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Tips for having a Christmas cactus

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Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera) can be seen everywhere this time of year.

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They have always been a popular purchase as they are an easy plant to grow, reasonably inexpensive, and will bloom for a long period. They are ideal for homes as they are not poisonous to dogs or cats. With care they can grow 20 – 30 years.

You can find many colours – red, salmon, pink, orange, yellow and even white to brighten our winter days. It is not a true cactus despite its name, but it is a tropical plant that grows on trees in the rain forests of South America where it thrives in the humidity.

There are a few things to consider in the care of any Christmas cactus. They like indirect sunlight with a north easterly location ideally. Temperatures overnight need to be cool and they do not like drafts. To provide humidity they can be stood on a tray of pebbles topped with water, which will naturally provide moisture in the air. Do not overwater as it can cause root rot. It prefers to be rootbound and the pot needs a drain hole, so check purchases.

Common problems include leaves going dark, which means too much sunlight; limp leaves are just a lack of water and humidity; few flowers are from overfeeding (only needed after flowering).

Propagation is easy and generally done in late spring. This gives a time when you can cut back and trim the plant. Simply take the top two or three sections (spade like pieces) gently pulling from the stem and lay out flat for 24 hours to allow ends to dry. Prepare pots with light soil mix, take the cutting and gently place three-quarters of the first ‘spade’ into the soil pressing lightly. More than one can be put in one pot, then water them. It will take 4-6 weeks for them to root. Set away from the sun and watch them grow. These will make good gifts for friends.

There is no new update for Tillsonburg Horticultural Society members. Future meetings and events have been cancelled until it will be safe to meet again. Stay safe stay well.

farmer@kwic.com

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