Thanksgiving cactus falling apart

luvofrosesDecember 29, 2009

I bought a new Thanksgiving cactus a few weeks ago.It had a few buds but i repotted it anyway. Most buds fell off that was okay. It looks very healthy very green and segments are firm but I have segments that have just fallen off. They feel good when I pick them up.I am hoping that this is just a reaction to my repotting it. Now it is still a healthy looking plant and if you had not seen the segments laying in the pot you would never know that it had lost any( these are just one segment not two that are still together (kinda like just the very newest ones) Should I hold off on the water a little and give it more of a chance to settle in. I know better than to water right after I repot a cactus tropical or not. I know it sounds like I am not learning but I am. What do ya'll think just shock and settling period?

Ann in So Ut

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tjicken

The first thing I do if this happens is to get a magnifying glass and look for spider mites around the joints. They are extremely good at making epiphytic cacti fall apart.

Next thing to look for is root problems (shock), sudden changes in humidity and other things that are more difficult to diagnose.

    Bookmark   December 29, 2009 at 1:38AM
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norma_2006

Ann I can't tell you what until I see the soil, how much cold and draft, Did you repot while it is in flower, do you see new growth coming out of the top of the leaves or at the base. I let my dry out between watering. Now there was a www:// to go you a while back see if you can find that and get more information. I just grow mine by instinct. At the Huntington Gardens we grow ours on a North wall, next to a heated greenhouse with layers of shade cloth like the have the jungles were they once came from that has a canopy of leaves, and warmth and rain every day. The water runs freely down the tree in which they are growing. Their can be many reasons, this group will respond and give you all the reasons, mine are doing fine, and they are also outside on a North Wall. I don't believe we have started to fertilize yet. They just may be dorment? Group I grow this plant, but don't drop leaves and can 't help please all pictch in and save this plant.
Ann I know that you are learning, and I am still learning. I have been doing this since I was a child and still learning thank goodness my boss at the Huntington I found doesn't know all either, I correct him, and id for him on occasion. None of us do. Norma

    Bookmark   December 29, 2009 at 1:43AM
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prayerrock(zone 5)

If you just repotted it dont water it for at least a week. let it ajdust to the shock of being repotted. The roots are in shock right now, water will further complicate that. And as stated above look for those dreaded spider mites.

Mary

    Bookmark   December 29, 2009 at 1:46AM
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norma_2006

Go the the FAQ on the top of this page. I found something that may help you, Norma

    Bookmark   December 29, 2009 at 1:47AM
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luvofroses

Thanks Norma for the FAQ. It was very helpful. I think I was too excited and watered too soon and have been watering. So now I will let it dry out. I am glad it still looks good and I did not see any bugs on it. The FAQs did state that they need it seems like a richer soil(but still fast draining) than other cacti I have all mine in non peat soil with perlite and orchid bark. Should I maybe reasses my soil on all my holiday cacti? Thank you all so much For some reason I am having trouble getting the hang of these more so than any other plants I own. If they were like violets that would be a snap. Thanks again for your patience
Ann in So Ut

    Bookmark   December 29, 2009 at 2:13AM
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beachplant(9b)

They can be a little touchy, dropping leaves/segments if too hot, too cold, too wet, too dry, moved. Prone to rot here so I gotta keep an eye on mine. I don't give it any supplemental watering unless it starts to look shriveled. They live under the trees in the backyard in moderate shade, kind of like what Norma describes and seem happiest there.
Good luck with yours!
Tally HO!

    Bookmark   December 29, 2009 at 11:01AM
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puglvr1(9b central FL)

Ann for what its worth, I also have mine in soil-less mix, with orchid/fir bark,silica sand and turface. They seem to be doing well in that mix. I also repotted mine 6 weeks ago while it was in bloom because I would rather lose flowers than the whole plant. I did not lose them all, just a few... If it were mine I would leave it in that fast draining mix you have it in now...less chance of over watering and staying wet too long IMHO.

I believe Josh's CC is also in a soil-less mix. Good luck!

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   December 29, 2009 at 11:17AM
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prayerrock(zone 5)

puglvr1, The bloom is pretty on your plant but the plant looks like it needs some help. To me it doesnt look to overly healthy. These cactus do benifit from a richer soil then other cactus, a soiless mix is not somthing I would recommend for this type of cacts.

