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Thanksgiving cactus leans to left (and I'm not talking politics)

Posted by deanna_in_nh 5a/4b (My Page) on
Sun, Dec 1, 13 at 11:08

Or I guess it could just as easily be said to lean to the right.

Regardless, I was given a cutting from a very large Thanksgiving cactus. The stem is already woody and it stands about 7" tall with several arching branches. It was taken from one side of the original plant so it naturally has branches that mostly arch to one side, with a couple going straighter up. It has no balance whatsoever and I'm worried that both now and as it grows it will stress the trunk to have all the weight on one side.

I'm wondering if I can retrain any of those arches that point more upward to hang to the other side. If I hang light weights on them to lean them to the other side will that work? I know it works with bonsai, but I've not read anything on the internet about this much reshaping of a cactus. Because it's jointed at each leaf I'm concerned that it might eventually snap at one of those joints.

What are my options for getting this plant some balance? I tried to pot it with roots at an angle so the upward portion leaned in a way to even out the weight, but the plant has just settled in the soil back towards it's original placement.

Thanks for your help!


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Thanksgiving cactus leans to left (and I'm not talking politi

Is it making flowers/buds at this time?

Instead of creating a stress point with a weight, I might try to wedge something between the branches, to push some in the other direction.

Other ideas... You could rotate the pot so the slim side is getting the most light. You could put cuttings of your plant on the slim side, aiming in the other direction. Removing the lowest pieces on the side it's leaning toward would give the most immediate satisfaction from this. Or you could get more plants with ready roots and add them to the pot on the slim side. I like 3 'main chunks' in a hanging pot because, as you said, they tend to lean in 1 direction. 3 plants together:


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RE: Thanksgiving cactus leans to left (and I'm not talking politi

It was budding when it was given to me and is now producing many healthy fine new leaves. I did pick off some of the buds to reduce the stress of being divided during flowering. The new leaves are plentiful and look great. I already have the spare side facing the sun in the hopes that some of the new growth will want to migrate that way.

Your suggestions are great, but I'm worried that adding more plants to the other side won't get rid of the trunk stress on my existing plant. It would look better, for sure, but each trunk would still be holding up a weight mainly on one side. You said you do this often. Does that mean you have many old woody stems with growth only to one side that don't mind it? That would be good news!


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RE: Thanksgiving cactus leans to left (and I'm not talking politi

I didn't say anything about often, just that I like this particular pot the best of the TC's I have because the 3 plants fill the basket well. I think they look cool leaning out in 3 directions. None of these stems look old and woody yet. If in the future any look like they're getting heavy enough to break, I would remove some of the lowest foliage on the heavy side. When they are finished blooming (and it's warm enough,) I intend to do some serious trading, so these are in for some reductions even if they don't need it to prevent breaking.

I think there's still time to see some flowers if your plant is ready to make some, and allowed to do so. It's a long wait until this time next year.


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RE: Thanksgiving cactus leans to left (and I'm not talking politi

The growth won't really migrate. I would keep the sparse side to the window. The plant will eventually put up new shoots from the stem and they will go in that direction. A faster option is in a few months, make some more cuttings from it and stick them in the pot on that side-- and they will grow toward the light.


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RE: Thanksgiving cactus leans to left (and I'm not talking politi

Sorry but I just don't think this matters.

Should it grow lopsided in nature, I'd guess it'll just drop the branches that get too heavy. I guess I don't believe in trunk stress.

I have sometimes propped up a branch or division w/a big rock wedged into the mix to shift it or hold it in place.


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RE: Thanksgiving cactus leans to left (and I'm not talking politi

Can you post a picture?

In addition to facing the sparse side toward the window/light/sun (which will work very well over time), you could also re-pot the trunk in a more upright fashion next season (right around Mother's Day).

Josh


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RE: Thanksgiving cactus leans to left (and I'm not talking politi

These things root very easily. Just take off some of the branches and leaves and root them in the soil on the other side of the plant. It will take some of the weight off of the trunk while filling in the other side of the pot.


