By Phyllis Galowitz
I’ve written about the Christmas cactus before. I’ve done all the research on how to encourage flowering, but to no avail. Here’s what I’ve tried: I’ve put it in an unheated room for the specified time, stopped watering it, took it out of the sun, put it back in the sun. It looks healthy, but stubbornly refuses to flower. In the meantime, other people’s Christmas cactuses bloom prolifically. Mine seems to be a different species, which may be the reason. The leaves are smoothly ovoid, while others have a saw-tooth edge. I took a leaf cutting of a friend’s plant which I’ve jealously watched flower, year after year, put it in a mixture of sand and potting soil and covered it with a glass jar, creating a miniature greenhouse to give it the proper humidity. Now I must wait patiently to see if it will root. Maybe someday, in a few years, beautiful, creamy white flowers will bloom, just as they do on Debbie’s plant. Of course, I could buy one like hers. It’s called a Schlumbergera, but that would be too easy. I like the challenge of propagating a baby Schlumbergera from its mom. Next month, I should be able to give you the results.
February is a lazy month for gardening. The houseplants have settled in their places. They require a minimum of care. I watch for pests, spray with my solution of water and dish detergent when necessary and water as needed. It’s too soon to work outside but it’s a perfect time to view the empty canvas that’s covered with snow, and decide what’s missing, what’s not doing well and either needs moving or just removing, where more color is needed, and how much time I want to spend in the garden. Is the shape pleasing? Do I want to extend the beds because the foundation plants have overgrown their space? I want a beautiful garden that’s easy to care for.
Last month, I mentioned the “flowering” of the poinsettia plant. One of my readers pointed out that what we think of as flowers are actually its highly colored bracts; red, pink, or white. The tiny real flowers are hidden in the center of the bracts. Thank you, Lori!