Mary

    Bookmark   December 29, 2009 at 12:34PM
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beachplant(9b)

Mine are in miracle gro potting mix with a little coarse sand added for drainage. They live outside year round, the oldest is about 10 years old now and survived being under salt water and floating around the back yard. Most of them didn't like that and died though. They seem to like being a little root bound too.

Pug is yours variegated? Mine all have solid dark green leaves.
Tally HO!

    Bookmark   December 29, 2009 at 12:54PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

I have a year and a half old Christmas Cactus cutting in nearly pure bark, blooming on my window-sill right now. I have another cutting in gritty mix, freshly re-potted, that sulked for a week or so and then perked up. The soil-less mixes do require fertilization and more frequent watering.

Josh

    Bookmark   December 29, 2009 at 12:54PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Mine don't actually like to be root-bound, as far as I can tell.

Josh

    Bookmark   December 29, 2009 at 1:00PM
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prayerrock(zone 5)

I would agree with the root bound..they do tend to like being rootbound, from my expeience and from what I have heard from other growers of these succulents.

Mary

    Bookmark   December 29, 2009 at 1:24PM
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prayerrock(zone 5)

puglvr1...I was also wondering if yours is a variegate as it looks like it could be. If that is the case then you will have to use even more care with it as the variegates are more touch even then the solid form. Very careful not to over water! Use a good mix with leaf mold if you have it. These do like organic matter. Just be sure you have good amount of perlite and gravel in the mix to keep it well draining.

Mary

    Bookmark   December 29, 2009 at 1:28PM
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norma_2006

Don't be afraid to tell it like is. Tell all, secrets and all. We got to save the plant, it needs not just bark but it need leaf matter well decomposed. It's okay to mist this plant if there is no humidiy out there. It needs jungle conditions, picture in in the croch of two limbs of a tree represented by this Y... U depending on any thing that happens to land there, dead bugs and all, that will decompose. Paint her and us a word picture. Norma

    Bookmark   December 29, 2009 at 1:45PM
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puglvr1(9b central FL)

Thanks for the suggestions Mary...I did buy it as a Variegate, although I'm not sure its a true variegate or not? I am not that concerned with it right now as I've only had it for a few weeks. It was in a shipping box for 3-4 days completely toppled over when I got it...have been outside in my entryway since I received. I think it will do just fine with some TLC. Appreciate the suggestions and advice. I LOVE my soil less mix and won't go back to Miracle grow(peat) for anything,lol...

    Bookmark   December 29, 2009 at 2:02PM
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prayerrock(zone 5)

You may love your soiless mix but that does not mean that the plant will..LOL

    Bookmark   December 29, 2009 at 2:32PM
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puglvr1(9b central FL)

I know what you mean Mary, but I have several other TC in the same exact mix and they are all doing well...so if this one needs a little more time to acclimate I would have to think it probably is due to the plant itself not the soil less mix. I used to have my TC in MG soil and they are all dead now...because they rotted due to overwatering or getting too much rain in our rainy season. This mix gives me an edge and keeps the soil from staying too wet...so if I lose one plant I will take that chance and assume its more likely the plant itself had issues...not the mix.

Here's a few more TC in the same mix as this one...like you said it might be because it has the variegate gene and is a little more picky? or the plant wasn't that healthy to begin with?...time will tell, again Thank You for the advise and suggestions :o)

    Bookmark   December 29, 2009 at 2:54PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

No plant likes or prefers being root-bound...the grower might like it for blooms or for convenience, but the plant surely does not! ;-)

I grow my Jungle Cacti the way that Norma suggests. In situ, they live in the crooks of trees...therefore bark attachment, bark underbase. They receive organic bug, poop, and leaf-juice fertilizer...but they also receive rain very, very frequently... which flushes away a lot of that natural fertilizer, and keeps the plant hydrated.

For healthy plants, the smart and safe money is on the bark-based mixes.

Josh

    Bookmark   December 29, 2009 at 3:14PM
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luvofroses

I did not think about being hotter as a cause. I do not have it near a haeating vent but my husband who is very cold natured when he is home does use our gas firepalce so I will have to watch that. So I am not watering for a while, I think my soil is ok. A soil that has NO peat, orchid bark and some perlite. Drains quickly, It is sittin near a window where it gets great bright light but not direct sun Will keep a watch and let everyone know the progess of my plant. I now have 3 Thanksgiving and 2 Easter cacti This is the only one that seems to be strange but I think if I take everyones takes on this and follow what I see I think we may have success. Puglvr1 your cacti are beautiful will show these to mine and maybe they will shape up. Thanks again will keep you updated
Ann in So Ut

    Bookmark   December 29, 2009 at 3:17PM
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patrick51(5)

Puglvr...absolutely stunning TC's!! I love those vivid colours! Patrick

    Bookmark   December 29, 2009 at 4:41PM
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puglvr1(9b central FL)

Thank you Ann and Patrick for the nice compliments. Appreciate it.

