Many novice flower growers believe that all cacti grow in the desert under the hot sun and do not like excess moisture. Not everyone knows that there are species that grow and develop only in moist soil and do not like the sun. These plants include the Schlumbergera cactus or Zygocactus.
In nature, it grows in the tropics of South Africa and is an epiphyte. Among the people, the flower received a different name - the Decembrist cactus. It is due to the fact that the bright and lush flowering of the plant occurs in December. When there are severe frosts in our country, hot summer is in full swing in the homeland of zygocactus.
Beautiful and abundant flowering is not the only advantage of the Decembrist cactus. Few plants are distinguished by such unpretentious care and such a beautiful form of shoots. It's hard to believe, but this flower can give the owner a piece of summer in winter for 20 years.
Types of Decembrist cactus
This plant is so popular that over its long history in indoor floriculture it has acquired many names: both "barbarian braid" and"Rozhdestvennik", and "Christmas cactus", and "cancer neck", and "Decabrina". But, of course, the most common of them is the Decembrist cactus.
The flower belongs to the large cactus family. Being a natural epiphyte, it is strengthened by roots behind crevices in the bark of trees and grows in the shade of their crowns. In the description of the Decembrist cactus, which is given by various sources, it is said that under natural conditions, the flowers of the zygocactus are painted in various shades of purple.
Today, breeders have managed to develop varieties with lemon and white, lilac and orange, bicolor and pink inflorescences. In specialized stores, buyers are usually offered hybrid zygocacti, which are obtained from natural species. We will introduce you to their brief description below.
- Gartner. This is a fairly large plant. The length of its segment can reach 7 cm. Schlumberger Gertner flowers are large, multi-tiered, the petals are pointed at the ends, the pistils are hanging and long. Flower color varies by variety.
- Rousseliana. The length of the drooping branches of this plant reaches up to 80 cm. The segments are dark, resembling small leaves in shape. The veins are clearly visible on them. The edges are heavily grooved. Large, tubular flowers arranged in tiers.
- Bucleya. Cactus no more than 50 cm high. Segments are shiny, very dense and dark, with teeth along the edges. In length, the flower can reach 8 cm, the petals are pointed at the edges. Depending on the variety, the flowers may be yellow, white or purple. Bloom DecembristBouclea starts in November and pleases with beautiful inflorescences until March.
- Truncated Schlumbergera. In culture, this is the most common type. Stems are light green. Flowers open at the ends of shoots. Their color, depending on the variety, can be purple, red, white or pink.
Features of plants
Schlumbergera cactus has a number of features that distinguish it from other members of the family. These should include:
- Winter bloom when most houseplants are resting.
- Can grow even in north-facing windows, easily tolerates lack of lighting.
- In the summer, it needs fresh air, it feels great on a shaded balcony or loggia.
- Loves warm showers.
- At home lives up to 20 years.
- During budding, the plant should not be turned over or rearranged so that unopened buds do not fall off.
- Can be grown in regular and ampel way.
Decembrist cactus: cultivation features
This representative of the cactus family grows well on a bright but shaded window, preferably east or north. It is very important to protect the flower from the negative effects of direct sunlight in order to prevent burns of the stems.
In winter, the optimum air temperature for the plant is about +15 °С. In summer, this flower needs fresh air, so it should be placed in a shadyloggia, terrace or balcony area. It is recommended that an adult bush be periodically turned towards the light so that the plant is not one-sided and does not lose its shape, but this cannot be done during the flowering period.
As a rule, it is composed independently. To do this, you will need peat, sand, leaf and sod land in equal parts. A little brick chips or the finest expanded clay are added to this mixture. Crushed charcoal will be required to disinfect the potting mix.
Many flower growers use ready-made soil for cacti and succulents. In this case, the drainage in the pot should be 1/3 of the volume of the pot.
Water and humidity
For the Decembrist cactus, moderate watering with warm settled water is important. At the same time, it is necessary to find a middle ground - the soil should not be waterlogged and overdried. The plant responds well to a warm shower, but inflorescences and buds should not be touched during flowering.
