A Constellation of Blooms

I am surrounded by stars.

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Schlumbergera stars.

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The blooms of dreams.

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They appear when needed most.

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Darkness is coming. Coldness is coming.

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But not here, in this room full of vibrant colors.

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I care for my own galaxy.

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It sends back the light from brighter time.

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In the form of flowers.

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FLOWER

Schlumbergera Secrets

Uncle!  Tio!  Lo Zio!
You can stop twisting my arm.
I’ll tell you my Schlumbergera secrets.

multiple cacti
multiple cacti

First secret:
They bloom from the ends. So if you want more blooms…
You need more ends. Three to five divisions off the main branch is best.
This means purging and pruning the leggy limbs.
They will branch out and produce more ends,
which means more blooms.

Less is more. Too many branches per stem means some don’t  bloom. It’s like having too many children.  The poor mama branch can’t give them all what they need to bloom.

Too many branches
Too many branches

I try to limit my branches to from three to five divisions and total branch length to about twelve segments. Leggy is ugly on a Schlumbergera. Think of a long Christmas cactus as a tall elf. That’s just wrong!  The branches can’t support the blooms, which hang low and are harder to see.

It’s best to do this after they bloom, but I do it for folks who see it now and want it now.

  • Twist off the excess pieces at a joint. If this scares you, cut with sharp scissors, but tearing is best.
  • Twist off at the joint.
    Twist off at the joint.
  • Purged segments should be shortened to root. About 3 links long is best.  Leave the pieces out to harden off and callus over for several days. Do not put in water. The will rot,  not root.
  • Ready for rooting
    Ready for rooting
  • Then put the callused pieces in rooting medium. Label these by color/name/ date.
  • I take requests on facebook and put the future parent’s name on the label.

Second secret:
They need to be outside during the summer in indirect sunlight.
I put some in full sun this year.
They let me know this was a mistake by wrinkling up and turning red.
A green, smooth Schlumbergera is a happy Schlumbergera.

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Third secret:
Feed them every few weeks with their water.
Do not over-water. They must be dry on top to get a drink.
But remember, this is a tropical plant not a desert plant.
The term “Cacti” is misleading.
That old saying about not watering them while they are blooming is nonsense.
Just don’t get carried away with water while they are blooming,
(Don’t argue.  “Old wives tell lies”)
Not watering and feeding a blooming Schlumbergera is like not feeding a pregnant woman because she has gained weight …Don’t try that at home, men.

Fourth secret:
Give them indirect sunshine and warmth while blooming,  but no air flow.
The buds and blooms drop off if they are near a vent or doorway.
It’s the shock of temperature changes.

Also, colors vary with temperatures. You may have two identical cacti in different temperatures and get different colors.

Clones of a different color.
Clones of a different color.

Surprise..There may also be two colors on one plant.  I have peach and white coming off the same branch.

Two colors on one branch.

Fifth  secret:
Turn, turn, turn…
They get uneven if you leave’um.

Oops! I hate it when that happens.
Oops! I hate it when that happens.

FINAL secret: Remove blooms as they wither, especially if there is a new bud beside them.

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P.S. Singing to them doesn’t hurt.

Follow the FLOWER!

Song of Schlumbergera

Schlumbergera, Schlumbergera,

How lovely are your flowers? (Sing chorus twice)

Schlumbergera(red/white)

You’re boring green, while others bloom.

When winter comes, you light the room.

Schlumbergera (peach)

Schlumbergera, Schlumbergera,

Schlumbergera truncata. (Hold the ….ah…tah…)

SECOND VERSE:

Schlumbergera, Schlumbergera,

You are the cacti favorite. (Sing twice)

Schlumbergera (true red)

In summer we, your care forget.

In fall we smile and savor it.

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Schlumbergera, Schlumbergera,

Schlumbergera truncata. ( Draw out ah….tah….)

THIRD VERSE:

Schlumbergera, Schlumbergera,

You are the star of winter. (Sing twice)

Schlumbergera (red/white)

Your colors glow and brighten us,

When winter temp’ tures frighten us.

Schlumbergera (gold)

Schlumbergera, Schlumbergera,

Schlumbergera truncata…

FOURTH VERSE:

Schlumbergera, Schlumbergera,

How varied are your colors?(Sing twice)

multiple cacti

There’s Golden Charm and and pinks and white,

Schlumbergera (gold)

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Schlumbergera (white)

and reds and peach. Oh, what a sight!

Schlumbergera(red/white)

Schlumbergera (peach)

Schlumbergera, Schlumbergera,

Schlumbergera truncata… (HOLD “ah” loudly and spread arms apart, while looking at them lovingly.)

This is my secret to getting them to bloom like this.

Sing with the FLOWER!