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Quite Confused Christmas Cacti

June 9, 2010

… or maybe Thanksgiving Cacti – as I mentioned in an earlier post, German – my native language – doesn’t have that distinction, since we do not celebrate Thanksgiving over here.

Either way, I put my two Schlumbergeras out into the staircase, which is a lot brighter than my room, in the hope that they’d grow a bit. As it turned out, the staircase was also still cool enough, and the days short enough, that the Christmas cacti started to bloom.


It’s still pathetically small, this one, considering how long I’ve had it. I’m reasonably sure I already had it back in Secondary School – I certainly had a Christmas Cactus then, because one of my clearest memories from that time is walking home from school with my best friend, near the end of the school year, carrying that plant and ranting aboutmy teacher almost killing it (I’d brought some plants to school for our classroom). I suspected sunburn and under-watering,  but since that was about ten years ago, I can’t say for sure.

I can’t have been more than thirteen then, because by the end of my last year at that school, when I was fourteen, it had recovered enough that I could take cuttings to give to all my teachers as I said goodbye – well, almost all. Evil Ms B., the almost-plant-murderer, didn’t get one.

Still, the plant remained small and unhappy. When I got my camera (Christmas 2006), I enthusiastically took pictures of plants, and one of them proves that the poor Schlumbergera was even tinier than it had been five or six years previously.*

Really hasn’t grown much since then – nowhere near as much as it should have grown in four-and-a-half years, but it’s comforting to know it’s grown at all. And when I finally repotted it before I moved it to the staircase, I discovered the soil (which wasn’t good to begin with… no, I won’t tell you what I used!) had compacted quite horribly in the you-don’t-want-to-know-how-many years since the last repotting, and the poor plant had hardly any roots left.

Another near-death averted – on to the next ten years! Let’s hope that by then, I’ll hardly be able to imagine it was ever this small!

My other Schlumbergera, the indescribably gorgeous ‘Limelight Dancer’ (which I’ve craved since seeing it in one of my houseplant books, and practically pounced on when I saw it at the garden centre last autumn), only put out one bud, and I didn’t even get any pictures of it when it was open, but I’ve got plenty from last year:

What I bought it for, of course, is the rare yellowish colour. But quite apart from that, aren’t the buds cute? They look like they’re sticking out their tongues!



*There is the possibility that this is not the original plant, but a cutting from it, but I don’t think so. Throwing out plants didn’t stop being traumatic until I started to work in horticulture, and had to throw them away by the wheelbarrow, so I suppose I’d remember that.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. June 11, 2010 04:46

    I’ve always been taught that Christmas cactus and Thanksgiving cactus are quite different. True Christmas cactus is either Schlumbergera bridgesii or a hybrid with most of it’s traits from bridgesii. It has rounded phylloclades much like Easter cactus but the flowers are very similar to Schlumbergera truncata (Thanksgiving cactus). Thanksgiving cactus is the more common one with pointed phylloclades. Christmas cactus is pretty hard to come by though because it is very hard to get to flower compared to the Thanksgiving cactus. Also, bridgesii has radial symmetrical flowers whereas truncata is only bilaterally symmetrical. I’ve never seen the bridgesii for sale in stores though. I’m not really sure where mine even came from but it only blooms about once every two years for me. If I ever remember to I’ll try to post pictures of them side by side so you can see what I’m talking about.

    Either way your plants sure are nice! I just got a yellow one myself. I’m quite excited for it to get large!

    On a side note I assume you are from Germany if German is your native language? I’m an army brat and lived in Kaiserslautern for 3 years when I was really small.

    • June 12, 2010 10:13

      Thanks for the explanation – it seems the one I got from the ex-job back in February is bridgesii, then.

      And I’m Austrian, not German (I don’t know why I like being so vague about where I’m from.)

  2. June 13, 2010 21:12

    Lucky you, I like bridgesii better myself. And oops about the assumption, I often forget about the other countries that are either German speaking or at least have a larger German speaking community. Austria was nice too, from what little I remember!

    • June 15, 2010 18:13

      It’s an easy mistake to make – like I said, I’m being deliberately vague. (Even if I don’t quite know why.)


  1. Another Out-of-Season Flower « Letters & Leaves

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