Not so Christmas cactus! After doing some research for this post I understand these two guys are actually thanksgiving cactus! I have to tell you that was a shocker! What I learned is that it comes down to the leaf and the ‘normal flowering time’. A Christmas cactus (schumbergera buckleyi) has more rounded scalloped ‘leaf’ (these are actually segmented stems) and the thanksgiving version (schlumbergera truncata) has more spiked stem segment. All my guys have the spiked leaves! It looks like this confusion comes from bad labels in the industry calling them all either Christmas or Zygo, both incorrectly. In general the thanksgiving version flowers more into November and the Christmas version in December. Both can be ‘programmed’ to flower when you want - In theory! I have never done this (way to much fussing for me) but I know it involves controlling light levels starting in September. Have you tried? Mine always get a summer vacation outside, a north or east sheltered location is a must! No direct sun. They are fairly flexible in winter as to light levels, but a dark leaf can mean too much sun. In the wild they grow in trees in Brazil so think of a shady forest! They also appreciate a relatively cool room at 10-15 degrees celsius at night or they may drop the flower buds. In the wild they get nutrient dense leaf mold, so these guys definitely like a good feeding during growing season (starting in spring until they bud). As far as watering, much like a succulent (scroll back to see my succulent post on watering). Underwater and the stems will turn dark and look soft and sad. Over water and they will rot at the soil level, so pay attention! If they are happy you will often get another flowering in spring! Comment with photos of yours! If anyone thinks they have an actual Christmas cactus, please let me know I would love to do a plant swap for a piece! My big one is at least 25 years old and I expect to pass it on to my daughter as they can easily live 100 years. Do you get yours from a grandma?
Hoya Carnosa Compacta is this weeks house plant! She is an interesting one, there are many other varieties of Hoya, different sized and shapes of leaf all pretty waxy. They are also known as wax plant or wax flower. She indeed has lovely highly scented flowers if she is happy! I have had this one for a few years, but I understand that they can live for decades. She has an odd growth habit as the growing tip looks like a dead twig and then the leaves fill in later. Don’t cut it off! She can either be a shelve plant like mine where i just keep wrapping the long ropes around or you could treat her as a hanging plant and have the ropes hanging down. A very tough plant that does well with the right kind neglect ha ha! Great for an office as she likes artificial lighting just fine. Bright indirect light is best. Mine is three feet from a south facing window and in summer gets bright light only, and in the winter a few hours of full sun. A west or east window would also be fine. As far as water, she is similar to succulents. If you missed my post on them last month scroll back for more details. In short water only every 4 or 6 weeks in winter when it is totally dry, then water well! They do best in a natural terracotta or stone pot with drainage. Do you have one of these? One at the office that has been there forever? You can take cuttings (best in spring) and just pop them into water.
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