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Blooming Zygocacti

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Zygocactus flower 2017.jpg

It is this time of the year again when the Zygocacti (Schlumbergera truncata) are in full bloom. The unusual colourful blooms are prolific and very pretty to look at. They surely brighten up cold and gloomy winter days. The drooping down flowers are perfect for hanging pots.

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Zygocactus 2016

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Zygocactus - Small Red

Zygocactus, Crab’s claw cactus (Schlumbergera truncata) dikenal dengan nama  Christmas cactus dibelahan bumi bagian utara. Di Australia, jenis kaktus epifit ini berbunga di akhir musim gugur dan musim dingin yang jatuh pada bulan Mei s/d Agustus. Karena tidak berbunga disekitar hari Natal di bulan Desember, kami di Australia tidak menyebutnya dengan nama Christmas cactus, Untuk selanjutnya

Late Autumn 2015

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13/05/2015: Snow flurries in May?? It is snowing on Mount Dandenong, Kinglake, Toolangi, north-east of Melbourne and on top of Mount William, in the Grampians. Overnight temperature was around 6 deg. C and now it is 10.4 deg. with on-offrains and hails.

Snow near Toolangi

Snow near Toolangi

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Pear Tree in late Autumn

Pear Tree in late Autumn

Windy, wet and cold Autumn…………..Today will have a chance of hail and storm. Our pear trees are displaying brilliant autumn colours. Most of the leaves are still intact. Some of the Cymbidium orchids have developed some flower spikes, but my prediction is that quite a few of them will not flower this blooming season as most of the new bulbs are still too young. The biggest surprise is that the Beallara ‘Eurostar’ is suddenly having a spike (about a month ago was still none), while the Dancing Lady still has not shown any flower growth.  More

More Autumn Blooms….

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The mystery yellow Epiphyllum is flowering much too early….. a real nice surprise! The medium size blooms are soft yellow with very soft sweet smell. The cutting that I planted last year is growing and also having few flower buds.

More flowering  Zygocacti ( Schlumbergera sp.):

What I like best of autumn flower ‘Chrysanthemums’ is the long lasting blooms. Even as cutting flowers in a vase, they can last more than two weeks! More Chrysanthemums from our garden:

My Mother’s Day Present:)

Fully open mauve Chrysanthemums

The first Cymbidium with tiny flower buds poking out of the tip of the spikes!

Sunrise Cactus

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The name of Sunrise cactus comes from the fact that the flowers will start to burst open in the morning when the sun rises and will close again when the sun goes down. So if you keep the plant indoor when it is flowering and it is too dark, the flowers will never open.  This flowering jungle cactus is also called Easter cactus, Spring cactus and it’s botanic name is Rhipsalidopsis gaertneri.

Sunrise cactus is a distant cousin of Zygo cactus (Schlumbergera truncata, Crab Claw cactus).  The easiest way to tell the difference between the two is by looking at the stems and the flowers. Sunrise cactus stems are rounder in shape while Zygo cactus stems look a little bit like crab claws. If you look at the pictures of the two different stems, the left one with rounder stems are Sunrise cactus and the right one is Zygo cactus. Sunrise cactus flowers are star shaped and only open during the day, while Zygocactus flowers are irregular tubular in shape and keep on open during the night. The pictures of two different flowers, left is Sunrise cactus and right picture is Zygo cactus.

Both these jungle epiphytic cacti are native to mainly the rainforest of Brazil, so they both need very similar growing requirements. I have them, but from my very own experience, Sunrise cactus is harder to grow compared to Zygo cactus. Sunrise cactus is more sensitive to sudden changes of location. For example if your Sunrise cactus is already happy and thriving in one location, it may not so if you move it to other place. All of sudden the stems will all droopy in the new place. I don’t really know why, but maybe in the new place the amount of light and humidity is not exactly the same.

This time of the year, it is the end of autumn here in Australia, and my Sunrise cacti have plenty of ripe fruits. I have already picked them and later I will try to grow them. I know it will be easier to transplant few stems, but I am curious to try growing them from seeds.

