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Christmas Catus

Posted by ed1315 (My Page) on
Tue, Dec 31, 13 at 16:01

My negleted little Christmas Catus put on quite a show this year. I rearly water it, but when I saw the buds forming, I gave it a good soaking!


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Christmas Catus

That's gorgeous!!! What are your secrets? Where do you have it sitting? I just bought this big monster of a thing from my grocery store this year after suffering gardening withdrawal. I'm new to these things so any tips would be wonderful! Yours looks so healthy!


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RE: Christmas Catus

I very seldom water it. usually it is dry as a bone! It stays in a inclosed porch (sometimes just above freezing) with windows facing south.


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RE: Christmas Catus

Just so you know, while your flowers are gorgeous, these are tropical jungle cactus (not arid land or desert cactus), they need water frequently & a fair amount at that.

I grew up where they originate, this time of year they get frequent rain, even some torrential rains now (covered right now in international newspapers).

Am surprised they even set bud w/ so little water.

FYI, the recommendation to withhold watering them for a month is for AFTER the bloom, not before.

If you were to water them regularly, they might put on twice the flower show for ya (not that we could stand that much MORE beauty, but still).

Pinkgnome: pls take the foil off ASAP, or they won't drain right & have trouble.


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RE: Christmas Catus

Hi Pirate Girl, I agree that I should water more often. I guess I am just too lazy but sometimes I get lucky ;>)


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RE: Christmas Catus

Pirate girl
Where do they originate from. Saw some in lowland Costa Rica growing in a tree . Couldn't get close to them due to water but must have been some kind of cactus
made me wonder about the 12 hour darkness rule as obviously Costa Rica daylength would be the same year around what would vary considerably at least in the area
would be rainfall as it in a "Dry forest" area
gary


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RE: Christmas Catus

Hi Gary,

They're said to originate in the mountains just outside Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, very hot & tropical, w/ Dec./Jan. being its rainy season.

Why assume Costa Rica's day length would be the same year round? I'd asssume there'd be seasonal fluctuations, which I assume would be the case in Rio as well.


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RE: Christmas Catus

Very pretty, I love the color.


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RE: Christmas Catus

For good book-keeping, since no one has mentioned it, this is the Thanksgiving Cactus, Schlumbergera truncata.

Karen, the assumption that Costa Rica's daylight hours are the same is because the country is close to the equator...which means pretty much the same daylength every day. Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) is different of course, being further south. Right now (just past their "midsummer"), they're enjoying about 13 hours of daylight, as you know.

Josh


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RE: Christmas Catus

That is really pretty, mines are taking a break, im expecting more blooms in march/april. I give kuds to the baking sun mines were in outside for such exellent blooms, i am not good for watering either. I think they thrive on neglect, yet being from forest, appreciate more water than other cacti.......


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RE: Christmas Catus

They don't thrive on neglect, that's for certain. They survive *in spite of* neglect.

Most folks grow them in unsuitable potting mixes that hold too much moisture. And, thus, the "neglect" of not watering very often actually just allows the plant to not rot in the poorly draining soil. But that shouldn't be confused with "thriving" by any stretch of the imagination.

Josh


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RE: Christmas Catus

I haved to contest that Josh. I have my cactus in a homemade well draining mix that includes liberous amounts of perlite and orchid mix which contains tree chunks and other draining material, so mine are well drained. They are not very thirsty plants in my house, and i let them dry out in between watering. But I do haved to agree that they would like more care than people often give them. I also find that they flower profusely when kept drier in fall and winter, this is my experience and i cannot prove this for everyone. I also feel this is a matter of personal experience, and that every plant is different and in different conditions


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RE: Christmas Catus

I have had a lot of luck neglecting house plants. Many people often over water and kill their plants. Also I have brought plants to bloom this way. Here Is one I posted about last September.


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RE: Christmas Catus

Teen, all I can say is that you need to be able to back up your claims when you make them. It's the rainy season in Brazil right now....