Ann looking forward to an update...

    Bookmark   December 29, 2009 at 5:05PM
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prayerrock(zone 5)

Josh I am sorry but I have to disagree with you...there are indeed many plants that like to be rootbound and will not grow well unless they are.

The TC will grow either way but if it is some what rootbound it grows better and flowers better. Prodcing flowers is a sign that the plant is happy.

puglvr1..I understand totally what you are saying about the soil less mix giving you that edge against overwatering.

I use a mix of mircle grow, perilite and aquarium gravel or pea gravel and it works great...I just make sure that the perilite and gravel make up over 50% of my mix...probably about 70% i would say. It seems to work well for most succulents and cactus.

But we each have our preferance and hey if its not broke dont fix it huh:)

Just so you know the variegated TC is not at all a common plant and when it is found generally sells for a pretty good price. I would love to some day own one myself, but cant afford the prices I have seen on them lately.

blessings,
mary

    Bookmark   December 29, 2009 at 6:51PM
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jodik_gw

I would disagree with the "likes to be pot bound" issue... no plant likes to be crowded... but when they are, they grow more and bloom because they feel threatened. They will try to reproduce, as in flowering for possible pollination, or grow offsets to reproduce.

The one logical purpose of any living thing is to procreate for posterity. Any time a plant feels threatened, it will try its hardest to accomplish that goal. Crowded roots threaten its existence, therefore, it tries extremely hard to leave progeny to carry its genetics into the future.

If a plant has all of its needs met properly, it will grow exactly as it should. Being pot bound is not one of those needs. If a plant is not growing as it should, then there are cultural problems... as in soil, watering, light, temperature, etc...

I'm with puglvr... I firmly believe that because of the vast differences between pot culture and garden culture, a more inorganic approach to container gardening is the logical way to proceed. The retail industry would have us believe otherwise. If the bottom line wasn't profit, but was strictly plant health, you'd see a huge difference in the soils and mediums sold.

I can clearly see what the issue is with my own cacti... it's in the wrong medium. I will rectify that tomorrow.

    Bookmark   December 29, 2009 at 7:55PM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

I'm curious about this variegated TC business. I've never seen or heard of one, seems to me I'd at least have heard of it (I've been dabbling w/ CC/TC for at least 8-10 yrs now).

I also differ w/ Josh about the mix. I understand about the crotch of trees, but they're sitting ON bark, not in it.

After starting off badly growing CCs w/ C&S mix, I switched several years ago to AV mix w/ lots of extra perlite, it's light, fluffy & very fast draining. The plants seem happy w/ it. I've also finally learned (it seems) to roots small bits of this which used to be problematic for me.

Ann, I'm curious why you switched the mix immediately, unless you're not new at this &/or saw it was a peaty mix?

BTW, when I first joined my local Indoor Gardening Society, I learned their use of soilless mix = equal parts peat, perlite & vermiculite. They didn't seem so averse to peat as we all seem to have become here.

As to the original problem, (IME) sometimes these plants just shed sections. Without necessarily clearly visible reasons. I'd just keep an eye, not mess w/ the plants & hope for the best.

    Bookmark   December 29, 2009 at 8:19PM
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puglvr1(9b central FL)

I am just as confused about Variegated TC as you are Pirate Girl,lol. As I stated above I don't know just how "true" a variegate it really is? It was sold to me as a possible variegate, so who really knows? It could just be some type of nutrient deficiency or temperature issues. Only few of the segments have what looks like it might be variegated, maybe its a cross or carries the gene...I have no idea if that is even possible? Either way, I bought it for the beautiful orange blooms not the variegation...

    Bookmark   December 29, 2009 at 8:39PM
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prayerrock(zone 5)

PG if you want to see a nice variegated TC look on ebay there is a seller with a nice one there.

Jodik you stated:
"I would disagree with the "likes to be pot bound" issue... no plant likes to be crowded... but when they are, they grow more and bloom because they feel threatened. They will try to reproduce, as in flowering for possible pollination, or grow offsets to reproduce."