The Decembrist is transplanted immediately after flowering. This usually happens in late February or early March. Adult bushes need such a procedure every 3-5 years, young ones need a new container every year. This type of cactus has shallow roots, so the pot can be used shallow, but wide, stable and heavy. It is advisable to plant a flower in a ready-made substrate marked “for forest cacti.”
Transplanting a Decembrist is easy. It is necessary to remove the flower from the pot, after wateringsoil so as not to injure the roots. Carefully remove the old soil from them and place it in a prepared new pot with a drainage layer and a small amount of soil mixture. Then add the rest of the soil and compact it slightly.
Immediately after transplantation, it is impossible to water the flower - it is necessary to give the roots time to heal the micro-wounds obtained during this procedure. The plant is placed away from direct sunlight, in a cool place. The first watering is carried out after 3-4 days.
Decembrist in March begins to grow young shoots, on which beautiful flowers will appear in winter. During this period, the plant is responsive to fertilizing with any complex fertilizer for indoor plants. In this case, the concentration of drugs should be half as much as indicated in the instructions.
You can feed the Schlumberger once a month with liquid fertilizer for cacti and succulents. In summer, top dressing can be done twice a month. They are stopped in September: the plant cannot be fertilized during the flowering period.
The best time to form a bush is June. A well-formed plant blooms luxuriantly and has an attractive appearance. To give the shape of a bush, the excess part of the shoot is unscrewed (but not cut off!) In the place where the segment is attached.
If you want to replenish your collection with a new flower, this should be done immediately after flowering. At this time, the zygocactus is easily propagated by cuttings. To do this, shoots with 3-4 links are unscrewed, dried a little and planted inwet soil, covered with a glass jar or plastic wrap.
The seedling is placed in the shade and regularly moderately watered, not forgetting to ventilate every day. The stalk can be rooted in water by adding crushed coal to it. Usually a young Decembrist blooms in the second year of life.
Although this flower is unpretentious and easy to maintain, the Decembrist cactus is predisposed to some diseases. Sometimes his leaves begin to crumble. Such leaf fall can cause anchor (spider mite). Its presence is indicated by the thinnest, barely noticeable layer of white cobwebs that covers the lower part of the leaves. You can get rid of this pest by spraying the plant twice a day with a solution of laundry soap. The drug "Aktara" works more effectively.
Another cause of leaf fall can be soil depletion. Apply complex fertilizer for epiphytic cacti to the soil and your flower will come to life. Falling leaves can cause stress, which the plant endures with a sharp temperature drop, transplantation, and being in a draft. In order for the cactus to recover, it is transferred to a cool place, maintaining constant soil moisture. Soon you will see that new shoots grow from the center of the bush and the plant becomes both lush and green.
Sometimes the owners of the Decembrist find between the shoots of a flower whitish, like cotton balls. This is the result of the presence of the mealybug. The Aktara insecticide will help get rid of it.
Decembrist can be pestered by fungal diseases: late blight and fusarium. The infected flower turns pale, withers even when the soil is wet, sheds foliage. In this case, spraying with Topaz or Maxim will help the plant.
Excessively moist Decembrist, kept in the cold, begins to wither, becomes unstable. Such symptoms indicate the death of the roots. By the way, the roots can die not only from hypothermia, but also from heat if the plant is overheated in the sun.
In addition, the root system can be damaged by fertilizer in high concentrations. In this case, the flower must be transplanted into a fresh substrate, after cutting the roots to he althy areas. If there are few living roots left, it is necessary to thin out the top of the flower, bringing the aboveground part into line with the underground.
Problems that arise when growing
- Buds and flowers fall - temperature changes and drafts, change of place during the flowering period.
- The appearance of light spots on the shoots - too bright lighting or infection.
- No flowering - the air temperature dropped below +10 °C.
- Pale and sluggish shoots - negative effects of sunlight, pests, irregular watering.
- The appearance of brown spots on the leaves - the defeat of the scale insect.
Very spectacular Decembrist cactus will add comfort to any room. When most plants freeze, suffer from too dry air, short daylight hours, Schlumbergertransforms the space. The flower seems to remind you that it's time to prepare for the most beloved New Year holidays.