Saturday, 1 December 2007
Saturday Photo: December 1? It Must Be Time for Christmas Cactus
The end of the year is fast approaching, and my Christmas cactus is in bloom. Or rather, one of them is. I have two, one of which blooms before the other. The second has set buds and I’ll bring it up to the sunlight soon.
The plants are quite old: the first was a cutting from a neighbor at least 15 years ago, and the second my sister and her family gave us as a present perhaps 8 years ago. They’ve bloomed every year, and now I think I’ve got the trick down pat.
At first I followed Thalasso Cruso’s advice, which is to put them in a dark closet without water for the month of October and then bring them out into a sunny window. But then I learned that in the wild they bloom in response to length of day, the way chrysanthemums do. Now I wait as long as possible to bring them in: this year it was the third week in October since we didn’t have frost before then. One plant was ready to bloom at that point, but I stalled it by putting it in a room with less sunlight for a week or so. By the first of November it was bursting into bloom, though. The flowers were riotous for nearly three weeks, and a couple remain even now.
Next week I’ll switch plants, bringing the second one up from the basement to the living room. The first I'll put in a sunny window in a bedroom where electric light is on infrequently. Last year, it bloomed a second time, responding, I guess, to the length of day it perceived through the window.
They are lovely plants, whether they bloom once or twice, with their flowers that look like miniature fireworks displays.
Posted by Mary Soderstrom