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tlc to christmas cactus

A friend has recently given me a christmas cactus she no longer wants.  It has been left unloved in her house for many years but, surprisingly, it has managed a few flowers in recent weeks.  However, it has been in the same pot for over 12 years and the soil/compost is rock hard.

At present it is on the window sill of an east facing bathroom and, bearing in mind it has actually flowered, I'm assuming this is a suitable place.

I have often admired cc so, can you please advice on the state of the compost and whether to change it. 

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  • LynLyn Posts: 21,864

    I had one like that, I removed it from the pot and used a carving knife to cut it into quarters, pot each bit up separately. Give a good watering.

    I find you cant do any harm to these plants, I have only just brought them indoors, been out all summer and they have started to shoot, 

    A friend of mine keeps hers in her conservatory, its about 3ft accross now, never repotted or fed, a few years ago it was a dreadful (lovely) freezing cold winter and it went soggy we thought it had had it but it all came back and every bit has flowers on it.

    Gardening on the wild, windy west side of Dartmoor. 

  • I have two rescued some years ago from a greengrocer's shelves - he thought they were dead.  I repot them in the spring, removing as much old compost as I can prise off the roots and replacing it with fresh - I use a 50:50 mix of MPC and JI No 3 loambased - because that's what I tend to have about and it seems to work. 

    I leave them outside on the terrace in a semi-shaded spot after the last frost and bring them back in again before the first.  I put the pots in a tray of grit because the snails love them. 

    When they come inside they live on the east facing windowsill of the dining room. They flower their socks off in the winter - when I water them indoors I give them a dose of Baby Bio every now and again, and then they usually  bloom again in the spring.  My two have just finished their winter show. image


    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.





  • Many thanks Philippa, Lyn and Dove for positive instructions.  I do like the idea of being able to divide the plant.  So will keep it in it's present form for a few months and give it some TLC in the Spring.

  • They also strike really easily from cuttings.  I've produced several for family members.  I usually plant three to a pot and that produces a balanced all-around effect.  https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/profile?pid=840


    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.





  • LynLyn Posts: 21,864

    Billie, if its really really packed I think you could safely repot it now. They are very tough old things.

    Gardening on the wild, windy west side of Dartmoor. 

  • Thanks Dove and Lyn for the info.  I enjoy propagating plants so will give that a go in the Spring and think I will repot it now as I'm amazed it has produced flowers.  When I do sparingly water it the water takes ages to sink in..

  • LynLyn Posts: 21,864

    I would give it a good soak initially, Best to stand it in a dish of water and give it time to soak up, its because theres not much soil left in it. You need to do that before you start chopping it about. Then only when it needs it  will you water sparingly. 

    You can get Christmas pressies for all the family off it!!

    Gardening on the wild, windy west side of Dartmoor. 

  • Lyn wrote (see)

    I would give it a good soak initially, Best to stand it in a dish of water and give it time to soak up, its because theres not much soil left in it. ....

    I usually give mine a good soak like that two or three times a year.  Otherwise they don't need much water - I keep them on the damp side of dry - if that makes sense image


    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.





  • Have just looked at it closely and it's sprouted two more buds so will put off dividing it until they have finished flowering.  There are different coloured leaves - some are almost brown and the others are green.  I think, when I was given it, most of the leaves were brownish red but after having watered it several times and now given it a close look it would seem they are all changing to green. 

    Have also just cleaned many years of dust off the leaves, surprising how tough they are, so with my efforts and all your advice I  may have a magnificent speciman(s) for next winter.

    My friend did say she hadn't watered it this year!  I should mention tho' that over the years, when I was working full time and had no interest in gardening, I would also forget about nurturing house plants and have put many, once lovely plants in the dustbin.

  • And another thing - when it's got flower buds try to keep it's position stable and facing the same way all the time so the light falls on it the same way every day - otherwise sometimes it will drop the flower buds.

     


    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.





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