Thread Number: 68910  /  Tag: Ranges, Stoves, Ovens
My Ancient Xmas Cactus: Storm Victim
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Post# 916957   1/22/2017 at 15:10 (605 days old) by rp2813 (The Big Blue Bubble)        

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The winds were howling almost all night.  At around 12:30 AM I was getting ready for bed, and as I went to turn off the front patio light, I realized my sprawling Xmas cactus that may date as far back as the 1940s was MIA.  It had been blown off the patio. 


This thing weighs a ton, and was well-seated in a cast iron stand, but apparently it was a little too top-heavy.  I was planning to re-pot it, as it hasn't been looking happy, so I guess I'll be doing that sooner rather than later. 


Under calm conditions earlier today, I assessed the damage.  I'm glad it wasn't worse.  It looked as though it could have been reduced to stubs before I righted it.

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Post# 916962 , Reply# 1   1/22/2017 at 15:35 (605 days old) by vacerator (Macomb, Michigan)        
That is the largest

Zygo I've seen.

Post# 916965 , Reply# 2   1/22/2017 at 15:46 (605 days old) by pulltostart (Mobile, AL)        

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That's an impressive plant.  What's the history?  Did you inherit this from a family member?



Post# 916970 , Reply# 3   1/22/2017 at 16:19 (605 days old) by Maytagbear (N.E. Ohio)        
Can be saved, by cuttings

Ralph...if you haven't already, take several tip cuttings, and best of luck.


Post# 916977 , Reply# 4   1/22/2017 at 16:43 (605 days old) by rp2813 (The Big Blue Bubble)        

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Lawrence (pts and mb),


Back in 1984, I briefly lived in an all original 1937 Mediterranean style home that had been uninhabited for several years.  Out in the unkempt back yard, hidden under a thick and tangled mat of overgrown Bermuda grass, I caught a glimpse of a fluted turquoise glazed pot on its side and long forgotten, containing this lopsided cactus, not even a foot across, that was still trying to make a go of it.  I fished it out, found a place for it and began to care for it.


When it was time to move, I brought the cactus over to my parents' house, where it has been ever since.  It did well here, although at one point (+/- 1990?) its stand got tangled up with the garden hose and it toppled, shattering the original pot.  I had an identical vintage pot, slightly larger and unglazed, so popped it in there and that is the pot that broke last night.


I've received various varieties of Xmas cacti over the years as gifts, and not a one of them has survived.  This plant, on the other hand, seems indestructible -- as the pix above attest.  I started a hanging specimen from a slip of this plant about 20 years ago and it got huge, requiring over 3' of clearance underneath.  I gave it to a friend a couple of years ago because I didn't want to deal with re-potting it.  I have taken many slips from this plant with good success.  It seems to be a fool-proof variety.  It looks like the broken pieces left behind by last night's mishap will be great for potting up and starting more plants.

Post# 916983 , Reply# 5   1/22/2017 at 17:25 (605 days old) by pulltostart (Mobile, AL)        

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Thanks for the information.  However, you failed to end with -


"and THAT'S the rest of the story"



Post# 916988 , Reply# 6   1/22/2017 at 18:08 (605 days old) by rp2813 (The Big Blue Bubble)        

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How about, "And that's the RESSST of the story!"


And here's a new one.  55 years ago today, we woke up to snow on the ground here.  I had the measles and was stuck inside.  It happened again in February of 1976, but I was away at school down south, and all we got was rain and hail.


Good day!

Post# 917012 , Reply# 7   1/22/2017 at 20:00 (605 days old) by ptcruiser51 (Boynton Beach, FL)        
Christmas Cacti Mystery

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As most of you know, I re-located to FL from NJ several years ago. I gave my two cacti to my sister for safekeeping until I could make another trip to the Garden State. Not knowing what to do with them, she put them on top of the toilet tank in her guest bathroom. She has four cats and they will trash any plant brought in, so she was able to keep the door shut. Lo and behold, the plants bloomed twice with almost no attention other than watering.

Brought them here, and they grow fine except for no blooms. I took cuttings and sent them to a friend in PA. He rooted them and they bloomed! Go figure...

Post# 917016 , Reply# 8   1/22/2017 at 20:11 (605 days old) by earthling177 (Boston, MA)        

My mother used to say that there are many plants like that, including African Violets -- when the temperature is good, enough light and water, they just grow, but when it seems that hard times are coming (less water, light or soil nutrients) then they bloom.

Post# 917041 , Reply# 9   1/22/2017 at 23:45 (605 days old) by rp2813 (The Big Blue Bubble)        

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This one has always bloomed, but the timing has varied according to the amount of light the plant receives.  Usually it was well after the holidays and almost closer to Easter, apparently because it was getting too much shade.  I lopped off some low limbs and branches on nearby trees to allow for two or three hours' worth of morning sun to hit it, and the next bloom began right around Xmas.  The following two have as well. 


