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Christmas cactus (assisted?) suicide?

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by rosiejane on June 15, 2006 12:44 PM
I was given a Christmas cactus last november. It has been shrivveled & droopy for quite sometime now and I'm not quite sure what I'm doing wrong. I have read up on them and have watered it more than a reg. cactus (once a weekish) kept it out of direct sunlight, and in a draining pot. (the pot is plastic however) I have fertilized it a few times this spring with a bit of worm compost fertilizer and a bit of 0-0-1 seeweed fert. (i was told at the nursery this was good for building a strong cactus).
Recently, all the 'leaves' have beeen drooping over to one side of the pot and today I went to look at it, and bumped it a tiny bit and the main stem broke off at the base! [shocked] there is still another smaller stem attatched but it is quite shrivveled.
what could I be doing wrong? [dunno]

and now what should i do with it? there is a tiny bit of the stem still holding on. should I just try to prop it up and hope it bonds itsself back together or should I attempt to propogate from this stem?

please help!

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by joclyn on June 15, 2006 01:42 PM
you should be able to propagate from the stem.

i've always just stuck it in some water and, when the roots are big enough, potted it.

watering too much or too little will cause problems for these guys. and when you do water them, you want to make sure you give them a good deep soak. i usually put some water on the soil and let it soak down and then add more water and let it soak in. as soon as the tiniest drop starts coming out of the drain hole, that's it for the watering - and i set it on something so that the excess water can drain out.

water every 10 days or so. i've never fed much - i use peter's general purpose brand and i mix it up as per package instructions and then thin it out some when applying to plants (i customize the level of watering down to whatever plants i'm feeding). and i never feed more than once a month.

actually, this time of year is the christmas cactus dormant period. you shouldn't feed it at all and waterings should be extended to at least every three can start watering more frequently in sept and start feeding it again at that time.
by gardeningmomma on June 15, 2006 03:51 PM
I didn't know they were dormant now. I gave mine some feed last week. Hopefully it will be okay...
by joclyn on June 15, 2006 06:34 PM
one feed treatment is not really going to do any damage...i wouldn't feed again until the end of sept/beginning of oct, tho.
by Tonya on June 16, 2006 02:11 AM
Good to know that they are dormant now...I was wondering why mine had stopped growing...Thanks joclyn!

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 - Bote and Babe's World
by joclyn on June 16, 2006 04:18 AM
you're welcome!
by rosiejane on June 16, 2006 04:44 AM
Great! Thank you so much!
one question though, when you say at least every 3 weeks..... should I aim for that (beacuase it is dormant and needs less water?) or proceed with the normal 10 dayish watering?

ooh, actually 2 more questions...
Do you think the roots in water will grow in very slowly since it is the dormant period?

I was propogating from another small stem, but I was treating it more like a cactus. that is, not putting it in water but letting the stub callous over and then putting it in some soil a few hours later. is this not going to yield any results?

Thanks again!

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by TomR on June 17, 2006 03:52 AM
What do you mean they are dormant now? They should be pushing new growth. Also, water well when the soil dries out and feed with a better fertilzer, like a 10-10-10 or 20-20-20. I feed mine 1/4 - 1/2 strength Miracle grow every other watering. Bright light.


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My memory's not as sharp as it used to be. Also, my memory's not as sharp as it used to be.
by Garden Lady In Maine on June 27, 2006 01:44 AM
As far as the Christmas Cactus goes, I'm having the same problem, I was wondering about replanting it. This is a very old cactus, it was passed down to me when my Grandmother passed away six years ago. I would hate to lose it. What do you think about repotting?
by daygotee71 on July 09, 2006 05:09 PM
I never have had luck myself with christmas cactus. I'd buy them with all kinds of their little flowers on them, and later on they all fall off and i can't seem to get them to rebud anymore. Either i just don't have a green thumb or they seem to me, hard to care for.
by margaret e. pell on July 17, 2006 05:26 PM
Flowering is an hours of daylight thing, and they are fussy about it. Very fussy. This I can deal with (dark closets come in handy ~Oct/Nov) if they live through the summer. I've basically stopped trying to grow them since they all get the 'fragile wilts.' I'm wondering if it's some sort of plant virus. Many years ago (6ish) I lost a large, old, beautiful one that just sort of fell apart. I found a site that spoke of a virus that affected them. ~3 years ago I decided, with this knowledge, I'd try again. Not only have I been unable to keep one alive long term, but I can't find anything on the web anymore that talks about the problem. I'm at a loss. Hope someone can help, apparently many can commiserate!