Josh


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RE: Christmas Catus

It's hard to read anecdotes without plugging in one's own thoughts/methods, which may not match that of the person telling the anecdote at all.

As a prolific overwaterer in constant recovery, I usually translate neglect to meaning the plant was allowed to dry all the way out. That is usually necessary (not neglect, to avoid rotting roots especially during winter,) in a not-optimal soil mix, which most people have but think they don't. Those that know they have not-optimal soil and let plants dry on purpose might have a much more harsh meaning attached to the word neglect.

The only way to see the difference is to try a soil mix that has oxygen in it at all times, not just when it's dry. When plants can get oxygen and moisture at the same time, "neglect on purpose" isn't necessary.

No plant from a tropical rainforest would ever experience being bone dry in nature. Even in periods of little rain, there's guttation dripping, high humidity, prolific dew every morning, and the decomposition of detritis caught in the roots creates/releases moisture. The 'cactus' part of the common name is terribly misleading, as far as using that word to determine care for epiphytic jungle plants.

So some would look at these plants, read these anecdotes, and think these plants weren't neglected at all, just given the appropriate care in conjunction with the soil they're in.


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RE: Christmas Catus

Precisely, Tiffany, precisely.

Josh


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RE: Christmas Catus

Well, this is my experience, no, i cannot back it up to say it will work for everyone else, this is just what find :)


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RE: Christmas Catus

Well, like I said, if you can't back it up, you probably shouldn't start your response:
"I haved [sic] to contest that Josh." If there's something in one of the three statements that I made that you can refute as inaccurate, then I'm open to debate and/or correction. Otherwise, starting a post in such a fashion seems trifling and oppositional without justification.

Josh


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RE: Christmas Catus

Wow! can't believe there is mud slinging in this forum, but that is OK. I only post in this forum to show off a a plant that I have had luck with. Peace......


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RE: Christmas Catus

It's a beautiful plant, Ed!! Obviously whatever you're doing is right for whatever conditions that plant is living in, otherwise you'd be posting a dead plant pic titled "help!!!". The plant is blatantly telling you in its colorful own way that it's happy. Good job, Ed and thanks for sharing!


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RE: Christmas Catus

Ed, you obviously haven't been on this forum long...This is nothing, just stick around a while :)

Christopher


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RE: Christmas Catus

:-) Ha! Ed, please do stick around and keep posting awesome pics.
I didn't see any mudslinging going on....just some words of wisdom for our younger contributors.

Josh


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RE: Christmas Catus

Yeah, Christmas / Thanksgiving (or Easter) Cactus are not cactus at all (not the desert drought-tolerant members of the Cactaceae family we all mostly mean when we say "cactus").
Edit: yes, they are cactus, corrected later, sorry for misinfo.

People grow plants successfully in all sorts of weird conditions. (I use the word "successfully" very loosely here, to mean that the plant has not died and maybe even looks decent). Even flowering cannot be viewed as proof positive that conditions are perfect because sometimes plants will shoot out a flower when they detect they are dying. This is because plants are programmed to spread their seeds for its species to survive. Not saying that's the case for the OP's plant, but it's a real thing in general, so be careful when you see beautiful flowers.

I encourage those who are open, even and perhaps especially those who have been growing these for a while, to just google "[botanical plant name] care" and read SEVERAL good sources. But just the fact that the plant's home is Brazil should give people who water once a month pause.

Using the correct botanical name here is important because care is different for the three most common holiday cacti.

This post was edited by greentoe357 on Sun, Jan 5, 14 at 9:59


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RE: Christmas Catus

Sorry to hear that some folks seem to find that differences of opinions & disagreements are considered mudslinging. I thought they were just disagreements; to me that's not mudslinging at all. Worth noting: nothing mean or nasty, just disagreeing.

I don't believe the care is different, at least btwn the 2 TC & CC.

Not sure there are several good sources for the care of these. We tend to rely on one particular one here, given its more comprehensive nature, drawings & excellent explanation & manner of distinguishing btwn the 3.

