20 yr old Christmas Cactus in an 8" pot !! Help me Please

Discussion in 'Cacti and Succulents' started by NoGrThumb, Dec 17, 2007.

  1. NoGrThumb

    NoGrThumb Member

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    I just purchased the above from a lovely person. It is huge and beautiful but has almost lost all of its life. It MUST be repotted and there is no doubt that I must do it now or it will surely die as it is getting no nourishment from this pot of soil as all of the leaves have thinned out and are limpish... I have watered and fed it....

    Could someone please tell me how best to keep this beauty alive... I have a picture if that would help and it looks like it could still make it....

    Cheers.... I would be grateful
     
  2. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Sounds like it simply got dried out and will come back from being watered. Unless the potting mix is in poor condition or the top is pulling the whole thing over there may not be an urgent need to repot. Since we are going into winter fertilizing and repotting (if needed) might best be left until spring.

    If the medium was actually being kept too wet and the top deteriorated from that then maybe it won't bounce back. Likewise if the plant was exposed to temperatures below its minimum requirement it may not perk up. Otherwise I have found these extremely easy and still have ones growing in small pots that were started decades ago, when I was in 7th grade in fact (I'm middle-aged now).
     
  3. NoGrThumb

    NoGrThumb Member

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    I'm with you on the middle-aged stuff !! I really don't know what happened to this beauty... nice little history with it (one friend gave it to another in grade school etc...) and the sister who sold it to me was very nice so maybe I will just ask her. she is as inexperienced as i am so maybe doesn't realize that it's in a bit of trouble or maybe she did and didn't know what to do... You may be correct... maybe i could just feed and water it until the spring and then repot it and ...?? This is the first year I am starting to notice plants and this is my first (i believe it's a middle-aged thing) Cheers
     
  4. markinwestmich

    markinwestmich Active Member

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    Christmas Cactus (Schlumbergera) are epiphytes (like most orchids and bromeliads). That is, they obtain moisture and nutrients mostly through the foliage. In the wild, they grow on trees, not in the ground. Like most epiphytes, they can be found in the "crooks" of trees, where leaves, sticks, moss, and moisture collects. The roots are mainly for securing itself to the tree, not necessarily for uptake of nutrients.

    Having said that, if you do repot, they should be potted in more of an "orchid mix" with a little soil and grit mixed in.
     
  5. NoGrThumb

    NoGrThumb Member

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    Thank-you so much for that information! Now, the question is - do i repot now or shall i try to await the spring ... as it is not attached to a tree trunk and it has not bloomed this year and have not found out when the last bloom was (but hope to) what do you suggest. Cheers,
     
  6. markinwestmich

    markinwestmich Active Member

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    I believe most will plant these in containers, you just have to use the correct "soil" mix. The main point was that these plants rarely get "rootbound" and that they benefit from misting. Too much water in the soil, like with any plant, can cause root rot. You can repot at any time, just be very careful not to disturb the roots too much. You can also take cuttings from healthy shoots and stick them in the soil to fill in areas that have died off.

    As for blooming, they are low-light bloomers...that is why they tend to bloom indoors during the winter. I have kept these outdoors in a hanging basket under a tree during the warm months. When it starts to get cool again, I bring them indoors. Usually within a month, or so, the drop in light levels stimulates blooming. You can alternate your lighting every few months, med-high light followed by low light to stimulate blooming throughout the year. I have been able to get them to bloom as many as three times in a year.
     
  7. NoGrThumb

    NoGrThumb Member

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    Thank you.... what do you say is the "correct" soil mix please.
     
  8. NoGrThumb

    NoGrThumb Member

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    the misting and the alternate lighting is a fabulous tip.... thankyou for that..... soil.... i am getting cactus soil and "orchid mix" .... and should i increase the pot size or not? very confused..... but very thankful for your advice.
     
  9. markinwestmich

    markinwestmich Active Member

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    Whether or not to increase the pot size is up to you. If it appears too crowded, then it probably is. Your cacti/orchid mix combination should work well. If nothing else, the new soil may perk up the plant in a few weeks.
     
  10. Shelbys Greenfingers

    Shelbys Greenfingers Member

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    I recommend a clay pot for the Schlumbergera bridgesii or truncata. A lot of places sell them under the same name. The bridgesii has smooth leaves where the truncata has sharp serrations in 2's or 4's. They are both cacti so they need well drainded soil and need to dry out before watering. Also, as for the flowering they are photo sensitive. They need 2 rest periods, that is they need less water and no food before and after flowering along with a dark period. To bloom, stop watering and put in a place of low to no light for about a month, when you bring it back out it will produce flowers and give a magnificent show. Once all the blooming occurs and most have fallen off you need to rest the plant again, that is keep water at a minimum and place in the dark again. If you are in an area where the temp is above 55F you can put it outside. During this time you can supply normal watering and fertilizer. If you have a basement this would provide ideal temp and darkness for rest periods. If not a closet would do the same. You can force flowering once you get these techniques down and have a flowery show any time of the year!
    Shelby
     
  11. NoGrThumb

    NoGrThumb Member

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    This sounds like the perfect fix and i have heard it before but not so specifically. So, needing even more.... (sorry)... here's the further question. This beautiful cactus, that does not have jagged leaves, they are longish and smooth... i understand has not flowered in at least a year if not more... and when i brought it home... because it was dieing, i fed and watered it and placed it in a lot of light (sometime slightly direct for very short periods of time -but it's winter here and i'm in a S.W. exposure)... it perked up and started to grow new little stems.

    After receiving your wonderful message of information, I think it's time to put it in a closet but do i place it in a larger clay pot with some new soil now or wait until it flowers or..... (and how will he breath in a closet and do i at least give him the odd spray of water or anything.... it seems cruel) he is in a proper pot... just that I think it's small... maybe not....
     
  12. Shelbys Greenfingers

    Shelbys Greenfingers Member

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    No, its not cruel. You will need to supply water just enough to keep the roots from drying out.
     
  13. NoGrThumb

    NoGrThumb Member

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    Thank you but the repotting ? When shall i, before or after the rest? Is there water other than tap water that is chlorinated that we can use for this plant... do you use anything special?
     
  14. Shelbys Greenfingers

    Shelbys Greenfingers Member

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    You should wait until it comes out of the rest period and starts actively growing. You can use a filter to remove chlorine from the tap water or just fill a jug or bucket up with tap water and let it sit for a couple days the chlorine in the water will evaporate out. A liquid plant starter which is vitamin B1 can be bought where fertilizer is sold. I don't use anything special. One thing I do is place a wooden bamboo skewer or chopstick down into the soil. It is a good indicator of when you need to water. When it warms back up you can place it outside and water and fertilize to get the plant ready to flower in the fall.
     
  15. Bluewing

    Bluewing Well-Known Member

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    I know this is sort of an old post, but you don't need to put your cactus into the closet to get it to flower. Just give it natural light and a cool room.The shorter daylight hours in the fall and coolness will help to set buds. Reg water from the tap is fine.
     
  16. Dave-Florida

    Dave-Florida Active Member

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    Um, yes. Christmas cacti flower happily in Florida, with its relatively long December days.
     
  17. Bluewing

    Bluewing Well-Known Member

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    Oh, and if you need to repot, it's been done in the spring.
     

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