Care For Christmas Cactus|Space Gardening

Good Christmas cactus care will ensure beautiful blooms in time for the holidays.

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This tropical cactus does not exist in the wild. It is a hybrid of Schlumbergera truncata and Schlumbergera russelliana that grow as epiphytes in the rain forests of South America.

Schlumbergera bridgesii has dark-green flattened stems composed of segments joined in a scalloped pattern. Flowers appear at the tips of the stems and are available in shades of pink, red, purple, yellow, and white. Newer cultivars bring together two colors, offering some exciting new combinations.

After your Christmas Cactus is through flowering for the season, it needs about a one-month rest. Water sparingly and stop fertilizing until new growth begins in spring.

Regular pruning will encourage the plant to branch out where the stem was cut, creating a fuller plant. Spring is the best time to prune it back, when it begins actively growing again.

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How to Get Christmas Cactus to Bloom Again

Growing this plant is easy, but there are a few things you should do to make it bloom before the holidays.

  • Shorter, cooler days and nights for about 8-10 weeks are needed for the plant to set buds. Moving it outdoors in fall is ideal, just keep it out of direct sun. Bring the plant back inside before the first frost.
  • Keep soil barely moist, but not too dry. Shriveled, limp stems are a sign that it’s too dry.
  • Once it starts budding, keep the plant in the same location. Changes in light and temperature by moving it around will cause it to drop its buds and flowers. Also keep it away from drafty areas like doorways and heat vents.

Repotting Christmas cactus plant is usually only necessary every 2 to 3 years. It prefers to be slightly pot-bound and blooms best this way. Wait till spring or early summer to repot — never while it’s blooming.

Christmas Cactus Care Tips

Origin: Hybrid with parents native to Brazil

Height: To 2 ft (60 cm)

Light: Bright indirect light

Water: Keep the soil moist, but not soggy while plant is growing. After flowering, water sparingly until new growth begins in spring.

Humidity: Moderate — about 50-60% relative humidity. Stand the pot on a dish of wet pebbles.

Temperature: To set flower buds, the plant needs cool 60-65°F/16-18°C days and 45-55°F/7-13°C nights. Once buds set, 70-75°F/21-24°C days and 60-70°F/16-21°C nights.

Soil: Well-drained potting medium is essential. Mix 1 part potting mix and 1 part fine-grade fir bark.

Fertilizer: Feed every 2 weeks with a balanced liquid fertilizer diluted by half. After blooms have dropped, stop fertilizing for a month.

Propagation: Take stem segments in spring and place upright in moist perlite.

Indoor Crocus Bulb|Space Gardening

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Crocus flowers are among the first to herald spring, sometimes popping their bright blooms through the snow. Fortunately, we don’t have to wait till spring to enjoy these glorious flowers. Growing crocus indoors is easy to do by forcing them into bloom mid-winter. Start the process in fall — October is an ideal time. A crocus bulb is actually a corm. Corms produce beautiful cup-shaped blooms in purple, lavender, white or yellow — plain or striped — each with a bright orange stigma. All have slender, upright leaves that are green and white striped.

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Crocuses need a cold treatment for 12 weeks to bloom. If you bought pre-chilled corms, you can skip this step.

  1. Choose a shallow pot (at least 3 in/7 cm deep) with drainage holes in the bottom. Fill the pot loosely with potting mix. Set several corms side by side — close but not touching — pointed end up. Set corms so that their tips are even with pot rim. Do not press the corms into the mix. It should be loose so the roots can grow through it easily. Cover with additional potting mix until just barely covered.
  2. Water thoroughly and discard drainage.
  3. Move pot to a dark, cool, but not freezing, (40°F/4°C) location such as a basement, unheated garage or refrigerator. Avoid storing corms near ripening fruit or vegetables which give off ethylene gas which can damage the corms. Keep them in cold storage for about 12 weeks. Keep the medium barely moist.
  4. When shoots reach about 2 in (5 cm) tall, bring the pot out of cold storage and place it in a slightly warmer (50°F/10°C) location with low light intensity. Over the next few days, gradually move it toward a sunny window. Turn the pot every day for even growth. When in full bloom, keep crocuses in a bright location out of direct sun to prolong the bloom.

Crocus Care Tips

crocus, crocus bulbs, crocus flowersOrigin: Hybrids with corms originating from Europe, North Africa and Asia

Height: Up to 8 in (20 cm)

Light: Keep in a dark location during cold treatment. Cover pot with a box, pot or black garbage bag if necessary. After shoots appear, move to bright light with some direct sun as directed above.

Water: Water sparingly until growth appears, then water enough to keep soil evenly moist. Flowering plants are thirsty, so check them often.

Humidity: Average room humidity.

Temperature: Cool to average (40-60°F/6-16°C)

Soil: Any good potting mix.

Fertilizer: Feed monthly with a balanced liquid fertilizer diluted by half from planting until start of blooming. Do not fertilize while plants are in bloom.

Propagation: Corms will not bloom a second time indoors. They do produce offsets, but they take a few years to mature. If you want to keep them, allow the foliage to die back naturally, then store them in a cool, dry place. Plant the corms in your flower garden in the fall and let Mother Nature take care of them. They’ll bloom when they’re ready.

 

Growing Citrus:5 Tips|Space Gardening

Growing Citrus Indoors

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As someone who’s obsessed with citrus fruit, I can’t imagine not having fresh satsumas or Washington navels during the holidays. The scent of the blossoms alone will instantly put me in a good mood. For those in less ideal citrus climates, you need not feel left out! You can grow the dwarf varieties of these trees indoors and reap the benefits by following a few simple steps:

1. Buy the right tree. Calamondin Orange, Improved Meyer Lemon, Ponderosa Lemon, Eureka Lemon, Persian or Bearss Lime, Eustis Limequat, Rangpur Lime, Otaheite Orange, Nippon Orangequat are all great varieties for beginning indoor cultivators.

2. Soil needs to be the correct pH and promote proper drainage. A range of 5-8 is best. You can get a pH test kit from your local nursery. A mixture of 1 part sand, 1 part peat and 1 part bark, perlite or vermiculite will serve your tree well. The soil should be loose enough to permit adequate but not excessive drainage. Any type of pot will do, but a 1″ – 2″ layer of gravel at the bottom of the pot will most readily promote drainage.

3. Citrus trees require a minimum of 5 hour of sunlight per day. Ideally, they should get 10-12. Supplemental lighting in the form of high intensity discharge lighting can be used to maximize your yield. One important thing to keep in mind is to slowly acclimate your trees if taking them from the outdoors to indoors for winter. Though acclimation isn’t necessary if only bringing them in for a few days to prevent freezing.

4. Humidity. Citrus trees will drop their leaves if the humidity grows too low in an indoor environment. Ideal humidity should be at 45 – 50%. Use a humidifier, if necessary.

5. Regular watering is necessary for your tree’s survival. When the top 2 inches of soil are dry, water (but don’t soak) the tree. If water pools in the saucer, empty the saucer. During warm summer months, you may need to water as often as twice daily. During winter months, water much more sparingly.