To your earlier point, yes, they ARE true cacti, it's just they're tropical, jungle cacti rather than arid land.


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RE: Christmas Catus

Jungle cacti are indeed cacti, members of the family Cactaceae. It is misleading and just false to say that they are not.

Christopher


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RE: Christmas Catus

Sorry, it was in my mind for some reason TC and CC are not true cacti - thanks for the correction.

> I don't believe the care is different, at least btwn the 2 TC & CC.

They flower at different times in the season, so causing them to flower will be different. Easter cactus flowers only once a year and is much more particular in the care it wants and has a nasty pouting habit if it doesn't get it - this is different from the other two that are more tolerant. I only grow CC, so this is from other sources.

Perhaps I have too much time on my hands to read multiple sources, but there are disagreements as to holiday cactus care, mostly relating to how to water during different life stages of the plant and how to induce flowers (how dark and long the nights have to be, whether temp needs to be dropped or not).


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RE: Christmas Catus

The source you've been reading about EC, I question. These can bloom at any time of year, though most reliably around Easter in most places in the US, supposedly. EC seems a little more equipped to handle dryness, not wilting like a TC, but will become soft if it does get too dry. I treat them both the same, regarding water, though TC can handle more sun and seems more thirsty in general.

About 3 weeks ago, I chopped up my EC into about 15 cuttings. Here's one that looks like it's making a flower. The bud wasn't there when I stuck this piece in this pot. If so, that's a trick I don't think TC could do.

14 hours of darkness at night is what makes TC bloom (assuming cultural conditions are acceptable.) No more complicated than that.

I can't find (nor have I seen) an .edu or similarly reliable reference on EC blooms. Anyone have one?


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RE: Christmas Catus

.......When I said that I have to on test that, it just meant that what you said doesn't account for every plant, neither does what i say..... I believe "my plant" does fine with small amounts of water that force it to bloom profusely


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RE: Christmas Catus

There was no reason to "contest" that, Teen.
I didn't say anything about "every plant." I very specifically qualified my statement by prefacing with "Most folks...." rather than "All." A simple glance at the Threads about Holiday Cacti at this Forum will reveal that most folks - not all - are growing these plants in unsuitable potting mixes....and, thus, they come here asking why their plants aren't thriving. The fact is that these plants come from a rainy part of the world, and they thrive with frequent watering *when potted in an appropriate mix.*

Josh


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RE: Christmas Catus

I believe it was greenman28 over a year ago who suggested repotting my EC in a fine orchid bark mix when it was losing segments at a rapid rate despite my loving overwatering care. Now, all my EC, TC, and CC are in the mix and I don't worry if I'm watering too much. Using this mix allows for draining. As soon as a new EC or TC is acquired it is repotted in the mix making sure all the old potting soil is removed from the roots before repotting. This mix has also been used and has worked well for some of my other plants. I've learned so much by all those who post here.
My plants are happy and thriving. But I also think that 'many folks' have their own special adjustments when it comes to care. IMHO


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RE: Christmas Catus

Schlumbergeras are master survivors. I've seen them in blazing hot sun and dry as a bone. Leaves scorched and paper thin. Only watered when it rains. Somehow they survive and bloom. My logic says they bloom because they stress, not because they are happy.
They should never have been called "cacti" even though they are of the same family. Some people get confused with the word "cacti" and assume they don't need watering...!
I can never understand why some people bother having container plants and don't water them. Surely when you spend money on acquiring it, you also find out what's best for it, and care for its basic needs....Not So...?

This post was edited by fredman on Tue, Jan 7, 14 at 15:45


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RE: Christmas Catus

Hmm... I would think they bloom because the atmosphere dictates it's time to do so, and they are healthy/vigorous enough to complete the task. Following the logic you proposed, all TC's would bloom just before dying.

Succulent means (among many other things,) a plant that retains moisture in times of scarcity. PG has reminded us the dry time for these plants is naturally right after blooming.