Charlie, try different exposure and let soil dry between waterings.   I do very little to this plant other than enjoy it.  


Growing up, an IBM scientist lived around the corner from here.  Back in the '60s, in his spare time he did a lot of experiments with plants to see if they had feelings, and results indicated they might or did.   Needless to say, neighbors thought he was kind of a kook.  Call me a kook, but maybe this plant is forever grateful to me for saving it.

Post# 917046 , Reply# 10   1/23/2017 at 00:20 (605 days old) by MattL (Flushing, MI)        

I have a christmas cactus too, had it for some time, maybe 10 years.  I should re-pot it, it's in a hanging pot, but really don't want to disturb it as it grows well.  I do get it to bloom every year at the right time by treating it much like a poinsettia.  It hangs in a sunny south facing window most of the year, but come late september I water it well, then place it in a north facing bedroom.   No or very little artificial light at night and by early december it's ready to bloom.   I just check too see if it's too dry, but other than that it rests then blooms.  I do feed it spring and summer.


What is the best way to take cuttings?

Post# 917052 , Reply# 11   1/23/2017 at 01:01 (605 days old) by rp2813 (The Big Blue Bubble)        

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Matt, cuttings can be as short and small as a single "leaf" or they can be taken from older more woody pieces.  In the last picture above, those woody looking stems that snapped off will get stuck in pots.   Some of the younger greener parts will too.


Let the cut ends dry before sticking in soil -- deep enough to keep the cutting stable/upright.  Don't overwater.  They'll rot instead of root.


I'll take some pictures of a couple of cuttings I've got going around here and post them.

Post# 917086 , Reply# 12   1/23/2017 at 09:03 (605 days old) by suds14 (Pittsburgh)        

I have 2 Christmas cactuses. Foy years I could not get them to bloom. I was told put them outside in May and leave out as long as possible in Oct. I bring in when they call for the first frost. They usually bloom 2 weeks after I bring them in the house. I have has these cactus for over 20 years.


Post# 917192 , Reply# 13   1/23/2017 at 19:02 (604 days old) by ptcruiser51 (Boynton Beach, FL)        

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I see you are from Pittsburgh. Do you think your suggestion would work here in FL? The sun is very hot here in the summer, and I don't have a spot that's shaded on my property. As for "first frost", we don't have that in South Florida! My first summer here I put the cactus under a picnic table on the patio. It still got fried! Another aw.o pal said to put it in a darkened room and water sporadically. It still did nothing. Maybe I should give it back to my sister and tell her to put it back on her terlet tank! LOL.

Post# 917234 , Reply# 14   1/23/2017 at 22:12 (604 days old) by rp2813 (The Big Blue Bubble)        

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Charlie, is there not even a spot where you can create shade on a north or east facing side of your place? 


I still maintain that blooming is more about light than temperature.  These plants don't like temperatures below 33, so I don't think Florida is the problem in that regard, but they also don't like to bake in the sun, so in your case, the more shade the better.  They also don't look their best if they get too much sun.  Just a chunk of lattice strategically placed would probably help yours.


Here are shots of cuttings I've taken, some quite recent and others a couple to a few years old.  For scale reference, none of the pots is wider than 6".   I moved one to the table on our back patio a few weeks ago since it's under cover from rain and any frost, and where we can enjoy its blooms.  Even the sort of sickly looking sprig in the last shot is still bent on producing blooms.  It may ultimately fail, but the little starts in the same pot appear poised to take off.



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Post# 917325 , Reply# 15   1/24/2017 at 11:07 (604 days old) by Maytagbear (N.E. Ohio)        
Does anyone remember........

the pilot episode/TV movie of "The Waltons?" The one with Patricia Neal as Olivia? She had her Christmas Cactus down cellar....

The series was OK, but I love the pilot movie much, much more.


Post# 917378 , Reply# 16   1/24/2017 at 14:16 (604 days old) by rp2813 (The Big Blue Bubble)        

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Lawrence, I do remember that scene, and my cactus often brings it to mind when it blooms -- although I think I remember her cactus having red flowers.  I'd go so far as to say that scene was part of my motivation for the rescue operation mentioned above.


I love Patricia Neal, and honestly, that scene, along with Johnboy's simple explanation for what triggered the Great Depression, are the only two I can readily recall from the pilot that IIRC was entitled "The Homecoming."


I remember being disappointed that Neal and the comparatively rugged guy who played the dad weren't part of "The Waltons" cast.  I agree with you that the series didn't measure up to the pilot.

