Blooming Again?

My Schlumbergeras are now blooming for the second time since I brought them inside.

I wondered, it is the daylength that has encouraged them to start blooming again?

I consulted the US Navy’s charts on Duration of Daylight for my area.

My cacti were blooming like crazy between November first and ninth of 2017.

The daylength for those days was between 10 hours and 42 minutes to 10 hours and 28 minutes.

Late January daylength has been just over 10 hours. Hmmm? I expected these to be about the same.

Even my babies that just rooted and pieces in water are blooming.

It could not be a change in temperature, because even the cacti in my cold workshop are budding and blooming.

Just when you think you know a plant, it surprises you.




Purge after Blooming

Just when you thought you could stash your spent Schlumbergeras in the basement,

you have one more assignment.  You need to purge the excess foliage.

This is NOT the same as taking cuttings to root new plants.

I covered this last winter in the post,

In that case, you twist off healthy pieces that are three or more links long.

Purging is when you read the plant’s foliage to guide you on what should be removed.

I look for the shriveled sections and cut them off.

These plants have a form of triage.

When a shoot has too many branches to be supported, one gets bypassed and begins to die.

Cutting off the shriveled parts accelerates this process.

I cut all these pieces off of this one cactus.

You cannot tell it has been purged,

except that it is less cluttered and healthier in appearance.

before purge
after purge
removed pieces

Do not bother trying to revive and root these pieces unless it is a very special specimen that you only have one of.

I have tried various techniques. None have worked well for me.

You will be rewarded next year by taking this step now.

It is also a good time to shape up those lopsided plants.

If you can’t stand to toss a healthy branch in the compost,

dip it in a rooting hormone

and push the piece down in the soil around the mama plant.

Hey. It’s winter, you’re stuck inside. It’s an excuse to play with your plants indoors.



I Wish I Knew Their Secrets

It’s Schlumbergera truncata/Christmas cacti blooming time.  Well, actually I think it is early.

The GOLD came in first and is blooming profusely.

gold Schlumberegra truncata

The WHITE is also covered with blooms and buds.

white Schlumbergera truncata

The SALMON colored is about at its peak also.

salmon Schlumbergera truncata

The FUCHSIA is the brightest ever, but one-sided. Oops!

fuchsia Schlumbergera truncata

The PINK is tumbling over because of so many blooms.

pink Schlumbergera truncata

It’s the REDS  and Light Pinks that are struggling.

red Schlumbergera truncata

They look a little dehydrated. They have fewer blooms.

There’s a problem. Some of them changed. The bottom half to be exact. The “Shop” group.

I had them in two different locations. I watered and fed both sets the same like a good scientist should.

The variable was not as much the amount of sun, but the time of day that they got sun.

None got much direct sun because they were all under an overhang most of the time.

The struggling group got afternoon hours, the thriving group got evening hours of sun.

That hypothesis makes sense, but I have another.

The group by the entryway got more attention.  A plant?  Needs attention?

This may surprise some of you, but plants are living things.

They process and respond to their environment. They communicate with each other.

I can read some of their signs like wilting, drooping and color changes.

I cannot however perceive their chemical signals.

The needs of the downstairs group were not met in some way.

I turned them less, rearranged them less, pruned them less.  It shows.

They have fewer buds, smaller buds and less color.

Maybe you had better check on your plants more often.

Turn them around, pull a leaf or two, maybe a kind word…

I have been misting the sick ones and giving them “banana water.” Now there’s a secret!




A Constellation of Blooms

I am surrounded by stars.


Schlumbergera stars.


The blooms of dreams.


They appear when needed most.


Darkness is coming. Coldness is coming.


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


I care for my own galaxy.


It sends back the light from brighter time.


In the form of flowers.



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.


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.

IMG_6659IMG_6660 IMG_6661

P.S. Singing to them doesn’t hurt.

Follow the FLOWER!

Song of Schlumbergera

Schlumbergera, Schlumbergera,

How lovely are your flowers? (Sing chorus twice)


You’re boring green, while others bloom.

When winter comes, you light the room.

Schlumbergera (peach)

Schlumbergera, Schlumbergera,

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


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.


Schlumbergera, Schlumbergera,

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


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…


Schlumbergera, Schlumbergera,

How varied are your colors?(Sing twice)

multiple cacti

There’s Golden Charm and and pinks and white,

Schlumbergera (gold)

Enter a caption

Schlumbergera (white)

and reds and peach. Oh, what a sight!


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!