The First of the “Holiday” Cacti

My so-called “Christmas” cactus are blooming late this year.

I am not sure that they are even called “Christmas” cactus anymore. As a general rule, I refer to them as zygo cactus or cacti, not because I want to avoid the whole Christmas/Holiday issue, but because their bloom time is so variable that even the word “holiday” doesn’t seem to capture it correctly.

Most years, I have these plants in bloom from mid-October until at least mid-February, with a second bloom (yes, you did read that right, a SECOND bloom) following.

The second bloom isn’t nearly as numerous as the first, but there is a distinct second bloom on many of the plants. Why do I even bother to mention it like that, in all caps?

Well, last year, it seemed as if there was a huge hullabaloo over on some of the trendier plant sites about this second bloom. People seemed to think it was so unusual. It really isn’t–just as it’s not unusual for these plants to begin blooming in October and to be blooming in February.

Keep in mind, it’s not all the same plant doing this. You can see that I have just a few of these lovely plants and they are on different bud and bloom schedules despite being in exactly the same place.

So what is it that makes them bloom? Well, roughly a few things but it’s not an exact science. In general, they are triggered to begin their bloom cycle by length of daylight and temperature. If I had to say it was one thing more than the other, I would suggest that it is temperature because this year seemed to be a bit warmer than last and they are blooming a bit later. After all, the daylight cycle stays the same from year to year.

Then again, I rarely put them in the same place in my home from year to year (with the exception of a few of the larger ones) so I don’t know that this is a scientific way to study it.

And the larger ones–that are always in the same place–are blooming earlier this year–so go figure! See what I mean about no real science to any of this?

In any event, you don’t need to believe the nonsense about putting these plants in the dark like poinsettias to make them bloom–I have certainly never had to do anything like that at all. The one that is currently in bloom is in one of the most well-lit rooms of the house, in fact.

One thing that you don’t want to do is to treat them like cactus, however. They are not cactus. They are more like a succulent,and should be watered sparingly. Because there are a few different types of zygocacti, their full range of care is beyond the range of this post.

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