This flower is better known among houseplant lovers as the Decembrist; another common name for Zygocactus is Schlumbergera truncata. Despite the “cactus” name, this flower has no thorns at all. It blooms lushly and brightly. Especially loved by housewives for the fact that it pleases with its flowering in the darkest and “non-floral” time of the year when most domestic plants plunge into a state of rest. This unpretentious cactus can be recommended to novice flower growers since it is quite simple and easy to grow at home.
Zygocactus (Schlumbergera truncata) refers to epiphytic plants that are able to grow without soil, synthesizing everything necessary for life from rainwater and air. In places of natural growth, in the humid forests of Brazil, it can often be seen on old stumps or on the trunks of trees to which it does not cause any harm. Its climatic zone is the tropics or subtropics. Due to the epiphytic lifestyle, the flower has thin and compact roots. In conditions of home breeding, zygocactus is planted in the ground, where the root system is located in its uppermost layers. The stems of the plant are soft, fleshy and flat, have the shape of segments. As it grows, its stems change green color to woody brown and lie down, so the plant looks great in hanging pots, eventually taking an ampelic shape.
The edges of stem fragments can be wavy or toothed, without sharp elements. However, sometimes on them, you can see areolas covered with a short and thin pile.
Schlumbergera truncata flowering
The formation of buds occurs at the ends of the branched shoots of the current year. Schlumbergera truncata blooms brightly, more often in pink, light red and crimson tones, but white-cream, orange and even purple varieties can occur. Each tubular flower has several tiers of narrowed petals, making them look voluminous and terry, up to 6-8 cm long. Although the plant is called the “Decembrist”, its flowering begins much earlier, in October, and lasts until the New Year. At the same time, its buds are short-lived, each of them lives no more than 5 days, but new ones immediately bloom to replace it.
After flowering, ribbed or smoothed fruits of carmine or yellow-green color ripen at the ends of the extreme stem segments, inside of which seeds can be found in small quantities, which are usually not used for reproduction at home.
Despite its extensive distribution, in European culture zygocactus is known not so long ago, only two centuries.
Varieties of Zygocactus (Schlumbergera truncata)
It is quite a rare case for tropical plants when all their natural varieties are suitable for breeding at home. True, there are very few of them – only 6 species.
A characteristic feature that is reflected in the name is that the upper edge of the leaf segment looks as if trimmed. In length, they grow to 5-6 cm with a width of 2-3.5 cm. Flowers are large, in pink-salmon color, there are crimson and white-pink variegated varieties. The length of the inflorescences can reach 8 cm. Seeds ripen in a red pear-shaped box.
The shape of the stem segments is similar to the previous variety, but their size is almost half as small. Flowers of pink-purple color have petals of elongated and pointed shape.
Toothed stems are collected from flat-shaped lobes, not exceeding 4 cm. Flowering begins in November. The flowers are tubular in shape, strongly open, with elongated petals of fuchsia color. From the funnel-shaped pharynx grow white thin stamens. Fruit berry yellow-green color, ribbed shape.
Large-stemmed variety, the length of segments with full-sized teeth reaches 7 cm. Buds have a transition from white to salmon or light beet tone, begin to bloom in November. This species, under favorable conditions, can bloom again in March or in the last month of summer.
Zygocactus Prickly pear
At a young age, the leaf lobes have a flat shape with well-defined teeth along the edge, but as they mature, they begin to acquire cylindrical outlines, their serratedness is smoothed. This species blooms in pink-purple colors, after which a green fruit berry with a faint ribbing is formed.
A characteristic difference of the species is the cylindrical outlines of segments even at a young age. The second feature is the March flowering. The flowers are small and most often white, but there are other varietal varieties.
Care at home
In order for Zygocactus (Schlumbergera truncata) to grow and bloom as abundantly and brightly as in the photo, it needs to provide suitable conditions, and this is not at all difficult. To do this, it is necessary to understand, first of all, the cyclical nature of its vegetative development.
Plant life cycles
There are four of them, as well as the seasons, however, they do not fully coincide in terms of timing.
- The second half of winter and spring. At this time, the flower is dormant. Care for zygocactus at this time is reduced to rare watering, cool content (optimally not higher than + 15C), diffused lighting and average air humidity.
