Very old Christmas Cactus

Discussion in 'HortForum' started by MrsGreenthumbs, Aug 22, 2010.

  1. MrsGreenthumbs

    MrsGreenthumbs Active Member

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    Hello All,

    I just inherted a very old CC. Its in a 4 inch pot and lived its life in a dark basement until now. Its terriably pot bound with roots coming out the bottom and top. It has a few brown speck on some leaves and lots of air roots. I plan to repot it in a fews days once its over the shock in a cactus soil and potting soil. I never had one of these and my auntie is hoping I can get it to bloom for christmas. I have read up on the care already but any extra advise would help. :)

    Mrs. Greenthumbs <3
     
  2. contactlem

    contactlem Member

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    Hello! I love Christmas cactus's.
    I would recommend transplanting it into a 6" pot, any larger and it will focus on the roots, not on the flowers. They don't mind being root bound to some degree. Before transplanting give the cactus a little shower (not the soil) just to get any possible dust etc. off. I dry mine off with q-tips so it doesn't water spot. When transplanting I would give a little more water than usual (not soppy), then let that get nearly dry, then move into the normal watering cycle (dry to slightly damp). Your soil mixture sounds good but a little more on the potting soil than cactus mix (the plant will do fine). Don't bury the base in soil, it needs to be only slightly buried (check how it is now - keep it the same if it's fine). Not sure what to do with the roots coming up, if they can bend downwards do that, if not perhaps cut those down/ back(??). Gradually move it into brighter and brighter light over a couple of weeks. I think it will do best if its light comes from the south and west. As for the few spots just make sure they aren't scale, otherwise they should be OK.

    Absolutely no guarantees on the Christmas bloom - but really wish it, and you the best of luck. It will be fun to see what color the flowers will be...
     
  3. MrsGreenthumbs

    MrsGreenthumbs Active Member

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    Dear contactlem,

    Thank you so much :) On further inspection I found the roots to be filling the inside of the pot like a knot of hair, plus theres a little bit of moss in there too! I talked to auntie today and she said the spots are from were her cat nibbled on it. Also, this plant is over ten years old she reckons! She has two others that are alot bigger. Apprently the flowers are pink.

    Thanks again and I will keep you updated :)

    Mrs.Greenthumbs
     
  4. MrsGreenthumbs

    MrsGreenthumbs Active Member

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    Update :)

    I potted the CC, I cleaned and watered it. It was so pot bound, wow! A few stems broke off so I tucked them into the soil. I also piched off the damaged bit too. :)
     
  5. togata57

    togata57 Contributor 10 Years

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    Good luck with your cactus! I have several, the eldest of which is over 25 years old and gigantic. It lives out on the shady patio in summer, and is moved inside to a bright (curtain-filtered) window in fall/winter. I leave it out until frost warnings are given---seems as though the temp. contrast gives it the signal to set buds.

    My big 'un is a start from my mom's even older plant. Despite its age, hers outperforms mine in the bloom dep't.---it has ideal conditions in her back room: cool temp, bright indirect sun, air movement.
    As with all plants, be sure your cactus has good drainage so that it gets good air circ. to its roots.

    Seems as though most C.c. have magenta-ish flowers---I have an 'Easter cactus' that blooms orangey-red, and a variety called 'White Christmas' with lovely white flowers w/magenta stamens and the subtlest touch of pink in the throat.

    Enjoy!
     
  6. photopro

    photopro Well-Known Member

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    These species are found naturally growing epiphytically on the branches of trees in the Rio de Janeiro, Brazil vicinity. In nature they don't grow in soil thus the great suggestion to make sure the soil is porous, never soggy. You can easily accomplish that by adding Perlite, fine orchid bark and some peat to the mix. Wet soil will rot the roots.

    In Nature, pot bound would be "good" since there is a large quantity of roots. However, they would not be all wound up but instead hanging way down beneath the tree branch to gather rain water. When this plant is pot bound the roots have little soil and must collect the water naturally while not sitting in it.

    Some botanical gardens prefer to grow them out of a pot and simply attached to a tree branch to duplicate Mother Nature. The roots are simply misted regularly. I do the same with many of my rain forest plants.

    Since they grow in trees they love brighter light and according to Dr. Marcus Nadruz at the Rio de Janeiro Botanical Garden they do respond to seasonal light change although there is some study still going on that indicates the changes in seasonal rain may also be an influence. In Brazil the winter occurs in our summer which makes it bloom backwards from the way we believe it should in North America. Still, they see them bloom in different seasons which makes some wonder if the length of the day may not be the only factor. In South America the seasonal rains begin in December and many plants are triggered to bloom either at the beginning of the rainy season while others are triggered to bloom at its end.

    In parts of the world they are known as Christmas Cactus and in others Thanksgiving or even Easter Cactus. The species are all related and naturally produce some color variations although the red appears to be the most common. We have several plants and one always blooms in November while the other always produces inflorescences in the spring.

    The photo shows what epiphytes look like on a tree branch. Some of the plants on this log have roots hanging 6 feet.



    Steve
     

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  7. togata57

    togata57 Contributor 10 Years

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    Aforementioned white cactus is testament to the truth of Steve's post. Since I have recanted my earlier nonchalant care and have substituted for this method a more epiphyte-appropriate one, my 'White Christmas' has flourished and looks happier now than it has for years. Better draining soil (it is in a hanging pot) and daily misting have really cheered it up.

    Can also testify that I believe flowering is affected by MANY factors: amounts of water, light, and food in summer, temps and light indoors in winter...Some years my large cactus will have sparse flowering, some years lovely and full---last winter it bloomed well, rested a bit, then did it again! Even had a few after it went outside in May. ---By contrast, white cactus always sets buds immediately after coming inside, blooms right away, and has about the same number of flowers every year. Go figure!

    Was fascinated to discover that a relative of the C.c. is Hatiora/Rhipsalis salicornioides, aka 'Drunkard's Dream'. It's a small world.

    Would this be an appropriate venue for a discussion/clarification of Schlumbergera and Zygocactus---what are the differences between (if any)?
     
  8. photopro

    photopro Well-Known Member

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    The differences in many species and genera is imperceptible unless you are trained. I am not sure this is a really appropriate place to begin such a discussion since most people only want to know how to keep them alive.

    Since most are truly epiphytes and don't grow in soil the example you gave of growing them in coconut husk or even orchid bark is a great method. They grow much like a tropical orchid so just keep them in bright light with humid conditions and damp material (not wet) around the roots. Damp but not soggy sphagnum moss is also a good choice to mix into the material.

    Steve
     
  9. Barbara Lloyd

    Barbara Lloyd Well-Known Member

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    I have found that mine like to be near a bright (not direct sun light) window and will set blooms on the bright side, then if you turn it the blooms will set on the newly turned side. Weird, but that how mine work. There are several colors Tangerine, Yellows and several shade of pink and white, but all have the characteristic bright pink stamens ;)) barb
     
  10. MrsGreenthumbs

    MrsGreenthumbs Active Member

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    Thanks everyone for the great information. :) Wow, so it blooms, rests and blooms again like my African Violets :)

    Thanks again :)
    Mrs. Greenthumbs
     

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