Hello everyone! I hope this post finds you well. As I am writing this post, it seems I have multiple tabs open in two windows. Normally, I just have one window with multiple tabs open but I had to re-read what I had already read before and didn’t want to get more confused all over again. Well, I had it figured out before, but then I ran across another website that was somewhat controversial. SO, I had to re-read some of the previous information again. Finding consistent accurate information on plants that are popular on a seasonal basis is tough!!! The only time most people pay much attention to them is when they are flowering and the rest of the year they just throw a little water on them. Ummm… I might be guilty of that on occasion myself. Hmmm… Maybe I am just talking about myself. Maybe I should delete the last few sentences. Ah, heck. I’ll just go with it. Only a handful of people will read it anyway. 🙂
As I mentioned in the last post I went to Wagler’s Greenhouse on November 17 to see if she had any peach flowering Schlumbergera truncata. I was very surprised to see that she had A LOT of Schlumbergera truncata but not any peach. She had a lot of pink, red, and yellow. No peach, orange, or white… I picked out a yellow and another red one. I picked out another red one because mine isn’t flowering and it is a smaller plant. THEN she said,
“I have a few Easter Cactus in the back that are different. You can have one of those if you want one.”
I had just been doing research on the different species of Schlumbergera so I hoped she really did have a genuine Easter Cactus. I followed her to where she had them and she picked up a pot with three cuttings and handed it to me. SURE ENOUGH, I was holding a genuine Schlumbergera gaertneri!!! She had a few other pots with three cuttings in each one and another pot she had taken the cuttings from. MAN!!! Personally, I think she should hide them all.
You may be laughing, but this is an important find. Now, I am laughing. 🙂 The segments are different with this species as they are thicker and the margins are wavy (scalloped) and have no “teeth” or “claws”. They have different flowers as well. You can go to the page I wrote for Schlumbergera gaertneri if you want to read more about the species and see more photos of the segments (close-up) by clicking HERE…
Schlumbergera gaertneri is one of many species of controversy. It has been in five other genera since it was first named Epiphyllum russellianum var. gaertneri by William Regal in 1884, then became its own species in 1890. Although it was first moved to the Schlumbergera genus in 1913, it was renamed five more times! Its most recent name was Hatiora gaertneri (1953) but DNA testing proved it should in fact be Schlumbergera gaertneri.
Many stores may sell Easter Cactus during Easter that are actually Schlumbergera truncata, S. russelliana, or x buckleyi hybrids they have forced to flower for Easter sales. You can tell by the segments and fowers.
The yellow-flowered Schlumbergera truncata I brought home looks very nice. Mrs. Wagler said the flowers will be kind of a creamy color, not bright yellow.
There are two plants in this red-flowered pot. She said this one’s flowers will be kind of dark pinkish-red.
This bud on the yellow-flowered plant is sharing the same areole as a new segment.
I like the way the buds just push their way out of the areola. You can clearly see the segments have “teeth” or “claws” on the Schlumbergera truncata. That’s where one of the common names “Crab’s Claw” comes from.
You can see the difference in the segments with the close-up of the largest cutting of Schlumbergera gaertneri. The edges are scalloped or wavy with no claws… I don’t know what that pink thing is sticking out of the areole on this one is. Surely it isn’t a bud since they don’t flower until around April… HMMM…
Then it happened… ON Monday morning, the 23rd, I was greeted with this when I went to make my coffee…
Well, that was just AWESOME!!!
I think it not being pink made it even more AWESOME! It’s a guy thing because I think pink is girly.
The red-flowered plant is just about ready to spring open but there seems to be a lot of white for it to be red…
Then, Wednesday evening, I noticed one of the red-flowered plant’s flowers had opened. I decided to wait until Wednesday morning to take a photo. By then, there were two more almost open.
Well, it isn’t exactly red. IT’S BICOLOR! 🙂
The flowers have no issues when it comes to showing their reproductive parts. The above photo shows the stamen with the stigma on the end and filaments with anthers loaded with yellow pollen. If this were a Schlumbergera russelliana or any of the x buckleyi hybrids, the pollen would be pink. I have never seen a flower of any type with pink pollen… Some stigmas open up to a star-shape when the ovaries are receptive.
Somewhere at the base of the floral tube, where the flower emerges from the areola of the segment, is where the ovaries are. At the point where the ovary is, with Schlumbergera truncata, the floral tube bends upward. I think it is where the first set of petals are. After that point, the flower bends downward somewhat but it still held more or less horizontal. With S. russelliana and the x buckleyi hybrids, the floral tube bends downward at the point where the ovaries are and the flowers hang downward.
Pollinating Schlumbergera is pretty simple since all the necessary parts are right out in the open. All you have to do is rub the pollen from the flowers of one plant on the stigma of flowers from another plant. The stigma is somewhat sticky so the pollen sticks to it. You can cross-breed S. truncata with S. russelliana very easily which is how the x buckleyi hybrids came about. I tried it out for the heck of it and rubbed pollen from the flowers of the yellow on the stigmas of the red one and visa versa. Even the stigmas are not opened up, it will probably still work. Don’t know for sure because I never tried it before. If it works, I think the stigma is supposed to swell up. THEN when the flower wilts, the fruit the ovary produces will remain intact. After a year, the fruit can be removed and the seed squeezed out, allowed to dry for a few days then planted. The seeds will germinate in maybe 2 weeks. Plants from the seed will flower in 2-4 years… NOT that I want to go through all that when I can just take cuttings that will flower MUCH sooner. But, it is an experiment…
What else do I need to talk about? Hmmm…
Schlumbergera is a genus of nine species from southern Brazil in the Cactaceae Family. It is weird for them to be in the cactus family since they grow on trees and rocks. The plants we grow as houseplants come in multiple colors and are likely cultivars rather than the species. Species of Schlumbergera have been moved around a bit like most other species of plants.
