Eye Candy Friday, Office Plant Edition

Here’s my one and only office plant, as it looked today.

christmas-cactus.jpg

My office is windowless, but this Schlumbergera bridgesii (Christmas cactus), given to me by a coworker (whose favorite plant it is) thrives in the little timed grow light system I found. I love my outdoor garden, but most house plants don’t do well with me due to their unfortunate predilection for being watered regularly.

And you would think a houseplant that needed the following to bloom would be doomed chez moi, especially au bureau:

Schlumbergera bridgessii need an average to warm climate with a minimum of 62° F at night. We use a soil mix consisting of 3 parts peat moss to 1 part loam to 1 part sand or perlite. The soil should be kept moist during the spring and summer with high diffused light. Fertilize every 2 weeks during this period. For bud formation, they require full sun with a drier, cooler conditions, plus the shorter days of fall. In the fall, reduce watering and keep the plant cooler with a minimum of 55° F at night. Increase watering when the flower buds appear and fertilize every 2 weeks with a houseplant fertilizer diluted to ½ the strength recommended on the label until the flowers open. Then resume the normal water and fertilizer treatments.**

Umm, none of the above are happening. It’s still in the original container (4 years now). I water every so often, which is not very, though there is a reservoir. I fertilized once in four years. There *is* a seasonal timer on the grow light.

And yet it grows, and in fact did bloom a lot in December! It also seems to throw off a bud or two any time of year for no apparent reason; like now. I don’t know what it likes about the relative neglect, the awful office conditions and the grow light; but it’s happy! And if it’s happy, I’m happy. Especially when it blooms, and I get to figure out what holiday it’s blooming for this time. Last one was Groundhog’s Day.

What do you suppose the occasion is this time?
**ETA Note; if anyone is searching for care tips for this plant, see the comment #5 below, which seems more accurate than the above blurb gleaned from the internet, based on my experience!

7 responses to “Eye Candy Friday, Office Plant Edition

  1. I get my Christmas Cactus to bloom reliably every Halloween by leaving it on my front porch every summer into fall until it fears for it’s life. Then it blooms like mad. But only once per year. You have the touch.

  2. April Fool’s Day perhaps?

  3. Oh, my gosh, with all the nonsense going on over at my blog, I haven’t stopped here in way too long. You have been quite busy, my friend!! First of all, I nearly spit my coffee when I saw the stop/no stopping photo. You should send that to Leno.

    Second, I’m with you on the houseplant thing. It’s best if I just pretend they don’t exist and let someone else tend them. Your cactus flower is lovely!

    Third, you’re famous! Very cool!! (AND you got an e-mail from a celebrity – bonus!)

    Have a great weekend!

  4. Clearly Easter… which is what I claim for any xmas cactus that blooms in March/April and even May… because Easter floats around so much. (I got one of these once from a student that had a crush on me… it was a bad scene, but a beautiful big cactus!)

  5. Laurie beat me to the holiday I was going to suggest.

    Your “Christmas” cactus is beautiful! Love the color.

    FYI, the secret to your success is the grow light timer. This plant is native to the mid-heights of the Andes, and is very light sensitive. It tolerates drought quite well, and in fact prefers to be drier than moister. If you’re using ordinary tap water, it’s probably getting the minerals it needs – doesn’t need much else to be happy. Certainly doesn’t require vast amounts of fertilizer, and in fact overfeeding it will reduce the bloom in favor of vegetative growth.

  6. My Grandma, who has the family brown thumb, was never able to keep any houseplant but a Christmas cactus. It lived and bloomed happily for years with her benign neglect. Then, she and my grandfather were going on a long trip and she left it in the care of my great-aunt who is usually quite good with plants. Faced with love, care, and regular watering, the old Christmas cactus passed on to the big greenhouse in the sky. My aunt was quite dismayed, Grandma was understanding. It seems like these plants were invented for people who forget to water their houseplants. Maybe to make it up to us that we can’t keep anything else alive.

  7. It IS possible to kill a Christmas cactus; I have done it. Repeatedly. I love yours, though. Anything that blooms between October and April is a miracle.

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