Today, when I considered what to write about I was torn between planned obsolescence and Schlumbergera. What?! Huh? I understand that both of these topics might look over the top, and, at least one of them is. Planned Obsolescence has been on my mind for over a month when I noticed that we could not use the NEW iPad case for my son’s new iPad. The case, a birthday present, was for a sixth-generation iPad. However, when we went to purchase the iPad, one could only now purchase the seventh generation! Of course, the size was different, constituting the purchase of yet another case. Wow, those capitalists are smart! Of course, in calling them smart I’m referring to their ability to generate a profit for their companies. But, they are not so intelligent when it comes to waste reduction or what is good for the environment.
However, since planned obsolescence is a heavy-duty topic and one that I am not entirely qualified or prepared to write about, I elected to turn to the ever so lovely and popular Schlumbergera. Again, you say, what?!
Schlumbergera, or some of its cultivars. are also commonly known as Christmas Cactus or Thanksgiving Cactus. They are some of the most lovely and unusual plants to which I have a long connection. For years, during our holiday plant unit in garden club, I taught about the Christmas Cactus. Here are some facts that the students found amazing:
- It is a true cactus, meaning that it has no leaves. Most of what you see is stem, aside from the flowers which range in color from white to fuschia to red.
- It is a cactus that is native to the Brazilian rainforest. Yes, not all cacti live in a dry desert environment.
- This plant thrives where there are days of high humidity and quick, frequent rains.
- The Schlumbergera is an epiphytic plant. This means that they absorb nutrients directly from the moisture-laden atmosphere.
- This group of cacti grows high in the trees of the rainforest where they receive filtered (not bright) light and excellent drainage.
- The timing of the flowering depends on the photoperiod (hours of daylight) the plant receives. Therefore, you might hear them referred to as Thanksgiving Cactus or Holiday Cactus.
- Cacti and Cactuses are both acceptable plural spellings of the word cactus.
For our activity during this unit (EE should always have a hands-on activity), we took cuttings from my own Christmas cacti or ones that I bought specifically to demonstrate this method of plant reproduction. It was fun, easy, and rewarding! Each student got to take a cutting home to start their own cactus. The best years were those when I could offer them part of my own cactus!
Besides using this plant for lessons at holiday time, I have personal connections as well. My mom and grandmother both had several Christmas Cactuses. During a recent trip home, I was fortunate enough to catch several of my mom’s plants in bloom. A few were my grandmother’s plants, inherited by my mom! They were stunning in her garden room! Next time I’m there, I’ll have to take a cutting or two! Some of my mom’s plants are over a quarter-century old! She must take really good care of them!
Have you ever grown Schlumbergera? If so, how long did it live?