Post# 917471 , Reply# 17   1/25/2017 at 06:07 (603 days old) by polkanut (Wausau, WI )        
re: "The Homecoming"

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Here's a listing of the actors and the parts they played in the original pilot/movie. Andrew Duggan played the part of John Walton.


Post# 917986 , Reply# 18   1/28/2017 at 14:07 (600 days old) by rapunzel (Sydney)        
Somebody call the ASPCA

That's the saddest looking cactus I've ever seen. HOW COULD YOU?! I'm gonna be sobbing all day now.

Post# 917995 , Reply# 19   1/28/2017 at 15:46 (599 days old) by perc-o-prince (Southboro, Mass)        

Rich's mom had one that was 3 different plants of different colors (IIRC) in one pot and it was pretty big. When they moved about 8 years ago, Bobby D ended up with it and put it in his office. Last I heard it was huge and happy. Maybe we can get him to post a pic.

Glad you were able to save yours, Ralph!


Post# 918047 , Reply# 20   1/29/2017 at 01:12 (599 days old) by rp2813 (The Big Blue Bubble)        

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I'm currently visiting my sister in L.A. but did manage to repot the cactus before I left. I'll post pix after I get back. I don't want to leave! Sunny and warm here with 75 expected tomorrow.

Post# 990118 , Reply# 21   4/9/2018 at 23:32 by MattL (Flushing, MI)        

Just thought I'd revive and old thread. Wondering if anyone has had a CC double bloom? Mine bloomed at Christmas, got the timing right and now it decided to bloom again. Had it in full bloom for Easter, odd for me.

I'm thinking I really need to repot it, possibly divide it, it looks like it might burst the plastic hanging pot I have it in. Odds are it's 10-12 years now. I would prefer to keep it in a hanging pot, so dividing might make sense.

Post# 990130 , Reply# 22   4/10/2018 at 01:14 by RP2813 (The Big Blue Bubble)        

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Matt, I'm not so sure that dividing it would be the best thing, unless it's clearly two or more plants in the one pot.   Mine was in the same size pot from the day I found it until it blew over 33 years later, but as I mentioned above, it seemed like it was finally ready for a larger pot before the mishap.


I never took pictures of it in its larger pot, so will get some shots that will capture the new growth from the snapped ends.   It is much happier in its larger container.


I've never had my CC bloom more than once.  I know some friends with a red orchid cactus (a started cutting that I gave them)  that provided a second round of blooms during this past summer, though.  None of my orchid cacti have bloomed more than once either.


Post# 990197 , Reply# 23   4/10/2018 at 12:21 by MattL (Flushing, MI)        

Thanks, I'll have to look for a bigger pot rather than dividing.  Mine is red with double flowers.

Post# 990215 , Reply# 24   4/10/2018 at 14:26 by RP2813 (The Big Blue Bubble)        
Overdue Follow-Up

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Here are some shots of the cactus in what may turn out to be its forever home.  It's a deep, very heavy, tapered square shaped terracotta pot.  I may have to come up with a suitable pedestal for it soon.  The three-legged stand it was in when it blew over is on the left, currently home to a spindly gardenia that's languishing in too much shade.


You can see the shiny green new growth that sprouted from the areas where branches snapped off when the plant fell.  It seems to be quite happy in its new pot.

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Post# 990258 , Reply# 25   4/11/2018 at 00:34 by MattL (Flushing, MI)        
Photos of mine...

Here are a few shots of my plant, smaller than yours by quite a bit...

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Post# 990262 , Reply# 26   4/11/2018 at 02:33 by RP2813 (The Big Blue Bubble)        

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Matt, that is a beautiful plant!  It's an impressive size for living indoors, and it appears to be very healthy and well cared-for.   The double blossoms are truly special.  I don't recall seeing anything like it before.


I'd say to wait to re-pot unless the roots are pushing the plant up and out of the pot.  These plants can become very heavy, so just be sure the pot and plastic hanger aren't getting brittle.  It's best to suspend them with something more secure.   I just last week placed one of my hanging orchid cacti, weathered plastic pot and all, into a metal hanging basket that would normally be used with one of those coco-liner things inside it.  It was so heavy and lopsided that it was a disaster waiting to happen.

Post# 990309 , Reply# 27   4/11/2018 at 12:18 by MattL (Flushing, MI)        

I have worried about the weight, at the moment it's pretty stable, but I will need to look for an alternative as the plastic gets brittle with age.  I might do as you did with the metal basket, or I might just buy some fine hanger chain and make two big loops and run it under the pot back up to the hook.

Post# 990321 , Reply# 28   4/11/2018 at 15:12 by RP2813 (The Big Blue Bubble)        

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For sure Matt.  Making a cradle for the existing pot is what my friends did with their giant orchid cactus.  It must weigh at least 50 pounds considering its size.

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