  • Sunrise Cactus, Rhipsalidopsis gaertneri, Easter Cactus, Spring Cactus
  • Flowering time: Spring
  • Pot, Containers or hanging basket only
  • Best temperature 10 – 34 deg Celsius (50-75 deg F)
  • Need high humidity
  • Indirect sunlight
  • Growing media:  cactus mix (but I use 1 part of orchid barks and 1 part of potting mix)
  • Tap water is better as rain water can be too acidic. Avoid using water that is too cold.
  • Need longer cold dark nights during the winter time for the plant to flower well.
  • Propagation by transplanting stem cuttings or by using seeds.

Blooming Zygo Cacti – 2011

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We have been having strange weather lately. For the last few weeks the sun hardly ever shined at all and today is very much the same. It seemed that the days were short and dark, and it is a very good condition for Zygo cactus (Schlumbergera truncata, Christmas Cactus) to grow more flowers. Yes, it is said that in order to bloom better, zygos need longer darkness before the flower buds start to grow in Autumn.

I noticed that the sudden chills lately changed the colour of our white zygo (and other light colours). Although the flower buds haven’t opened yet, I can see that they will have a slightly pinkish tint to the normally white colour. I will take more pictures when the flowers open.

Even though this year all the zygos produce much more flower buds compared to last year, the lack of sunshine makes them very slow to open and once they open they will wilt quickly.

As a member of jungle cactus, zygo cactus need to be trimmed by breaking the segments. Do this after finish flowering. This way it will encourage the plant to grow more stems. With more stems, the plant will grow bushy and will bear more flowers as each flower grows from the tip. The cuttings can be planted by sticking them (bottom part down) in potting mix in a pot. You will see that the next year you will have more new plants to share with family and friends.

Once I read that zygo cacti can grow for a long time and it can be passed down from generation to generation. If you love potted plants, zygo cacti are very easy to grow and will look very good in hanging pots. They will need well drain potting media ( I use half regular potting mix and half orchid mix). Slow released complete fertilizer can be added during the growing season in Spring. The best location for places with moderate climate is a shady spot, while in very cold climate can be grown as indoor plant. When the plants are not in growing season, water only when the soil is dry.

To go to previous entry on Zygo Cactus: https://kiyanti2008.wordpress.com/2010/05/26/our-blooming-zygos/

 

Our Blooming Zygos

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When I posted a blog about ‘our jungle cacti’ back in November last year, the zygo cacti were not in flower. Obviously here in Melbourne (Australia), zygos flower in late May (which is the last month of autumn) to winter time. While Epiphyllum and Rhipsalidopsis flower around November to December.

In the Northern part of the world, zygocactus is also called Christmas cactus, but here in Australia during Christmas time, zygos are not in blooms at all. For this reason, I suppose here we don’t call this plant Christmas cactus.

The most common zygocacti that available here are from the species Schlumbergera truncata. It is also called Zygocactus truncatus. Other common species are S. bridgesii and S. reginae. They are available in various hybrids in many shades of colours; red, pink, mauve, salmon, white and purple.

All zygocactus plants are characterized by soft and thick leaves that grow in segments with pointed parts that make them look like crab claws. This is why zygocactus is also called Crab’s claw cactus.

In the wild in Southeast of Brazil, these jungle cacti are epiphytes which grow in tree hollows and crevices in the jungle.

Growing requirements:

  • To be grown in containers such as hanging baskets or pots.
  • Well drain potting mix (I use half good grade potting mix and half orchid mix).
  • Fertilize during growing season with complete slow release fertilizer. (I use the same fertilizer for orchids lately, and it seems that it works quite well).
  • Water well only when soil starts to dry.
  • Partly shade position away from frost. Never indoor as it needs cool night air to bloom.
  • As the flowers grow only from the tip of the leaves, it is necessary to prune by breaking segments of the leaves to encourage new branches to grow.
  • Can be propagated from section/segment cuttings in propagating soil.

Some people believe that zygocactus will not flower well if it receives too much light at night. So it is better to keep them away from street lights or other outdoor lights. I am not so sure if it is true or it is just a myth.

Link for my previous post about Jungle Cacti:

https://kiyanti2008.wordpress.com/2009/11/06/our-jungle-cacti/

Note (added May 27): For those who live in colder zones, this is a good link to read how to grow zygocactus:

http://www.helium.com/items/159095-growing-christmas-cactus

Happy Gardening!!