Schlumbergera are easy to grow in a similar potting soil as other cactus (or regular potting soil or a similar mix as orchids and bromeliads) but their watering requirements are a lot different. Their soil “should” be kept fairly moist but never wet. Just check occasionally, and when the top inch or so is dry, give it a little water. As with other cactus and succulents, they require more water during the summer when it is warmer and they have better light. Inside during the winter, you can slow down a bit. I am used to neglecting my cactus and succulents during the winter, so I will have to check these guys more often. Maybe I will keep them in the bedroom once they finish flowering so I will be reminded I need to water them more often. BUT, they are drought-tolerant, so if I forget them it will be OK. Their leaves will shrivel a little but they perk back up.
Holiday Cactus need light shade to partly shady areas and should NEVER get full sun. They are an ideal houseplant! They can be forced to flower just about any time of the year, but you have to experiment with that. Light and temperature have to be controlled to do that…
I did go ahead and order the Schlumbergera russelliana (Christmas Cactus, ETC.) from a seller on Ebay plus a couple of other early Christmas presents to myself. Hmmm… Well, I may as well tell you… The listing on Ebay was for Schlumbergera bridgesii but that species is a synonym of Schlumbergera russelliana… The plant is likely to be small so it probably won’t flower for Christmas. 🙂
OK, I think I am finished now… I will probably think of something later. It only took four days to finish this post
You can view the page for Schlumbergera truncata HERE and Schlumbergera gaertneri HERE. Information about hand pollinating is on the Rainy Side Gardens website which you can read about by clicking HERE.
Until next time, be safe, stay po, stay well, be thankful, and GET DIRTY if you can. 🙂
So, these cacti are in effect pregnant for a year!
The plant world is fascinating and the more I learn, the more I respect plants.
I’m also in awe of your ability to keep cacti alive. I would surely kill them, although you have given me a good tip re watering. So, you never know…
How do you provide sufficient light but not direct sunlight for the cactus that likes it that way?
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Hello Helen! Yes, I suppose you are right about the Schlumbergera being pregnant for a year. I never thought about it that way. 🙂 Watering cactus is very easy over the winter. Just don’t do it. Unless, of course, they are Schlumbergera. I learned a lot while writing their pages and the post. During the winter, cactus do not need that much light because they are dormant (for the most part). MOST succulents, on the other hand, need brighter light. Schlumbergera grow in trees in the wild so they are shaded. They can be grown in front of an east-facing window and may do fine with a north-facing window. They can be situated farther away from windows that face south. Two of mine are on the new shelf on the west side, but the sun is not directly in front of the window this time of the year. Growing Schlumbergera outside is like planting annuals and perennials that prefer light to part shade. Believe it or not, MANY cactus prefer light shade to full sun. In nature, smaller species are shaded by taller plants, shrubs and weeds. You just learn by experience and try to mimic their natural environment and when they are dormant and when they are active. It’s a great adventure. Take care and thanks for the comment!
Thanks for the information. I have some succulents outside on the north side of the house and they do fine, even under trees and bushes. They are in fact really hardy as they can live outside all year round. Others live outside too but they are only visible above ground from spring through to autumn. Take care too!
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Hi Lonnie the flowers are lovely! beautiful & very large? I have what I think is an Easter cactus but it’s flowers are more discrete- those are really something
Also really great to see the secret picture of mrs Waglers greenhouse! 😉 Hope you are keeping well
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Hello Debbie! The flowers are really neat and I am so glad I have a couple that aren’t pink! I am looking to my Easter Cactus blooming but it will definitely need to do some growing before then. Shhhh about the photo from the greenhouse. 🙂 I am doing well and I hope you are as well. Take care always and thanks for the comment.
I find the epiphyllum easier to grow. However, they are not very pretty. They are grown more for their flowers than for their foliage . . . or stems, or . . . well, you know. There is one with a big red flower here, but it looks horrid through winter. It gave me only three cuttings so far, although I could get more if I wanted to . . . during the year when the stems are actually healthy. The white one grows like a weed, and has reasonably appealing foliage. It is my favorite of course. Anyway, Schlumbergia is more of a houseplant. It is very sensitive to even mild frost. I am not familiar with Schlumbergera gaertneri, but it really does look like an epiphyllum.
Hello Tony! I am not too familiar with the Epiphyllum genus although members of Schlumbergera have been there. I think they are probably very similar. They are all epiphytic plants. You have to like their foliage to make them appealing since they only flower briefly. It’s like you care for them all year for a week or so of flowers. You have to meet their requirements or they don’t do well. I terribly neglected them during the summer while they were outside and the first red one became really sad looking. A testament to the fact they are very drought tolerant even though they prefer moist soil. Now it is doing great because I taking better care of it inside. The new Schlumbergera russelliana has finally perked up, too. Take care and thanks for the comment.
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Yes, they are resilient, but like you say, they can look badly, even if mostly healthy, if not maintained well. Epiphyllum look shabby even at their best. They are grown mostly for the bloom.
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