Holiday Cactus?

20191013_145438

This may look like the same photo from Wednesday. It is the same plant. But I took the photo so that the tag was visible and readable in the photo. It says “Holiday Cheer Christmas Cactus.”

Hmm. I am not sure about you, but with the exception of our Canadian friends who celebrated their Thanksgiving on Monday, I am not quite ready for holiday cheer. And I am sure not ready for winter!

So what’s happened to my zygocactus? Nothing, really. Sadly, they’re not terribly good at flowering for any particular holiday. They tend to flower on their own schedule and their own time. In fact, an article that I just wrote about using plants for holiday entertaining suggests that one doesn’t try to use these particular plants if one needs them in bloom for a party–they can be terribly unpredictable.

What I did differently this year was I put them outside for the summer (or what passes for summer here in the frozen north:they were outside from about mid-June until just past Labor Day). After that, they came directly into the house.

The one that’s in flower is in a northeast window. But lest you think that this is an anomaly, here are two that are in a northwest window. As you can see, they are not far behind the first.

Still, I am not planning to use them for any holiday parties and I have numerous plants, some of which show no signs of budding. I am hopeful that this means a long bloom season for these plants!

About Growing Those Shrubs as House Plants…..

20190117_113515

What are you looking at? Last year’s poinsettia of course. Are you surprised? I know that no one really keeps these things from year to year. By March, they are toast–or perhaps if they’re lucky, compost.

But they do have a long and storied history as shrubs, particularly in Mexico, which is their home country. And obviously, if they are growing as shrubs in the ground, no one is doing the crazy machinations we hear about in the news or on blogs or web sites (which you won’t read about here, by the way) about putting the plants in closets or under boxes to get them to bloom. I think those folks who have them as shrubs in their yards have better things to do with their time.

20190102_104320

So if you don’t mind your plants not blooming not quite on schedule (and you know I don’t–I’m the one with last year’s amaryllis in June!) this is what you can expect. And this is just the beginning.

So this year, if you have the room, perhaps consider saving over a lovely poinsettia of your own. Or at least compost it, if you can!

More Seasonal Color

20181214_173321

Was anyone surprised to see my post listing this plant as a “bulb?” If you’re an outdoor gardener in a cooler climate, you might have planted its smaller cousins in a shady spot.

With my heavy clay soil, cyclamen corms just rot away and don’t even come up in the spring, nevermind naturalize in the lovely drifts that I have seen in other gardens.

For that matter, this plant doesn’t do particularly well in my home. I am not entirely sure why. It’s certainly cool enough.

It may be my watering practices and the fact that it is a corm (which is a bulb-like structure. Crocuses are corms if that helps you visualize).

All “house plants” that grow from bulbs–calla lilies and caladiums are just 2 more examples I can think of–need to be kept evenly moist. Once bulbs dry out, it tells them to initiate dormancy.

In my house, I am not so good with “evenly moist.” So I suspect that’s why I fail with these. But they are lovely to look at for the season.

Another Holiday Worthy Plant

20181213_195734.jpg

This stunner unfortunately doesn’t have one good common name. Its botanical is stromanthe sanguinea ‘Triostar’ (or sometimes variegata). I have seen it called Persian Shield, but not often, and I have also seen it called Tricolor Prayer Plant, which is even more misleading, because it does not belong to the calathea/maranta genus which are usually called “prayer plants.” So feel free to come up with some good common name yourself.

I say it’s “holiday worthy” of course because of the colorations in the leaves. I suppose it could easily be be gifted around Valentine’s Day as well for the same reason. This photo shows the nice maroon stems fairly well. I didn’t capture the maroon undersides of the leaves though. It really is a stunner of a plant!

For me, I grow it in an east or west exposure–where ever I have more room in a given season. I have had this plant for several years and it hasn’t grown very much (and I like that in a plant sometimes)–many of my plants are outgrowing my house!

In the summer, I put it outside under a dogwood that throws fairly dense shade. Despite the outside/inside routine for at least 3 or 4 years, it has never had an insect problem.

In my cooler house, it only needs water once a week. Outside, it might get watered every day, depending on temperatures.

I definitely can recommend this as a plant. As I often say–what’s not to like?

With Zygocacti, What You See Might Not Be What You Get

20181209_131624

This is my oldest holiday or zygo cactus, also known as a schlumbergera. It’s probably at least 20 years old. And despite the post headline, if you look at the bud and bloom shown together in this photo, you’ll notice that they are the same color.

20181201_103121

The other two plants on this windowsill, not so much. The pale pink one that you see in this joint photo? Its early buds are white. It currently has no buds so I can’t show you that.

20181209_131555

And these attractive pink buds look like they belong to my ancient 20 year old zygocactus, don’t they?

20181209_131558

This is how they open.

So the moral of this story is to try to ensure that the plant you acquire has an open flower so that you know what you’re getting–unless you like surprises!

Holiday Greenery

20181207_082705

It’s that time of year–I start “decking the halls” (or walls, in this case) with all sorts of live greens. And no, I don’t make them myself.

I may go cut some fresh holly from my backyard, but for the most part, my holly grows in too much shade to make abundant berries–and I would much prefer to leave the berries outside for the birds to enjoy anyway.

So I splurge on these purchased things–and for the most part, I leave them up until well into Lent!

20181207_082654

I used to get kissing balls but the last few years I’ve gotten these baskets. They seem to last a little better, and depending on what they’re grown in, I may get a bonus container at the end. The last couple of years when I had gotten “kissing balls” they seemed to disintegrate in January or February–well before I was ready to recycle them. These last better.

20181207_082631

And I brought this home and set it in its usual spot and realized it was next to 2 pots of succulents which were frozen in place–so I had to re-think that placement in a hurry! As it turns out, I like this placement better–until our next snow, at least, when the Spoiler will blast it with the snowblower! I’ll have to hope my succulents thaw so that I can move them!