1/30/2009

Confused Cactus

photo by wa1ti
When my husband's aunt gave me cuttings, she said it was a "Thanksgiving Cactus." The first year it flowered, the peach color reminded me of autumn, but the timing was off a bit. Was it really a "Christmas Cactus"? This year, it decided to be a Martin Luther King Jr. cactus, just like my other seasonally-confused cactus. Will I end up with a "Valentine's Day Cactus" next year?
I was surprised to learn today that the Thanksgiving Cactus and Christmas Cactus are two different species! If exposed to natural light, the Thanksgiving Cactus should bloom a month earlier than the Christmas Cactus.
BUT...I keep my plants under artificial light in our semi-heated garage. The cold nights are good for setting buds, but since the day length is always set at an artificial 12 hrs, my cacti never know what time of year it is! (By the way, this is the same way trees know it's time to drop their leaves; they detect the longer nights in autumn.)
Mystery solved! For further reading, the Clemson Extension has an excellent page about the seasonal cacti.

2 comments:

queenofseaford said...

Good fact sheet! I find mine don't bloom much at all if they are in the living room where we leave the lights on in the evening as we watch tv. If they are in the room where they get natural daylight and the seasonal length of daylight, they bloom like crazy!
Janet

Melvin said...

Great info....
thanks....

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Melvin
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