Sunday, 1 November 2009

Christmas Cactus

It's a dark and wet day here today - these photos were taken at 9am and I needed the flash on the camera, so we are now well and truly into the traditional wet autumn weather. I have been doing some work on the vegetable plot, mainly putting paving stones in to create new edges for the beds. It's slow work as I can only move 3 or 4 in a session due to their weight. Still, the workmen did take them up to the plot for me, which was kind. There's another pile growing outside my house now.

So here are a couple of pictures of my first christmas cactus to flower (click on them for best effect). I have four, and a few years ago they started to reduce in flowering or flower partially at the wrong time. I consulted Dr Hessayon's bible of houseplant care and realised that they weren't getting the right kind of rest period in the summer. You're supposed to put them outside, in the shade, with little water so they can rest. If I put them outside here they would be eaten by the slugs and snails, so I had to think about how I could replicate the conditions. I realised that the coolest and darkest place in the house in the summer is on top of the bookcase in the living room so I moved them there last year. Then last winter I started to give them specialist cactus food, but they still didn't flower. I gave them the same treatment this summer and - hey presto - they are looking healthy and the first two are flowering. A lovely sight in these dark gloomy days.

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