James and the Giant Corn Genetics: Studying the Source Code of Nature

December 8, 2009

My Zygocactus is Getting Ready to Bloom

Filed under: Photo Posts,Plants — Tags: , , — James @ 11:51 am

Some background: as an exciting and awesome plant scientist as myself might be expected to maintain a wide range of plants around the house. Instead I have exactly one*, a Christmas Cactus that’s been clonally** in my family for four generations (human generations, my Christmas Cactus is only a third generation plant).

My Christmas Cactus is not happy. At my old apartment I had it on the kitchen table, where…someone… had an accident involving it and a pressure cooker. Right after we moved I left it on a windowsill with the window open and the blinds (blowing in the wind) cut into it even more. On top of all that, the new place offers only north facing windows***.

So needless to say I wasn’t expecting so much as a single flower given everything it’s been through. Which is why I was so surprised when I went to water it and discovered…

Christmas Cactus blooming... also a sample of the less than thrilling view out my bedroom window.

Christmas Cactus blooming... also a sample of the less than thrilling view out my bedroom window.

Before I rotated the plant, those two branch tips were pressed right against the window, which makes me think something like a vernalization response (temperature dependent) is involved in signaling to a Christmas Cactus that it’s time to flower. There are buds on many of the rest of the branches, but they’re still tiny.

Thanks to Mr. Subjunctive for introducing me to the name Zygocactus, even if it was in a post about how he was giving up on the (awesome sounding) name in favor of Schlumbergera.

I also want to name-drop Liza of Good to Grow. My plan is to continue following her site and use it as inspiration to increase my plant collection so by next year my Christmas Cactus won’t be so alone.

*This is what happens when you’ve moved into a new place six times times in the past six years, plus two moves of ~1000 and ~3000 miles respectively.

**The easiest way to make new Christmas cactuses is to break off several of the segments that make up one of it’s branches, put them in water to root and then plant the new plant in soil. Since the new plant is genetically identical to the old (after all it grew from a PIECE of the old plant), in other words it’s a clone. Cloning plants is much easier than cloning animals…

***When it warms up I’m planning a commando raid to sneak the poor plant onto my roommate’s balcony for a bit more sun.


  1. Aw, so sweet, James. Thanks! Your experience with your cactus has inspired this week’s question on Ask the Experts, which will be “how do you get a Christmas cactus to bloom?” Obviously, you didn’t do anything special, neither did I on mine (it bloomed at Halloween), but there are ways to force them to bloom when you want. I can’t wait to see what the experts say! Thanks again, and have fun watching those blossoms unfurl!

    Comment by Liza Wheeler — December 9, 2009 @ 7:00 am

  2. Thanks Lisa! I look forward to hearing what the experts have to say on the subject.

    Comment by James — December 9, 2009 @ 1:33 pm

  3. Putting them outside for the summer and bringing them in JUST before the first frost of the fall seems to simulate early prolific blooming.

    Comment by the beekeeper — December 12, 2009 @ 8:45 am

  4. Sadly, as far as I know, we haven’t yet had our first frost in my part of Cali….

    Comment by James — December 12, 2009 @ 7:50 pm

  5. lol i planted it 2 years ago and it bloomed like in december i was so surprised!! XD

    Comment by smiles4u — October 16, 2011 @ 5:12 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Leave a comment

Powered by WordPress

%d bloggers like this: