Two of the favorite plants for the winter holiday season are Poinsettias & the Christmas Cactus. With a bit of knowledge, you can choose and care for either of these rather easy.
Choosing Your Poinsettia:
- Choose a plant with dark green foliage. Avoid fallen or damaged leaves as this indicates poor handling, fertilization, lack of water or a root disease problem.
- Avoid plants with too much green around the bract edges, as this is a sign of insufficient maturity.
- Be sure to check the underside of the leaves for insects.
- The colorful flower bracts should be in proportion to the plant and pot size.
- Little or no pollen should be showing on the actual flowers, the red or green button-like parts in the center of the colorful bracts. This indicates a younger plant.
- If you are planning on reblooming your plant for next year, examine the branching structure. If the plants are grown single stem (non-branched with several plants per pot), these cultivars do not branch well and will not form attractive plants for a second year.
Read the FULL post: How to Choose, Care For, and Rebloom Your Poinsettia
To distinguish the difference between a Thanksgiving and a Christmas cacti, look at the shape of the flattened stem segments called phylloclades. On the Thanksgiving cactus, these segments each have saw-toothed serrations or projections along the margins. The stem margins on the Christmas cactus are more rounded and less pronounced.
Since flowering plants sell better than nonflowering, merchants tend to fill their shelves with Thanksgiving cacti.
To initiate flower buds on your holiday cactus, the plants need:
- A bright location.
- Fourteen hours or more of continuous darkness each 24 hour period is required
before flower buds will occur. Long nights should be started about the middle of September and continued for at least 6 continuous weeks for complete bud set. Just like the poinsettia.
- Fall growing temperatures should be between 60F and 68F, but as close to 68F as possible for maximum flower production. Plants grown with night temperatures between 50F and 59F will set flower buds regardless of day length, but growth will be slower.
- Pinching at the end of September to remove any terminal phylloclades that are less than a half inch long, to make all stems approximately the same length. These short, immature stem segments will not make flower buds.
Read the FULL post: How to Care for Your Thanksgiving / Christmas Cactus
Copyright Ilex Farrell