Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Blossom Time for Zygocactus

So, which family of plants can provide mass displays of colour through the months of May and June? The answer is Zygocactus (Schlumbergera hybrids).

Every May and June, zygocactus will produce their mass display of cheerful, tubular flowers.

May and June are the prime months for the mass flowering of zygocactus hybrids

Native to the highlands of the forests of south-eastern Brazil, zygocactus cultivars have been bred in a range of colours. The most common are in shades of pink and pale orange. However, there are excellent red, white and purple specimens. There are even some hybrid varieties in shades of pale gold.

Zygocactus cultivar 'White Fantasy'

Zygocactus are easy-care pot plants. Because of their origin, they are at home with high humidity. However, they will require just an occasional drink and some feeding with organic fertilisers to keep them healthy. In fact, my boys each had a zygocactus plant in their bedrooms for years. These tough little plants survived this long period of relative neglect, needing little more than a bright window to survive… and still flowered profusely!

An added bonus with zygocactus is that they are easy to propagate from stem segments. So, should you break any of the fragile stems, simply replant them for new pot specimens. 

After flowering, these tip segments can be pinched out and planted...

Zygos are long-living plants: we have two beautiful orange cultivars. These have been handed down to me from my father: at an estimate, they would be from thirty to forty years old. Over the years, some of the stems have withered and died but the plants have happily replaced these with beautiful new growth. Naturally, plants of this age have been re-potted many times. Our other plants are also in excess of ten years old.

A gorgeous hybrid, Strawberry Fantasy... This plant survived years of inattention in my son's bedroom!

Red cultivar 'Blazing Fantasy'

For most of the year, our zygocacti reside happily on a plant stand receiving only morning sun, but as the flowers appear we are happy to bring the plants indoors, for a short time, for beautiful winter colour. Be hesitant to introduce your blooming zygocactus into a home which receives heavy heating… the lovely flowers will wither quickly in these conditions.

Zygocactus 'Millie', a purple flowering variety. 

Finally, give your potted zygocactus an occasional turn. This will promote even, all-round growth. Older zygocactus plants which have not been regularly turned will grow towards the sun, becoming top-heavy and unbalanced.

A young plant of the red cultivar 'Sunburst Fantasy'
Wishing you hours of enjoyment and contentment in your garden…

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