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RE: Thanksgiving cactus leans to left (and I'm not talking politi

Sounds like the general opinion is that it is unlikely to create any trunk stress, which is good news.

Here's a picture. I'll also post a picture of the new leaf buds, too, which I think are looking pretty good after its division and repotting.

I tried this last time repotting the trunk upwards, but it just settled to the side again, though not quite as much to the side as the roots indicated. I probably shouldn't call if "repotting" since it's the first pot since I received the division. If I repot it again in Spring I'll put it in a smaller pot as I just learned that they prefer to be root bound. It will be long while before it's root bound in its current pot!

I tried to root a Christmas cactus before but it just rotted, so please give me some confidence! Do I need rooting hormone? Perhaps last time I used too much water. I'm always nervous about things drying out when rooting and do better with the easy things that you just plop in a glass of water to get roots. Do I just put it in the soil and keep it the same dampness as the general mother plant?

Thanks again for the replies!


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RE: Thanksgiving cactus leans to left (and I'm not talking politi

New leaf buds.


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RE: Thanksgiving cactus leans to left (and I'm not talking politi

Oh, that's not nearly as extreme as I pictured-- light will fix that when you put the bare side to the window. It looks like something is already emerging.

As far as rooting, no hormone is needed. At home, we always rooted in plain water. But it could have been that your soil was too heavy and wet and bacterial or fungal issues set in. Your TG wants to dry out between waterings a bit, and I've found cuttings just like the same treatment. I'd also experiment with one that has fresh air roots if you can find a piece.


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RE: Thanksgiving cactus leans to left (and I'm not talking politi

It sounds like you've received good advice on your lean. However, if you really want the plant to thrive, you'll want to consider a bark based mix. Lots of discussion here and on the Cacti and Succulents forum. Also, somewhere in all those posts is a discussion on the desirability of a woody plant like yours. It was grown bonsai style. :-)


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RE: Thanksgiving cactus leans to left (and I'm not talking politi

I think that's a fantastic looking plant! PG's idea of gently wedging a rock against the base would probably be all it needs to be upright. I probably wouldn't take many cuttings from that now since hopefully it will make some flower buds soon. Since it's not yet, I wonder if it's in a room where you have bright lights on after sunset?

"...prefer to be root bound."
No plant prefers that. What is happening is root rot in pots of stuff that has no air pockets in it, and takes forever to dry out. As long as one has a chunky, porous, airy mix, and doesn't constantly pour water in there (or allow it to sit in a drip saucer,) the pot size is irrelevant. It can take some doing to figure out what kind of soil goes well with the kind of plant person you are. It sounds like you love to water them often?

"Do I need rooting hormone?"
I agree with J, no hormone needed. In the case of wanting a more full pot like this, I would stick any cuttings in the pot with the mama plant, aimed in the other direction slightly. Just use a knife to make a slit & slip the end that was attached to the mama plant in there, doesn't seem to matter how far, as long as at least most of the lowest section is under the surface.

"Perhaps last time I used too much water."
Probably. A *succulent* cutting with no roots can't absorb water, it can only rot. When taking the cuttings, let them sit in the air overnight for the cut part to heal/seal. This should prevent fungus/bacteria from being able to 'get in,' prevents further loss of moisture, and definitely notifies that piece of plant that it needs to grow some roots "in search of moisture, not because it is adjacently present."

When placed within the roots of an already-growing plant, I have much better luck with propagating (outside of the realm of the glass of water you mentioned, which does work well for many non-succulent, leafy plants.) The mama plant prevents the soil from staying too moist around the cutting even while watering as usual. This is the only way I've had luck with Begonia cuttings in particular. I can't NOT hover over a pot with nothing but cuttings either. That usually results in loving them to death as you described. I successfully forget about those tucked under mama plants and haven't had any TC cuttings fail this way, in pots with other TC's and completely different plants that 'need' something leaning out at the bottom in my strange plan to make every pot a mini tropical jungle.

Knowing whether cuttings require drying (callousing) and which should go immediately in water/moist soil is the 1st step to success, glad you asked.

