a week without being watered so I need to take that into consideration when I choose a potting medium. I also worry about the fact that it's extremely unlikely that it will ever be fertilized, unless I get over there - which will be much less often over the winter. So what should I do for this poor plant?

(there possibly is an option that I refuse to give it back unless someone vows to take better care of it)

See? No pot.

And so you know it's not my horribly neglected plant, here's one of mine. It also needs to be repotted but I potted it up a few months ago and it seems to be fairly happy with the situation for now. (but with the picture I realize how dusty it is and how much it needs a bath. Embarrassing.)

(that's a baby peace lily in a yogurt cup next to it)

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Hello HM.

Actually, the uncle's TC doeesn't look too bad.

During summer, TC's needs bright light, regular drinks and fertilizer.

Is it possible you can keep in a shady spot, outdoors? Toni

    Bookmark   August 17, 2012 at 10:57AM
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that segments in a center look too dark. can you check if they are soft for possible rot. or maybe they are just old.

wash of all the soil, trim all rotten roots,sprinkle w/cinnamon.
Josh recommends to pot holiday cacti in small bark(thank you Josh)
I potted mine in Schultz Orchid Mix(found in Walmart). it looks very healthy now. its outside in a shade. if you decide to put outside acclimate first.


    Bookmark   August 17, 2012 at 2:29PM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

I don't think the first pic looks so bad either.

Unless that center part that looks corky is going soft; otherwise, it just looks a bit rough.

Pls. tell me that tin foil is temporary, otherwise there will be drainage problems.

Not sure what the point of repotting someone else's plant is if they're not going to water it. For now, it doesn't need to be watered every week, can probably got 10 days just fine, if indoors.

But if they won't be watering it, I wouldn't put it in more porous mix (which will dry out even faster).

I don't wish to sound rude, & I hope I didn't misunderstand anything here.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2012 at 5:03PM
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aharriedmom(8B FL Sunset 28)

Toni - if it goes back, it's possible that they would leave it outside in the summer. I'd worry it might get forgotten and left out in a freeze. It I keep it, it will have to stay inside because I have too many bugs outside and too many houseplants inside to risk bringing outside plants in.

Inna - the segments in the center are just old, not rotted. I have Schultz Orchid BARK - not the mix. I have a cutting off my plant which is in the straight (cut down to smaller size) bark and it seems to be doing well, I noticed baby leaves growing on all the segments the other day.
Is the actual MIX better than the straight bark? (I do want to repot my two more mature TC plants and am looking for the perfect medium)

Pirate Girl - no worries about coming across as rude, I understand. I did mention in the OP that I was worried about which medium to choose because of the fact that they might not water it regularly.

The foil, that it is just sitting on, is how it's been kept for months after the pot broke (from what I am told). If fact the way it's pictured, with the foil and plastic container, is how it's been living. It's entirely possible if I said, "listen - this must be watered more regularly or it's going to die," that they would just tell me to keep it.

My MIL watered it on Thursday when she got into town, I brought it home Thursday night. I haven't watered it yet to hopefully make it easier for me to get the old soil off the roots.

Whatever "plant stuff" I can't get to this weekend will have to be put on an indeterminate hold. My kids start school on Monday, including my oldest who has been working with my husband. Once they start school, it's back to work for me (with my husband) and then I start my classes on Thursday - 13 hours this coming term.

Sorry I didn't answer yesterday - we were school supply shopping for the three oldest. The middle & high school (OMG, my oldest is in high school this year!) didn't give out supply lists until the orientations, which were on Thursday evening.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2012 at 8:18AM
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aharriedmom(8B FL Sunset 28)

posting simply to try to get my silly zone information to stay put and not disappear with every post.


    Bookmark   August 18, 2012 at 8:26AM
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Aharriedmom. So, you're aren't going to keep the TC? I don't understand. lol

Will your uncle? want it back? If he doesn't take care of his plants, and your mom gave you permission to take it, why not just keep it?

I know what you mean about bugs..We have a zillion ants, but my plants still go outside..Lots of work in autumn before plants are brought back inside..
Ants are bad enough, but earwigs and spiders are too much. Especially thick-legged spiders.

Actually, you should be happy your children are still school age. I wish my son was back in school..if only time would

How long has your uncle had the TC? Since the center isn't soft, there's really no problem. Some of my older TC's have the same woody parts..comes w/age.