Can you please tell me were you got this information I would like to see it please,thank you. I have never heard of or known a plant to thrive and bloom because it feels threatened so this is new to me and I would love to see this information.

Mary

    Bookmark   December 29, 2009 at 9:50PM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

Well Mary, it wasn't me you've asked, but I too have heard some of this.

I had always thought that a plant blooming must be a good sign, even that it found circumstances to its liking. But I've since learned, blooming can also be a last gasp if the plant's ailing or dying, it'll sometimes spend much of its last energy on blooming or reproducing before it kicks the bucket. Have no idea where I've picked this up, so sorry.

Hey Pug,

Not to be a party pooper, but I think variegated TC was your vendor's wishful thinking (if on that gorgeous yellow one, I agree). I happen to be rather a variegate hound of many plants & really think I'd have heard -- besides I'd be wanting some too!!!

    Bookmark   December 29, 2009 at 10:41PM
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gardenbear1(6 Ma.)

pirate girl, your right about some plants blooming just to reproduce when things start to go down hill, I've known epie growers to stress there plant so much to get blooms that the plant will die in the end, just to get a bloom and a pic of the flower, I'll wait until the plant wants to flower for my pic.

Bear

    Bookmark   December 29, 2009 at 11:26PM
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beachplant(9b)

Variegated plants are by their very nature a weakend plant already, they aren't normal plants. That's not to say they won't live and thrive. A lot of variegated plants will revert to "normal" is given good growing conditions. Some variegation is caused by viral infections.

And yes, some plants DO like to be rootbound. Think about where they are growing in nature, the crotch of a tree is a pretty confined space. Others have evolved to live in small spaces between rocks-think African violets.

Plants will not THRIVE when they are dying, they may put out blooms in a last ditch effort to reproduce but the actual plant will look like it is dying, it won't look healthy and robust.

I was told to move this plant to a smaller pot, the roots are coming out of the bottom of the pot it is in. It's going in the garden.

And here is a variegated cactus that does very well, but won't get anywhere near as big as the spineless unvariegated growing in the garden. It's thriving having produced three new pads in the month since this pic was taken.

Tally HO!

    Bookmark   December 30, 2009 at 12:11PM
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jodik_gw

That's nice... an entire morning's worth of posts are gone. I responded to Mary's query earlier, and now, it's not here.

What I basically said was... I never used the words "thrive" and "pot bound" in the same sentence... and I never would. Mary said "thrive".

Pot bound roots are not conducive to a healthy, thriving plant. Sure, some plants have evolved to grow in tight spots... but not the majority of those we call "houseplants", and stuff into confining containers to grow.

Ask yourselves why a plant blooms when it becomes pot bound... what is the scientific reason behind it? Why do pot bound plants offset, or produce flowers, or stolons... or any other way they have to reproduce? Why? What causes that reaction?

It's simple. Logic tells me that when a plant is threatened with potential demise, it will rush to reproduce. The core goal of any living thing is to procreate, to reproduce so its genetic material is carried forward, in its progeny.

When the roots of a potted plant become too crowded for the space it's in, the plant feels stressed. It immediately begins preparing to die, and this includes procreating before it expires, or before it loses the energy to do so.

If a plant is not pot bound, it will still bloom. It will still produce offsets or stolons, or whatever... it has a genetically ingrained blooming schedule. As long as all the cultural conditions are right, the plant will bloom exactly as it should, exactly when it should.

By forcing a plant to be pot bound, what you're doing is actually stressing the plant into procreation/reproduction. You're forcing it to procreate out of its normal genetically pre-programed schedule.

There are many half truths and fallacies floating around the gardening world... most of them can be dispelled by finding out why and how plants do what they do... most of it is very elementary scientific information.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2009 at 1:05PM
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meyermike_1micha(5)

Beautiful plants!!

Thanks for the pictures! Attention grabbers for sure beachplant!

Mike..;-)

    Bookmark   December 30, 2009 at 1:13PM
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beachplant(9b)

Isn't that a cute little sans? I was excited to find the variegated op also. Mine drowned in Ike. The only problem with the nursery is it's on the other side of Houston. I'm an islander, it's hard to get me to drive to Walmart cause it's too far away! It's about 65th and we live on 23rd. I have friends that never went past 61st until they built Walmart there. Next plant trade we'll stop again and I can load up what little space is left with more cactus and succulents.