But Fredman, I so agree, they are survivors, and it's a shame the ink used to incorrectly label the TC's as CC's can't be used to inform people to not let it bake dry like a desert-type cactus. There's risk of bud drop, and definitely slower growth.


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RE: Christmas Catus

Ha Ha... Yeah I left myself open there so I will take that swipe like a man :-) What I should've said is they bloom even though they are under stress...
I'm limited on horticultural knowledge, but my logic says to me if you starve it of moisture, it will conserve its vitality in order to survive. Come bloom time it will do so out of stress, and not because of vitality.... and yes if you keep this up it will eventually die just after flowering.
As PG rightly stated..."If you were to water them regularly, they might put on twice the flower show for ya"

These plants never have a scarcity of water where they grow naturally. They always have some moisture available to them.

This post was edited by fredman on Tue, Jan 7, 14 at 22:09


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RE: Christmas Catus

Hi Purp,

Don't mean to pick nits, or play semantics, but I feel the need to clarify this statement of yours:

"PG has reminded us the dry time for these plants is naturally right after blooming."

Not quite 'naturally right after'.

If that were to be taken literally, as in that's what they do where they originate, that would make it smack dab in the middle of their rainy season (which is right now Dec., Jan.).

I know this because I grew up where they originate & their rainy season can even include torrential rains.

What I said was something more like:

the recommended time to withhold water is AFTER bloom, not before.

No problem Purp, I just don't wish anyone to mistake our meanings, either yours or mine.


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RE: Christmas Catus

PG, you're right. I didn't have what you said right in my mind.
You said:
"FYI, the recommendation to withhold watering them for a month is for AFTER the bloom, not before."
And
"Dec./Jan. being its rainy season."
It meshed together into one wrong thing in my mind. TY for fixing what I said!

Went back to read your comments again, and it's not clear, do you do this - withhold water after blooming?


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RE: Christmas Catus

Interesting...

"The plant is not a true cactus and is not quite as drought tolerant as the name infers. However, it is a succulent plant and can store a reasonable quantity of water in the leaves. Water thoroughly when the top half of the soil in the pot feels dry to the touch. The length of time between watering will vary with the air temperature, amount of light, rate of growth and relative humidity. During the summer, water so that the soil is continually moist. When fall arrives, water the plant only well enough to prevent wilting.
During the month of October, give the plant no water. Cautiously resume watering in November, but don't let stems get flabby from over watering. If the atmosphere is dry, place pot on a tray of pebbles. Keep pebbles moist with water in the tray.
After plant completes blooming, let it rest by withholding water for six weeks. When new growth appears, re-pot and top-dress with fresh soil. Resume watering to keep soil fairly moist"


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RE: Christmas Catus

Hi Fredman,

Interesting, but am not sure correct or reliable. Could you pls. cite the source, which is customary practice when citing a quote like that. Personally I wouldn't consider following it w/out a source.

Also, I see an immediate problem in this advice extracted from above:

'During the summer, water so that the soil is continually moist.'.

If that were done, I believe the plants would rot; it would be too moist in my opinion.

Hey Purp,

I only have youngsters now, no bloomers, my last TC plant was pretty small & crashed sometime after Hurricane Sandy (I think it was).

Yes, I USED to withhold water for a month after bloom, sometimes even a bit more; I'd wait to see the first new growth after post-bloom rest & THEN I'd resume watering.

What I used to have I think was TC (white w/ magenta edges, gorgeous).

Right now I only grow young True CC cuttings (looking for the best spot in my home). I think they're too small/young to bloom this year.


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RE: Christmas Catus

Sorry PG. Should've done that - here it is...

http://www.horticare.net/PDF Files/UsefulGardeningInfo/CHRISTMAS CACTUS CARE AND INFORMATION.pdf

I don't understand why the recommendation to withhold water. Do they have a dry time where they naturally grow? Where they grow in the tropical jungle they surely always have moisture available to them...