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may God bless the WHOLE world!
by DowntoEarth on July 18, 2006 05:28 PM
The shorter daylight hours and cooler temps in the fall will set buds.
A warm room and not watering right can cause buds to drop, or cause them to never develop at all.

I have always read that these plants are dormant twice a year, a month in Sept or Oct (not sure which one) and also the month after flowering, and we should stop watering for a month those two times, something I have never followed.

They are best kept on the root-bound side. Re-potting, growing in too big a pot, keeping the room too warm, or exposed to artificial lights can cause your Christmas cactus to lose buds or not to set buds at all.

This way has always worked for me....

I always keep mine outdoors all summer where it gets about an hour of morning sun, the rest of the day it gets bright shade.
I water when the soil is dry, no matter what month it is and lightly fertilize it with each watering up until the buds appear in the fall, then stop feeding, no fertilizer again until spring.
Sometimes I wouldn't have to water for a month when it's in flower because the coolness keeps the soil moist longer.

While in flower, you'll want the soil to get "close" to dry. Other times, let it dry out more. You'll need to ck the soil.

Natural light only, no grow lights, or any lamp lights nearby on at night. If you can't avoid lamp lighting, you can always cover it at night, then take the cover off in the morning.
Keep it where it will be cool though, 60 degrees or below.
I think it can do well even down to 30 degrees, but I wouldn't push it! If you have one, a spare room would be a good place, put it by a window with (indirect light) use a towel or something that you can block the heating vent with so it stays cool.
I have had mine in the 45 degree range and it was blooming it's head off!

Turn it only when the buds have reached about an inch in length, they are stronger by then at the point where they are attached to the leaves. If they are smaller, turning could cause the buds to drop as they turn their little heads in the opposite direction toward the light, [Wink] causing them to detach.

In the spring, just resume the way you where watering and feeding before it set buds and flowered.

by ladyslippers on July 28, 2006 12:30 PM
Thanks Susan, I had a question about my christmas cactus's and seem to have covered my problems. I have some very large ones and some smaller newer ones. I keep them outside in the summer and when I bring them in I used to have good luck with them blossoming nicely. But now that they are bigger I have them in a different room inside and it sounds like it is too warm a room for them. Last winter they didn't blossom that well. I guess I will have to rethink where to put them when I bring them in. I was thinking about starting new ones from them and throwing the big plants out, but really didn't want to as they seem healthy, but would like more blooms. Thanks again for the info.

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so much to do so little time
by dodge on August 03, 2006 01:30 PM
Hark to all of you..................

if your feeding christmas cactus your killing it ..
It requires no special treatment, and loves being root bound......Mine are growing new shoots all over right now , and they are in the shade outside, and inside some are in venetian blind territory...........Never lost one yet..
TO root all you have to do is push it into the soil ......Any time of the year......
They bloom 2 times a year......And love to be crowded.. There are 2 types I know of.

dodge [wavey] [Love]

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''''Those who live in the Lord Never See Each Other For The Last Time!''''
by dodge on August 05, 2006 01:21 AM
rosie jane and all of you

Here is my cactus I started from seeds about 7 years ago....
Never removed it from the pot yet.. I did give some away, i had about 13 in there.
I do have others received from texas adn huge.

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''''Those who live in the Lord Never See Each Other For The Last Time!''''

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