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Beginning to look a lot like cacti.

Byline: Paul Rogers

COLUMN: Your gardening answers

Thanksgiving, Christmas or Easter cacti - which ones are you growing? Actually, we would be better served to call all of the different types "holiday cactus." For the homeowner, the major feature of interest is when they bloom.

What determines the formation of flower buds on these holiday cacti? The answer is partly internal genetics, partly temperature and partly daylength. Each aspect exerts an effect on the other determinates. However, if you have a holiday cacti that is not already displaying flower buds or open blooms, it is likely too late to expect flowers for Thanksgiving.

Now is the time to think Christmas blooms. Whatever the color - pink, orchid, orange or gold - your plant should be exposed to the best light possible from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. and to complete darkness each night in a location (and this is of critical importance) where the temperature is lower than 55 degrees and above 40 degrees.

The plant should be watered normally. No fertilizer should be provided during the six weeks that are needed to initiate flower buds. Once the flower buds develop to about one-third of an inch long, the plant no longer needs to be manipulated as to daylength, but still should be kept away from heat sources, including hot drafts.

As for the Easter cacti, they are just Thanksgiving cacti that are blooming a second time. There are other holiday cacti, but the crab or lobster claw cacti, Zygocactus or Schlumbergera, species of each or hybrids of both are the more familiar types. All are fun to grow and a joy to see in bloom.
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Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Nov 11, 2010
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