Monday, November 12, 2007

In Bloom

xmas cactus, originally uploaded by poketypatch.

A Christmas Cactus that I received as a gift last year at this time decided to bloom! What a wonderful way to christen the holiday season. I was astounded by how well the plant has made it through the year. However, after a little research on the ideal conditions for this plant, I realized that I had given this little beauty everything it needed without even knowing it.

The scientific name for Christmas cactus is Zygocactus. This is a plant that is native to the jungles in South America. It requires a lot of light right before and during the holiday blooming period. During the summer just take it outdoors, and put it in a semi-shady spot. I kept mine on the back porch. As fall approaches, gradually give it more light. You can bring it indoors or just move it in your garden.

I think that how you water the plant is key. During the year, you should water thoroughly when the top half of the soil in the pot feels dry. During the summer, keep the soil moist. When fall arrives, water the plant only well enough to prevent wilting; and, don't water at all in October. You can begin watering again in November. The watering of my plant occurred by accident. Since we had had drought here in the northeast, the forgotten plant which was sitting on a patio table did not get watered in September and October. Then a couple of weeks ago we receive our first bout of rain. Within the next week, I notice that the plant was about to burst!

After your cactus completes blooming, let it rest by withholding water for six weeks. When new growth appears, re-pot and top-dress with fresh soil. Resume watering to keep soil fairly moist.

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