Monday Memories 11-20-2017

How to Care for Your Thanksgiving / Christmas Cactus

The Thanksgiving cactus (Schlumbergera truncata) and Christmas cactus  (Schlumbergera bridgesii) are popular winter-flowering houseplants native to South America and come in many colors: red, rose, purple, cream, white, peach and orange. The Schlumbergera species grow as epiphytes (non-parasitic plants that grow upon others) in the rain forests.

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.

How to Choose, Care For and Rebloom Your Poinsettia

imageChoosing 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.

Prairie Fires – Cleansing the Midwestern Landscape

imageFire has played an instrumental role in affecting many of the prairies in the Midwest.
Historically, tall grass prairies are shaped by one of three types of disturbances;

  • Drought
  • Animal grazing
  • Wildfires

There are many misconceptions that if the prairie (or other natural area) was left alone, it would revert to native. In the absence of disturbance, prairies often revert to either poor quality grasslands or thorn woodlands.

Native American Indians were keen on this information, observing what Mother Nature did naturally to herself to cleanse her skin, fire. They learned that fire removed the thorny brush, which gave access to animals and hunters alike. The open areas were also available to grazing animals and native plants that equal medical supplies and food to the Indians.

Ilex vs. Tar Spot on Maple

imageThere are several fungi in the genus Rhytisma (most commonly Rhytisma acerinum and Rhytisma punctatum) that cause tar spot on maples and sycamores. These fungi commonly survive in over-wintered leaf litter, where they produce spores that lead to leaf infections.

The best defense in keeping tar spot out of your trees is to rake up and destroy all infected leaves in the fall. Leaves should be burned or properly mulched. The fungus can overwinter on fallen leaves and provide a source of inoculum to re-infect the trees for the next growing season.


For anyone that might be interested in learning some tips or tricks for making outdoor winter containers – Click the photos below!


© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

14 thoughts on “Monday Memories 11-20-2017

  1. A very interesting post – always good to pick up some tips.
    Nice to see the little poinsettia. My Mum used to buy one each Christmas; I don’t think any ever lasted. Which is why it is strange for me to have a massive poinsettia tree in my garden here, that survives with no help from me whatsoever. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. We know them only as Christmas cactus; but we are so liberal here that they will probably soon be ‘holiday cactus’. I did not know that the rarer of the two is really the Christmas cactus, although I have read that there is some issue with the names. I almost never see the Christmas cactus.
    The article about fire is interesting because no one wants to discuss it. There are actually ‘environmentalists’ who do not want ‘any’ tree to be removed in the San Francisco Bay Area because doing so contributed to global warming. There is no concern for the effects of invasive exotics! I try to explain that the Santa Clara Valley was naturally a chaparral, with very few trees; and that Los Angeles was a desert, with even fewer trees. They do not want to hear it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I rarely see the Christmas cactus, I only happened upon one late in the season at a grocery store!
      I often wonder if California would benefit from prescription burns. I bet they would and would have less home devastation.
      The problem, of course, is that there is no one in charge that knows the environment. You get a bunch of bureaucrats that just know how to shuffle paperwork around. So sad.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Well, the bureaucrats are only part of the problem. Environmentalists are a worse problem. However, the main problem is that so many of us live in areas that should burn. My neighborhood is one of the few places that was not reliant of fire a very long time ago, but since the redwood was harvested more than a hundred years ago, other more combustible trees moved in.

        Liked by 1 person

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