The Christmas Cactus

The Christmas cactus is such an interesting little plant. They have flat odd oval shaped leaves.  The stems grow in all directions with no apparent rhyme or reason. In the late fall they develop lovely buds which usually open during the winter holidays when they then  become an amazingly beautiful plant. There are no pricklies as you would find in a more traditional cactus.

The Christmas cactus is officially called Schlumbergera which grows wild in the jungles near Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  As a houseplant, you will often find them growing on a California patio or living room just about anyplace  where they can  thrive with proper care. The key to getting a Christmas cactus to flower during the holiday season  is the correct light exposure and temperatures with limited watering. As with most succulents and cactus, too much watering can make them soggy or even kill them.  In the fall months, the Christmas cactus should receive indirect bright light during the day with total darkness at night.  They often start blooming in late November and may continue on into January. The fiery blooms may be red, white or various shades of pink. The blooms last longer at about 45 to 70 degrees.

My mother in law lives near the Mississippi River and has the most beautiful Christmas cactus you have ever seen. It is always lush and full of green foliage when we visit each year but I have never been around when it blooms.

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I had her send me a picture.

The recent warmer fall  weather in the Midwest may have caused the late blooms this year. She has given me pieces to take home to grow my own cactus but I have had no success in getting one to start. My sister also has a Christmas cactus. Hers bloom magnificently during the holiday season.

This year, however, she has no blooms at all.

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She says it is in mourning because of the loss of our sister. Can plants be intuitive this way?  I have no idea but two years ago it looked like this…

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…and last year like this.

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This year it is simply drooping.

We were all drooping a little this Christmas.

When visiting recently, I asked if I could have a piece of the cactus to take home and try once again to grow one from a cutting. She said she could do even better!  She has a friend whose father starts Christmas cactus all the time and was certain he’d be delighted to give me one. Sure enough, a week later I had my own Christmas cactus.

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Now I would hardly call it a start. I would more call it a young plant and I am thrilled. The trick will be to see if I can keep it alive.  One of my goals this year is to increase the number of houseplants I have. Last year I started with a few small ones…

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and so far so good.

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I love African Violets and I think this one may actually bloom.

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The antique cup with the succulent was a gift.

In the past I have had some moderate success growing houseplants. We have some nosey cats now and I need to be sure the plants are either out of reach or non toxic. The Christmas cactus in non toxic.

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(Delilah, my faithful feline companion)

Houseplants is a newer hobby I am pursuing in my retirement. Not only are indoor plants pleasing to the eye, but during photosynthesis they absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen. They increase humidity in the air around them, help purify the air, and some think even offer other health benefits-even boost healing!

I am going to try to propagate another plant from a cutting but for the moment, I will just enjoy and embrace my beautiful Christmas cactus.

Check back in 6 months and I’ll let you know how I’m doing!

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All is quiet on the home front

I suppose it happens to the best of writers, the novice writers, bloggers, and just about anyone else that writes. Now It has happened to me. I have nothing to write about.

I stare at the blank page and try to think of something interesting to say. Unlike  Gwendoline, excited about an actual book she is having published, I cannot even seem to complete an actual post much less an entire book! With my very generic name-mommermom-I could write about anything really. I was going to update my cheesy-zucchini-rice. Getting all excited about sharing it, I took pictures and wrote down the changes but then it hardly seemed worth mentioning in a full post. If I were a more confident seamstress I could post another sewing tutorial or offer an update on the project I am currently working on-sewing 150 of my zippered bags.

wpid-20150605_080640.jpgIf I were a true gardening blog, I would tell you marvelous stories about our little garden and how exciting it is to cook up some fresh zucchini.

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(which I may still do as the garden yields more veggies). Sarah over at Coffee to Compost helps to keep me motivated.

I could share the sad saga of our cat,

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that we had put down after 16 years of being a faithful and beloved pet. There has been no vacation this year as we stayed home and nursed our ailing Kitty Boy until the end.

If I were a great photographer like Two Trails One Road ,  I might share some amazing photos.  I could post about the weather (again) but with all the heartache, flooding, and weather related tragedies going on in so many places, it seems a little shallow to talk about the May gray that is now turned into June gloom.

I take time to read many blogs and have chuckled to wonder what happened to Marlene’s grinder  or the next gorgeous painting taking shape over at The Contented Crafter, what adorable sewing projects Scooby or Sewlovable have stitched up or delightful recipes Rosemarie’s Kitchen has shared. Masgautsen might have taken another delightful trip or an enjoyable long weekend. She always seems to have such fun.  Lani recently got back from a beautiful Hawaiian vacation and I envy how comfortable she is in far away lands! I could tout the joy of retirement (which only gets better) but that can soon become an old topic for those who have been at it awhile or those who get up early to head off to work. Colin is no longer tramping in the woods but has moved on with an exciting new blog and Stonecrop Sister is also making changes to her blog. I too would like to make changes but am at somewhat of a loss as to the more technical aspects of WordPress.

Actually, life is good. Thommmee, 12 grandchildren, 6 grown kids, our large family, wonderful friends, church activities, gardening, sewing, cooking, catching up with many more blogs, and life in general keep me plenty busy! I have even started reading again.

Right now…

I just don’t seem to have much to say…