Thanksgiving Cactus
Q.

30 yr old Thanksgiving Cactus

Zone Wilton, IA Zone 5 | CAnn851 added on May 30, 2018 | Answered

This heirloom cactus is failing :( It sends out new shoots from the very woody old stems, then they drop off the plant after 5-6 segments have grown. Of course this was my grandmother's then my mother's.... now I am afraid I will be the end of it. I would like to root some cuttings from it but don't want to lose the whole plant. Please Help Cyndi

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MichiganDot
Answered on May 30, 2018

This is a lovely tradition/remembrance. Yes, you should take a stem cutting and at the end of this answer, there is a link with instructions. Let's also look at rehabbing your old plant. This isn't a true cactus; it is closer to an orchid in its needs. Regular potting mix may retain too much moisture and lead to root rot. It may help to add perlite to regular potting mix or just switch to half orchid mix half potting mix. Both these measures allow the soil to drain and dry quickly. I suggest that you repot your plant, not in a larger container but with a new mix. When you slide it out of the pot, rinse the soil off and carefully examine the roots. Prune out roots that aren't healthy looking. While Schlumbergera likes to be rootbound, a plant that old may need a few of the very large circling roots trimmed back. If the root mass is very large, not much soil is left to support the plant. Put new mix in the bottom of the pot, nestle in the plant and tuck soil in and around the edges. Water with a half-strength fertilizer solution and add more soil if needed. Unlike a true cactus, Schlumbergera does not like full sun. Put it in a window where it is bright but not allowing direct sunlight to reach it. Do not water again until the soil is dry and starting to pull back from the edges. I judge by lifting the plant; it will feel light when dry enough to water. In nature, holiday cactus grows in the crotch of two tree branches in the rain forest. Trying to reproduce those conditions isn't easy. Good luck.
https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/ornamental/cacti-succulents/thanksgiving-cactus/thanksgiving-cactus-plant.htm

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