In the Garden: Christmas, cactus and color

Published: Nov. 15, 2020 at 9:39 AM EST
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - In this week’s segment of “In the Garden,” our Sharon Meyer and garden expert Charlie Nardozzi are talking about Christmas, cactuses and color.

Sharon: Charlie, I’ve never seen a Christmas cactus that color before.

Charlie: This is a beautiful one? Now, most people don’t realize but they’re not all Christmas cactus.

Sharon: I didn’t realize that myself.

Charlie: Yes I called them holiday cactus and that’s usually a term used because depending on the type of cactus you get they could be blooming anywhere from Thanksgiving or November all the way up till March or April.

Sharon: So this one’s a little early it’s only November.

Charlie: And when you go to buy these at a garden center you can look at find out which ones are which. Obviously, if it’s blooming now it’s a Thanksgiving cactus. But you can also look at the leaves. If the leaves have little spikes on them little hooks on them.

Sharon: those little pointy things.

Charlie: Those little pointy things that means it’s a Thanksgiving cactus-- a whole different kind of beast. Now the Christmas cactus usually will bloom around Christmas or New Year’s and those will have a little more rounded leaves you can see down here with this one and it’s just got a few buds on it but it’s still early for this one to start flowering. So you could have that one that will bloom around New Year’s and then if you really want to extend it you can get an Easter Cactus.

Sharon: Really, no kidding.

Charlie: So this one won’t do anything till March or April but you can tell this is an Easter cactus because it has these little bristles right there near the leaf segments and very rounded leaves, too. So by having one of each you can have flowers for like six months.

Sharon: That’s amazing.

Charlie: Pretty cool, hunh? Now if you have a special, especially a Thanksgiving or Christmas cactus, and it’s not flowering, there’s a couple things you can still do. You can put it in a cool room Like a 50 or 60° cool room for about 3 to 4 weeks, a bright room obviously, or a three-season porch as long as it doesn’t freeze. And that cool temperature will initiate the flower buds and then you can move it into the house. Or if you have a dark room, if you have a spare bedroom that stays dark at night 12 to 14 hours but bright during the day. Again leave it in there three or four weeks then you’ll see the buds forming Then move it into the room.

Sharon: OK.

Charlie: Other than that, keep them in a place where it’s bright indirect light and when you water them remember that they grow in their native habitat in the jungles of Brazil. They grow like orchids almost hanging on trees and tree crashes.

Sharon: Really?

Charlie: So when you water them, you can water them thoroughly but let it drain really well. It needs really well-drained soil. If you water too much the plant will end up rotting But other than that these are a great plant to have for the holidays and as a houseplant.

Sharon: It’s beautiful!

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