- Summer. This is the time of active development and the greatest growth. It requires high humidity, regular watering without drying out the earthen lump and frequent spraying. The temperature of the optimal content is within +22C. There is no need for bright lighting.
- Autumn (all or first half, depending on the species). A period of relative dormancy and half preparation for flowering. Again, it is required to lower the temperature to +15 … + 17C, reduce the frequency of watering and cancel spraying. In terms of illumination, the eastern or western location is preferable.
- Late autumn or early winter to mid-winter. Flowering time. Again it is required to raise the temperature, increase humidity (watering and spraying). At this time, the Decembrist prefers bright places and long daylight hours.
Flowering Zygocactus (Schlumbergera truncata) should not be sprayed on flowers! Another important condition is not to rearrange it throughout this period to a false place.
Watering and humidity
It should be remembered that the plant is by its nature an epiphyte, in nature receiving moisture from the air. With the exception of periods of rest, it requires high humidity, which is achieved by conventional measures (pallets with water, wet moss or claydite, nearby aquariums, etc.). As for watering, they should be timely, but not abundant. It is permissible to dry the soil by 3-4 cm. Water should not be cold, you can not allow it to stagnate in the pot. The delicate and sensitive roots of the Decembrist are very easily susceptible to fungal diseases and decay. Drainage of excess water provides high-quality drainage, for which you should not spare space due to the surface location of the root system.
Doses of fertilizers should be moderate and applied only in active periods – in summer and in the phase of budding. It is enough to have a periodicity of 1 time per month using universal mineral complexes for flowering crops.
With all his love for cool rooms, the Decembrist does not tolerate drafts and sudden temperature changes, in particular , noticeable night cold snaps.
Periodic molding is a mandatory point of care for zygocactus. Pruning should be done immediately after the completion of budding. This is done for the subsequent abundant flowering, since the formation of buds occurs at the ends of the shoots of the current year. They should be trimmed along the line of articulation of the lobes.
Why doesn’t zygocactus bloom?
Here are the main reasons why the Decembrist does not bloom or quickly fades.
- Low light.
- The pot was moved or moved to another location.
- Cuttings were pruned for propagation during flowering.
- Sharp temperature changes, drafts (flowers appeared and fell).
- Too hot room, in the coolness of Zygocactus (Schlumbergera truncata) blooms better and longer.
- Excessively voluminous pot. A small space for the root system stimulates the flower to form buds.
- In the period preceding flowering, the conditions of detention changed dramatically.
- The period of rest was not observed, the flower did not rest.
To make Zygocactus (Schlumbergera truncata) bloom again, you need to analyze the possible cause. Often, to resume flowering, it is enough to leave the plant alone for a while.
Reproduction of Zygocactus (Schlumbergera truncata)
The seed method of obtaining new plants at home is not used and is not considered because of the complexity and duration of the process, this is done by breeders and professionals.
The easiest way to reproduce is planting green cuttings. An added bonus will be more lush blooms for next year, as new stem segments will appear in these places that will produce buds. Two- or three-lobed cuttings should be broken off (twisted) from healthy shoots only with your hands, without the help of scissors or sharp garden tools. After that, they are placed in the open air for a couple of days to wither the cut site.
Dried cuttings are laid on a moist nutrient substrate, without burying, in a regular seedling box and closed with glass or polyethylene to create a greenhouse environment. For Zygocactus (Schlumbergera truncata), this environment is especially important compared to other plants, since it is an epiphyte and receives a significant part of the nutrients from the air.
After some time, the cuttings will give air roots, after which they can be transplanted into ordinary pots, the diameter of which should not exceed 10 cm.
It is very convenient to engage in the reproduction of zygocactus after its annual pruning, when a lot of planting material remains on the hands, and you can experiment with it to obtain the fastest and highest quality results.
Diseases and pests
Unfortunately, decembrist does not belong to plants with high immunity against rot, infections and insect pests. Content in a humid cold environment easily provokes decay of the root system. As for pests, they rarely affect the roots, and most often settle in the above-ground part. Of these, the most commonly plant is annoyed by spider mites and shield mites. To combat them, any insecticidal preparations of universal action are effective.