The one pot of TC cuttings I tried without any existing-roots plants in the pot was this one. Having seen pics of people doing them this way, and knowing how I hover over a pot of cuttings, I chose to lay them mostly flat on the surface. This worked well & is a blooming plant around here somewhere. I lost track of which was which while moving things around so much over the summer.

The cuttings may even wilt a bit, but unless/until there are some roots, adding water won't help. Misting the surface as you see roots begin to form can add a slight amount of moisture without making things soggy. This is the one instance in which I think bottom-watering can be helpful. Until roots penetrate a pot of loose soil, pouring water on it can compact it unnecessarily.


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RE: Thanksgiving cactus leans to left (and I'm not talking politi

such great info. Impressive that you got such great roots on plants just lying on the surface. On my lopsided friend there is one larger lower branch and I've decided it is an ideal candidate for rooting on the other side of the cactus this spring. I feel much better about trying to root it with all the good advice here! Thank you very much.


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RE: Thanksgiving cactus leans to left (and I'm not talking politi

such great info. Impressive that you got such great roots on plants just lying on the surface. On my lopsided friend there is one larger lower branch and I've decided it is an ideal candidate for rooting on the other side of the cactus this spring. I feel much better about trying to root it with all the good advice here! Thank you very much.


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RE: Thanksgiving cactus leans to left (and I'm not talking politi

" Impressive that you got such great roots on plants just lying on the surface." TY for saying so, but those pieces did that on their own because I managed to leave them alone, mostly. These plants can even make roots in the air while still attached (as many succulents do, part of their charm.) Pic from January.


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RE: Thanksgiving cactus leans to left (and I'm not talking politi

What?! TOO COOL! I'm going to watch for that in mine and try to take advantage of it. Were they kept humid, as in should I mist mine more?

Opp girl, you're pretty doggone awesome with house plants. Woo hoo!

P.S. I must ask, you apparently love purple. Does it have anything to do with the college you went to?


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RE: Thanksgiving cactus leans to left (and I'm not talking politi

If you rotate the pot 180 degrees, it will be leaning toward the right :)


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RE: Thanksgiving cactus leans to left (and I'm not talking politi

Leans left and right. Maybe it's my Libertarian cactus?

Ooo. I know. It's my Lobbyist cactus. Doesn't care the side to which it leans as long as it gets what it wants (sun, water, love, a companion on the other side of the pot…). If only that was all the other lobbyists wanted, too.


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RE: Thanksgiving cactus leans to left (and I'm not talking politi

Glad you liked the pics, and thanks for the kind compliments. There are definitely much more awesome plants out there, I'm just trying to follow the great examples of folks around here (and on C/S forum.) Thanks to their great enabling so I would first want the plants, then guidance to keep them doing well, I'm extremely happy with the results this bloom-season too. So thanks to all of those folks again!

AFAIK, that's just what they do (make aerial roots.) I'm sure others will weigh in about if it happens on their plants or not. For cuttings, I've seen hundreds of pics like that, so I know that part's nothing unusual. That's why 'they' recommend to lay they flat on the surface so they don't rot before they can make the roots. (And watching them form is way cool, so why not?!) It's pretty common for propagating succulents. If you think that's cool, you should see what some Kalanchoe leaves do - making babies on the edges, either while still attached to the mama, or after it's cut off, or both.

"Were they kept humid"
I don't know what the humidity is in here, but more humid than when using central heat system. My hair doesn't usually get static.

"should I mist mine more?"
I never mist any plants. To increase humidity through this, you need a genuine atomizer, and to sit there squeezing the ball-trigger every minute or so, all day.

"you apparently love purple. Does it have anything to do with the college you went to?" I do, and no, I've always felt that way. The 1st purple outfit I remember, I was 4, it was velvet - LOL!


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RE: Thanksgiving cactus leans to left (and I'm not talking politi

I never bother to mist anything since like Purple says, you'd need to sit there all day to make a difference.

So it's not in this TC thread, but in another one I guess I mentioned using the aerial roots to help reroot the plant lol. I thought it was this one, but I just looked back and didn't see it. So yes, mine do it too-- it is just what they do :)


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