Christmas or Thanksgiving Cactus???

Why do I love Christmas Cactus?

MY VERY OWN CACTUS

Christmas Cacti and hummingbirds were two of nature’s blessings that excited my mother. After my father died she moved to the second floor of an assisted living. It was an adjustment for her. With no trees, she missed her yard with places for hanging hummingbird feeders and their spring and summer”fly-bys”.

Her Christmas cacti did find a loving home, and she moved them around in her apartment until she found just the right amount of sun and shade. Every year, around this time, she would proudly show me their bright-colored blooms.

Albert and I are blessed to live in Colorado where the hummingbirds show up every Mother’s Day and swarm the feeders until October. I love to see the first ones because their arrival is like a message from my Mom! This year, we had one straggler that did not want to fly to warmer ground. We had to force him/her to leave by taking down the feeder. The birds fly south and many follow the Texas coast into Mexico.


BACK TO CACTI!

Reading our newspaper last week, I read an article titled, “Thanksgiving Cacti Are Wonderful Holiday Plants”, written by Linda Corwine McIntosh. It caught my eye because I had never heard of Thanksgiving cacti!

Christmas and Thanksgiving cacti are different species (Christmas cactus is Schlumbergera Buckleyi and Thanksgiving cactus is Schlumbergera Buckleyi). There is even an Easter cactus — Rhipsalidopsis gaertneri.

So, which do I have? You can tell by looking at the shape of the leaf segments. On a Thanksgiving cactus, the segments have 2-4 saw-toothed or pointy projections. The Christmas species has rounder, smoother leaves.

Notice the pointy projections on the leaves of my cactus…

Pointy Leafed Thanksgiving Cactus

Now I know why my cactus blooms earlier than Christmas! Thanksgiving cacti bloom from September to January and have yellowish, salmon, fuchsia, and white flowers (or a combination).

Besides learning how to identify the different species, I learned:

  • how to care for them
  • “trim” them
  • propagate them to give for Christmas gifts.

HOW TO CARE FOR HOLIDAY CACTI

Disclaimer: I am not a great caretaker…I barely remember to give mine water…never move them…don’t fertilize them…and they bloom anyway!

They prefer:

  • direct interior sunlight
  • temperatures between 70 and 80 degrees during the growing season (April to September)
  • water when dry to the touch in Spring and Summer, a little more during flowering
  • NO standing water
  • Fertilizer once a month in the Spring and early Summer (1/2 strength water soluble of 20-10-20 or 20-20-20)
  • No fertilizer from late summer until Spring
  • repotting every three years (do this in the Spring with a potting soil containing 20-40 percent perlite. Linda recommends using Fox Farm Ocean Forest Potting Soil)

I have never tried putting my cacti outdoors (especially with the cool nights here), but Linda says she puts her plants outdoors in a protected shady place during the summer.

HOW TO “TRIM” THEM

In May or June, you can pinch off the leaves all the way back to the place where they form a “Y” (this makes the plant bushier, more compact, and makes it easier for the plant to produce more flowers!

Turn the plant as you pinch to give it a balanced shape.

HOW TO PROPAGATE THEM

Both of my holiday cacti plants were Christmas gifts, so why not use the “trimmings” to create new plants to give as gifts?

In May or June:

  • Pinch or cut off a section of stem with 3 to 5 stem segments.
  • Dip the cut end in a rooting compound
  • Water the potting soil, poke a small hole in it, place the stem in the hole and firm up the soil around it.
  • Use 2 cutting per 6-inch container for a fuller plant
  • Place in a shady place, water well, and continue to water when the soil dries out

You can also try rooting the cuttings in water. Since I am new to both methods, I plan on attempting both!

WOW! I feel like I just gave my Mom a Christmas present by sharing this blog with you. Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas, Mom!

 

Please comment below if you love these plants as much as I do!

How To Enjoy A More Productive Retirement

 

 

 

“Your big opportunity may be right where you are now.” — Napoleon Hill”

Are you getting close to retirement?

Are you already retired?

Until my sixties, I thought retirees had it made! No more getting up early to go to work, pounding the pavement each day to get as much done as possible, and struggling to organize for the next day. Then, switching “hats” on the ride home to spend quality time with the family, prepare meals, and squeeze in a smidgen of relaxation before setting the alarm to start over again the next day!

As I get closer to retirement (I have unofficially “retired” from teaching two times only to return to full-time teaching), I realize how many mental and emotional challenges arise when facing retirement.

Now that I am in my sixties, as are a lot of my friends, I am questioning:

  • How many years do I have left?
  • How can I take better care of my health?
  • What will I do to stay busy after I retire?
  • What will I do if my spouse dies before I do?
  • Will I outlive the money I have?
  • Am I secure in knowing where I will be for eternity?

Not knowing how much time I have left, or how I will die, it is imperative for me to focus on staying passionate about life. Am I enjoying each day? Am I adding “color” to the lives of others?

As my body ages and wears out, things start to break that need fixing. How can I focus on preserving my health? Better diet? More exercise? Meditation?

What if boredom sets in after retirement? Do I have hobbies? Is there something I have always wanted to do? What am I interested in focusing more time on? What am I PASSIONATE about completing? What PURPOSE do I need to fulfill?

Is there a plan in place for me if my spouse dies before I do? What life changes will I need to make?

When I am no longer able to work, will my money last longer than I do?

The MOST IMPORTANT QUESTION is, am I secure in the PROMISE of where I will spend eternity?


In upcoming articles, we will explore practical ways to:

  • Find our passion
  • Find our purpose 
  • Find promise in eternity

 


 

What fears do you have about retirement? If you have already retired, what tips could you share to help others? What topics for retirees are you interested in learning more about?

 

 

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