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Thanksgiving cactus training

Posted by JAndrews 5 WI (jacobandrews@sbcglobal.net) on
Sun, Mar 3, 13 at 21:56

I have a little Thanksgiving cactus in a 4 inch pot. Most of its branches are still growing upwards. It also has the beginnings of a woody trunk at the base.

I actually like the woody trunk on cactuses quite a bit, and I'm not a huge fan of the long, trailing branches these guys usually have. So I was thinking I might keep it small and prune it tightly, especially the branches that don't grow upwards, and let the plant develop a thick, tree-like trunk.

I love those big old opuntias that grow into trees, and this guy reminds me a little of those, which is nice, since I don't think I could grow a tree in my tiny Wisconsin apartment :) I guess that makes this a quasi-bonsai project.

Does this all sound like a good idea? Is there anything I can do to encourage it to grow a thicker/woodier trunk, and would it be healthy for the plant? I'm guessing pruning would be the thing to do if I want thicker rather than longer growth.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Thanksgiving cactus training

I have never understood that these guys can be made to grow upward or 'trained' to do anything outside their normal growth habit, really. At a certain point, they're going to curve over to the sides, I think, and that's just how they are, unless you continually keep removing the new growth and don't let the plant grow.

Anyone, correct me if I'm mistaken.


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RE: Thanksgiving cactus training

Yeah, for sure. I'm planning on continuing to prune it in a certain shape, so maybe "train" isn't the right word, except maybe if there's a way to encourage the trunk to thicken (which might help it support more upward-growing branches? I don't know but it'd just be a side benefit either way).


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RE: Thanksgiving cactus training

I don't know that it would encourage the trunk to thicken. I've only heard that comes with age.

I don't know, it's up to you, but I personally don't imagine it making much of a difference in changing the look of the plant, more than keeping it stagnant by removing new growth and thus limiting the areas for blooms to develop.


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RE: Thanksgiving cactus training

Okay! I'm fine with it looking like a regular thanksgiving cactus, and I realize this might be more work than it's worth, but I thought it might be a fun project to try. Thanks for the advice.


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RE: Thanksgiving cactus training

I've done this very thing with a Christmas Cactus for several years now. I had heard that rooting a woody segment was more difficult, and so I took up the challenge and rooted a woody section in an upright position. Then, as the cutting bushed out, I began pruning off the heavy tips of the branches and thinning branches entirely.

What I recommend is that you grow your cutting in a fast-draining mix of orchid bark and perlite, with a pinch of porous grit or even a pinch of potting soil (and by pinch, I do mean very, very little). Then, simply water and fertilize throughout the growing season. Allow the cutting to bush out and feed energy back to the roots....then give it a hard-pruning and start the process over.

Once you've established a woody, upright trunk, you can allow the branch-tips to "weep" down normally, while still showing off the trunk. Here's my work-in-progress.


Josh


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RE: Thanksgiving cactus training

Great! That's exactly the kind of thing I'm going for. When would be the appropriate time to hard prune it? I would think at the beginning of its growing season, but should I wait until the middle or so when it's had a chance to branch out for a while and hopefully thicken the bottom?

Thanks for the picture, it's very inspiring.


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RE: Thanksgiving cactus training

Thanks! I'm glad you're giving it a try.

Houseplants tend to lose vitality over the Winter, and so they're at their lowest energy levels sometime around the beginning of the growing season. For this reason, I would wait until mid-May to do any work on the plant. Most important is getting it into a mix that can be watered thoroughly and frequently.

I prune mine at least twice a season - mid-May, and again at the end of Summer. Two more pics for you. A before and after from early October, 2011.

 photo DSCF9127.jpg

 photo DSCF9128.jpg


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RE: Thanksgiving cactus training

Great, thank you!


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RE: Thanksgiving cactus training

Not mine but was removed and then rooted from an older mother plant Even a common friend would agree it does thicken and will form if cut back
Exactly Josh and looking as good as it did before


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RE: Thanksgiving cactus training

Very nice! That's the kind of look I'm hoping for someday.

This post was edited by JAndrews on Tue, Mar 5, 13 at 0:05


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RE: Thanksgiving cactus training

the wooded trunk will develop with time. i usually trim mine after secondary blooming in mar-apr and then let it rest and water sparingly for a month or so.
i prune all limbs leaving sometimes 1 sometimes 2 segments after a fork. make sure you dont cut into the leaf, but trim at the seam between 2 segments.


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RE: Thanksgiving cactus training

this is after 3-4 years. you can see the 1-2 segments in the center are semi-woody. grown from tender end cuttings.


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RE: Thanksgiving cactus training

this was bought about 8 years ago, may be even 9. the bottom trunks totally wooded.


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RE: Thanksgiving cactus training

Man I love that Bonsai look! Nice job!


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RE: Thanksgiving cactus training

i am now much better with them then i used to be. i had a 15 year old white one, blooming faithfully, but really woody - and getting very big and sort of ratty ...and i junked it. now i would've figured out a way to trim it .
if you trim them every year, it'll maintain the shape, if you dont'...they just get out of control.

This post was edited by petrushka on Thu, Mar 7, 13 at 21:20


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