Jodi-WHAT is going on with this site? You're post was there, then it was gone. Same thing with several other forums.

Some plants won't bloom if not pot bound, rickrack catus for one. Or so I'm told. Then you have bonsai, which definately thrive if well taken care of. That's kind of a different situation though as you are forcing them to be miniature. I know my tc/cc do better if a bit rootbound, I get more blooms and less rot. There used to be one on a porch by the high school, it was there for 20 years I know of, in the same pot, never got replanted and bloomed like crazy. The lady that lived there died and her family THREW the plant away!!! They threw out all her plants, dug up the garden, killed the tree hanging car motors from it and it's a big mud pit now.

Tally HO!

    Bookmark   December 30, 2009 at 2:40PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

The GardenWeb gremlins strike again....!
Howdy, Garden Goers! I posted this yesterday, but it was lost in the back-up.
A great Thread on the very topic of root-bound plants. A lot of information to consider.

Josh

Here is a link that might be useful: Myth: This Plant Likes/Prefers to be Root-bound

    Bookmark   December 30, 2009 at 6:26PM
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luvofroses

Josh thanks for such a great link. Al always has good advice. My peace lillies will be happy to know that they can go into larger pots soon. I really had never thought too much about it.Just did what I read on here since I am so new I took things like that as gospel, but no one has died but now maybe they can be happier. I will be making my soil a little grittier I just love to see new leaves and a bigger plant ( the flowers are a bonus for me) Maybe my holiday cacti would like to be in a little larger pots. My Thanksgiving one that I wrote originally about seems to be doing better. I have watched the heat and held off the water. So we will see. I want them to grow larger and arch in that beautiful way they have. To me that is so pretty.
Ann in So Ut

    Bookmark   December 30, 2009 at 7:29PM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

Larger pots aren't a good idea for CC/TC (unless their roots are bursting out of the pot). They have pretty small, insignificant looking roots. I think you'll run further risk of rot, pottign them larger, especially if you're new at this. Also, I'd asked why you repotted the new one so soon (maybe your answer disappeared), but I wouldn't repot that one for sure. I'm curious, why are you holding off on water? Did it just bloom, otherwise I wouldn't be holding off on the water.

Those plants just need some time to grow, I know it's fun & exciting to see new growth & one wants to encourage that, but one thing folks often forget to teach folks new to plants is sometimes all that's required is TIME & PATIENCE. We simply have to let it happen.

BeachPlant,

Hi, I think I'm the one who suggested you pot down that Sans. I later said, well I couldn't see that from the top, which is true. Also, until you turn it out one can't know that the rootball is really so big as to need it --it could just be a wayward root wandering off in its own direction, which could just be clipped to allow it to stay in the pot if the rootball weren't that large. You'll have to see & I'd be curious to hear what you find.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2009 at 8:17PM
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jodik_gw

Too large a pot size can't be used depending upon the soil type you're using... if you use a peat based, fine-particled medium, the larger pot will just hold more moisture for a longer period of time, which again, is not conducive to healthy root growth.

However, if you're using a medium that freely drains and does not hold moisture for a long time, a larger pot can most certainly be employed without any ill effects.

Any plant will bloom on its own genetically pre-programed schedule, given all cultural conditions are right. If you don't want to wait for that, you must force the plant to react to a stress... i.e., keep it root bound. But that's not to say that a plant won't bloom unless it's pot bound, because it will... it just won't do it when YOU want it.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2009 at 10:56PM
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luvofroses

Pirate Girl I'm sorry I didn't see your post. The reason my new Thanksgiving Cactus was repotted was it was sitting in "concrete" It had a few buds but not flowering my thinking was to sacrifice the few buds versus the whole plant being in bad soil. The holding off on the water is because I watered too soon after I repotted and didn't give it a chance to settle in. It still has dampness so I will give it more when it has dried a bit more. Norma directed me to the FAQs and I saw where heat could be a factor and my dh keeps the house very warm when he is home so I am keeping an eye on the temp. The last few days have seen no more segments falling off so maybe that has stopped. I have patience with all my plants just didn't want this particular cactus to continue falling apart. None of my other holiday cacti have done this. Thanks
Ann in So Ut

    Bookmark   December 31, 2009 at 12:40AM
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Patty zone 5

I have started a new thread about variegated schlumbergera if you are interested....

    Bookmark   December 31, 2009 at 9:29AM
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