This post was edited by fredman on Thu, Jan 9, 14 at 5:39


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RE: Christmas Catus

The source is a landscape company. They've incorrectly ID'd the plant in their own pic, using a mis-spelled synonym, not a currently valid botanical epithet, and fails to mention the most common color = red. S. bridgesii is a synonym of S. x buckleyii. The TC plant in the pic is S. truncata.

I disagree with the advice pasted, I've done nothing different to my plants regarding water at any time of year (water when pretty dry.) None have rotted in any way, or not grown or not bloomed. I don't know where all of the weirdness and strange rituals come from regarding TC.

Peaty potting soil is probably what these strange instructions are designed to cope with, not a truly porous, airy mix. When the buds start to form, suddenly people pay way too much attention & add too much water, out of love of course. By the time the blooms are finished, it needs to dry out to heal from how it's started to rot. Maybe something like, "Well if it's a cactus I better let it dry out sometime." Or maybe just since it's not as interesting while not blooming, it goes back to being 'neglected' (necessary to not rot roots in airless peat.)

It may just be that these plants take a break and use much less water on average in a house in Jan/Feb, so those watering on a schedule might develop this instruction. I couldn't begin to say how much less water these plants use vs. the height of summer, There's too many pots to remember the last time each was watered. I just check all of the plants a few times a week, water the ones that seem dry.

Josh should be able to tell you anything you want to know about CC that may be different from TC.

PG, did you ever experiment and keep watering one normally to compare? I would be happy to send you a few stems of each of the diff colors I have (when it warms up of course.) I don't think my little CC's are going to bloom either.


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RE: Christmas Catus

After the bloom, the plant undergoes a recuperation period of reduced activity. During that period, the plant uses less moisture....and so any excess moisture will stay longer in the potting mix, which can potentially lead to root-rot.

During the Summer, I do keep the potting mix evenly moist.

Josh


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RE: Christmas Catus

Excellent, TY Josh. Sounds like more evidence in favor of a porous mix if plants can stay healthy while not drying out during a time of rest. I'm more than sure these plants of mine are getting water much more often than monthly, definitely before any signs of wilt.


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RE: Christmas Catus

I don't want to sound like a goof, and please correct me if I'm wrong, but does it really matter whether it's rainy season in Brazil "right now"? The part of Brazil from which schlumbergera hails is in the southern hemisphere. They've just had their summer solstice and they are currently experiencing shortening days.
Wouldn't those in the northern hemisphere be more keen to water in emulation of Brazil's weather six months ago?


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RE: Christmas Catus

Purp-
I only pasted this on the subject of another interesting mention of withholding water (which was the point of our subject). Its not a scientific study on Schlumbergera. I don't understand why you would dismiss it as "weirdness and strange rituals". Sure they got they name wrong but its about Schlumbergera in general. Your "red" is included in the "fuschia". I think the general info is spot on (except for the water withholding that I don't think is necessary)
The only intention these people has is to supply basic info to the layman.
What exactly in their writing do you find "weird and strange"?

This post was edited by fredman on Tue, Jan 14, 14 at 19:41


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RE: Christmas Catus

Jonnie, it doesn't matter whether it's the rainy season now.
The point is that these plants hail from a part of the world where they receive copious moisture. Thus, these plants don't have a problem with frequent moisture - they only have a problem with a potting mix that holds excess moisture around the roots (which is something that isn't typically found in nature where they grow in the crooks of trees).

Josh


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RE: Christmas Catus

Fred, I'll let Tiffany explain what she found strange, of course, but I'd like to mention the information I find out of sorts.

First of all, these plants are Cacti - they're in the Cactus family, and in the subfamily, too.

Watering when the top half of the soil feels dry....eh? But what if the soil in the bottom half is still wet...you know, where the roots are? See, that's bad advice.

"watering will vary with the air temperature, amount of light, rate of growth and relative humidity." - ok, that's sound advice.

"During the summer, water so that the soil is continually moist." - I don't disagree with that, as long as the potting mix provides aeration with that moisture.

"When fall arrives, water the plant only well enough to prevent wilting." - again, only if the mix is water-retentive. If you under-water in the Fall, the buds may not develop as well or be as numerous. Not advice I would give.

