Thursday, April 8, 2010

In Bloom: A jungle cactus

Today we have something a little different - a jungle cactus. A few years ago I talked a cutting out of a friend of mine. I rather liked this one because of that really neat purple-pink outline on all the segments. They are easy to root, you just break off a an oval segment or two, let the broken end dry a couple days, then pot it in damp media such that the lower third of the segment is in the media. I have used both sphagnum moss and regular potting soil for this. Eventually it will just root.

Succulents of this type are typically referred to as Christmas or Easter cacti, as they tend to bloom at those times of year. Blooming is induced by a short day. This is an important point. If you are keeping them under artificial light for 12 hrs a day, they will NOT bloom. This guy lives in an East facing window on a lower shelf, so is 'shaded' from any overhead lighting. My mother used to induce blooming in her Christmas cactus by moving it to the North-facing basement window for several weeks during winter to induce blooming. Other than these points, I pretty much grow it like a Phalaenopsis.

The problem I'm having with this plant is that I stupidly set it on top of a basket containing a Bulbophyllum phalaenopsis seedling, and it promptly rooted into the media. I have two choices: Leave it, which will most likely result in it slowly overtaking the entirety of the basket, or wait until flowering is over and rip its pot off the surface of the basket. I will most likely do the second, and it will recover. The probability of damage long-term to that Bubophyllum is too high, and replacing a seedling of that age is not an option. They're too hard to find. But in the mean time, the cactus is pretty to look at!


webb said...

My grandmother had a cactus like that for years. It was handed down to my mother and my aunt, but I never got a "slip". I always liked the rounded segments - as compared to the "Christmas" cacti, which Grandmother always called "crab cactus" because of their resemblance to the blue crabs (of the Chesapeake Bay).

The rule of the house was to chop up a length of banana peel in September and "top dress" each plant with it. (You can also whirl it in your food processor with water, but I don't like the smell!) Mother says it gives a fall dose of potassium that causes the plant to bloom. I suspect light plays a bigger role, and the plant doesn't hate banana!

Nice to see it being appreciated.

SapphireChild said...

That's a neat idea!

My godmother used to always put her banana peels under her fig tree. It seemed to enjoy that, she always got lots of fruit.

tarabu said...

Lovely - I think I need to add one of those to my window ledge.

swamprad said...

Any idea as to the genus/species? It looks different from the typical schlumbergera or zygocactus. After Christmas 2008, Lowes had discounted their small Christmas cactuses to 25 cents. I bought six and potted them all together in a large pot. Kept it outside on the patio all summer, and this Christmas I had the most magnificent blooming! The only problem is that they were of several different colors, which I think is tacky, but what can you do.

SapphireChild said...

haha but its OK for Christmas decorations to be tacky.

I have no idea what this thing is. I've never tried to find out. But now that you've asked, I'm curious and think I'll try.