My TC's stay out until the first or second frost..Buds form..Once they're established, 'usually by late Sept/Oct' they're brought indoors and placed in a cool, whatever-sun-we-happen-to-get room. So, cool/cold, 'temperatures' won't hurt, unless it drops under 32F.

Good luck, Toni

    Bookmark   August 18, 2012 at 10:03AM
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aharriedmom(8B FL Sunset 28)

Ha, if I repot it and it does well, I certainly won't want to give it back.

We have fireants, don't like them - but the spiders don't bother me as I figure they're eating the bugs I don't want. Somehow a daddy longlegs got inside and lives near a bunch of my plants. It sort of freaks out my youngest son but he's not doing any harm.

As far as the uncle & the plant - I'm not sure how long he's had it. IIRC, it belonged to one of his sisters at one point.

I guess I could have some TCs outside and bring them in to sit on the washing machine on below freezing nights - chances of bugs would be much less and we don't get TOO many below freezing nights. I don't know, though, because I have a few other plants I'm going to attempt to overwinter this year - I may try some outside and brought in on freezing nights. I might run out of room on my washer. lol

I do have one little leaf segment start that's been outside for a while. It hasn't done much but it was in a way too shady area. For the heck of it, I stuck it in the nook of one of my crepe myrtles, it was still alive Thursday but I didn't check on it yesterday or yet today.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2012 at 5:01PM
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Mom...If you can't leave your, 'not your uncle's,' lol, TC outside, then it will need short days to set flower buds.

I fear Daddy Longlegs, but not as much as the thick bodied/leg spiders we get..Some are as large as a mouse..'body, not including legs.' Yuck!!!

Fire ants..Since they bite, I don't blame you one bit. I've never seen Fire Ants..we sometimes see red ants, but they don't bite.

Lol, on running out of room on washer..I certainly understand. lol.

TC's don't need much light. They grow in trees or rocks shaded by tree foliage. Humidity is another story.
It's funny..when one is trying to root TC, seems to take a watched pot.
Broken segments fell in nearby plants and rooted. I didn't notice at first, and let it be. Eventually, these cuttings will go in individual pots, but for now they can stay where they are. Disturbing might be more of a shock than leaving where they appear to be happy.

I hope you can keep the TC...Maybe uncle won't notice, and since you've been given permission, it's not stealing. Toni

    Bookmark   August 20, 2012 at 12:17PM
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aharriedmom(8B FL Sunset 28)

I've just learned about the short days to set flowers. That would explain why mine have never bloomed in the two years I've had them - they live in the living room. Covering them (or however I darken their world) is something I'm going to need to figure out soon so perhaps I can get them to bloom for me this year.

And yes, I agree about the "forever" - I just posted in a thread on the cacti forum that my starts seemed to do nothing for weeks and weeks and weeks. They're showing growth now, too. (I have the starts in straight fir bark)

    Bookmark   August 20, 2012 at 10:02PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Weeeelll, I've had different specimens of this plant over the years and have never had a problem with them blooming no matter where I had them; upstairs, downstairs, all around the house, as they say. I've never covered them nor given them any kind of special treatment. That goes for recent plants as well as a 40 or 50 year old plant that I inherited.

I just make sure that they always have plenty of sunlight.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2012 at 10:39PM
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aharriedmom(8B FL Sunset 28)

Huh. My plants have always sat in either a north or south window (depending on time of year), yet I've never seen them bloom.

Of course, I just figured they were a difficult-to-bloom plant and never worried about it. Now that I see all these pictures of the TCs on this site, I want mine to bloom! :D I don't even have any idea what color either of the two mature plants is (I guess I have three, if I count the uncle-in-law's).

    Bookmark   August 21, 2012 at 2:31PM
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Rhizo, I know a few people who do nothing more than water their TC yet they bloom.

Unfortunately, watering, fertiizing and sun never begot my TC's to bloom..So count your blessings.

Mom, think I mentioned my TC's are outside until first/second frost..buds form...once temps are 40's or so, TC's come in, placed in a sunny area..Buds take time to open depending on temps..

Buds open faster when a room is warm/hot, but they also fade faster..So, thankfully, I have a semi-cool sunny room, and blooms remain on TC's longer.

Of what I read, everyday at, say 5:P.M., place a dark clothe over TC's, then once sun is out remove clothe.
This needs to be done daily for 3-4 weeks or until first sign of buds.
Never tried it, but that's what people say work. Toni

    Bookmark   August 21, 2012 at 2:50PM
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