"During the month of October, give the plant no water." - that's the most bizarre, weird, unsound piece of advice in the passage. First time I've ever heard such a thing. Never have I withheld water in October, and my CC is 35 years old now.

"After plant completes blooming, let it rest by withholding water for six weeks." - Whoa, hope it doesn't die in that time! That's longer than I'd *EVER* recommend. Reduce watering is the key - and for maybe 2 - 4 weeks max.

"When new growth appears, re-pot and top-dress with fresh soil." - top-dressing is an awful idea. Exacerbates compaction, salt build-up, and raising the soil level could very well rot the base of the plant. Toss this idea right out!

Anyhow, that's the view from here.

Josh


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RE: Christmas Catus

Yeah Josh I agree. No water and top dressing do qualify as "weird and strange"

The part that I found interesting is withholding water. Reduced watering sounds much more acceptable...

My apologies. I shouldn't have posted that link.

Here is a much better link...

http://cactus.biology.dal.ca/paulS/christmas/christmas.html


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RE: Christmas Catus

No worries, Fred, it's a good way to learn by comparing that source's information. A lot of the advice in the first link is based on the use of heavy, water-retentive mixes. But using those mixes with these plants is not a good practice in the first place.

The link that you just provided is my go-to page on the Holiday Cacti - it is excellent. As far as I can tell, very sound information.

Josh


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RE: Christmas Catus

Okay, I have obviously been outsmarted here.........

Personally, I believe that tender delicate care goes a long way with these plants, and that they are certainly happier being consistently watered, But I also believe being enphythites, they are used to drying out somewhat, I dont believe they are made for any potting mix, including orchid bark, so we cant totally go with conditions in there native environment because they are in potting mixes which customarly store more water, and If we give them water like they get in the forest, they will rot, I believe they need to somewhat dry out in potting mixes


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RE: Christmas Catus

TY Josh. I can't add to or improve your critiqué of the landscape link, except to ask a question. If the person who wrote the info does not know how long it would otherwise take a plant to dry, how much water it needs for the conditions in which it lives, how can a specific future watering (or NOT watering) schedule be prescribed?

I would consider any plant taking a month to dry in the likely extremely dry air of a heated home in most parts of the US this time of year, in extreme peril.

Fredman, when I said weirdness and strange rituals, I was referring to the amalgam of odd info out there in general about holiday cacti, in conjunction with the instructions about withholding water in particular in the link under discussion. I was vague about that, sorry.

The sheet from the landscape company is a good example of how doing something badly is worse than doing nothing at all. And that staying within the focus of your business/knowledge is what makes an entity reliable. Why would anyone seek house plant advice from a landscaping outfit? The fact that this advice exists in this context is weird and inappropriate IMHO. Why spread bad/incorrect info nobody expects you to have anyway? Why not ask your mechanic or bank teller?

I don't think it's necessary for you to apologize, but absolutely accepted. If you hadn't brought it up to discuss, there would be no chance for folks to supply specific, qualified disagreements. If you were following or interpreting the advice incorrectly, it's good to ask about it.

TG, obtaining info is not being outsmarted, it's being smart, educating yourself.

It sounds like you believe the concept that there is a difference in soil textures, and how plants respond to them, but not interested in experimentation for your own plants? When oxygen is not present, root function is compromised. If that's also while the moisture is present, it's going to be tough going. Folks aren't trying to tell you (or anyone) that your plants are doomed to fail, just that they could be safer, things could be easier, if one isn't worrying about rot/suffocation when watering a thirsty plant.

Using these principles, any potted plant should be most able to be at its' best in the captivity of a pot, assuming other factors (temp, light, PH, etc...) are acceptable. I have one watering scheme for all (non succulent/cacti) plants, water before they get too dry while inside, everybody gets a drink every 2-3 days outside. Easy peasy.

Here is a link that might be useful: The above link, clickable, *Care and recognition of holiday cacti*


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