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, https://floweralley.org/2016/12/30/in-with-the-new/

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.

FLOWER

 

Beauty By the Pot

I misplace things.

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Bright pink

Especially plant tags. (‘Using Chopsticks’ post)

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White white

So here are my Schlumbergeras, by the pot.

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Red red

After they finish blooming.

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White blush mix

I will refer to these photos to take the requested cuttings of the different colors.

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Fuchsia

Without surprising anyone a year later.

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Peach

No one complains, of course.

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Gold blush

Notice they are all on the same tray for size comparison. Also, I put a colored dot on the pot with a Sharpie.  This helps for a while, until the dots fade.

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Pink red

I make up names for color variations. White white has white buds and white blooms. White blush has white buds and blushing blooms, etc..

Happy Thanksgiving

FLOWER

 

 

 

 

 

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!

I NEED my Flowers

I do not like oxygen.

I need oxygen.

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I do not like flowers.

I need flowers.

Schlumbergera truncata (red)

They lift me up when I am down.S.t. peach/yellow

Their colors are like a party to liven up the loneliness.

S. t. (hot pink)

They shine on the dreary, rainy days.

S. t. (peach)

They add warmth to the coldness.IMG_6514

They add light to the darkness.

S. t. (peach)

They grow on sunshine and water,

then turn into something that feeds my soul.

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Beauty that blooms and grows forever.

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Cut flowers make me sad, because they are done.  All dressed up to die.

Give me a flower with roots and I see a beautiful future ahead.

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I NEED my FLOWERS!