How to delay Christmas cactus blooms

Light exposure and temperature are key

  • Rugosa Rose Rosa
Rugosa Rose Rosa (Ellen Nibali, Baltimore…)
November 14, 2013|By Ellen Nibali, For The Baltimore Sun

As soon as I brought my Christmas cactus indoors, it budded. It has finished blooming before Thanksgiving! How can I slow it down next year?

Night temperatures of 50-55 degrees initiate bud formation on this jungle cactus, also known as Thanksgiving cactus, Easter cactus, and Claw cactus. Next year, bring it in before nights get cool — late summer or very early fall. Those grown indoors year-round or brought in for the winter can be encouraged to bloom by giving them about 13 hours of darkness nightly. Ordinarily this means keeping them in a room where lights are not left on all evening.

I want to give my sister a shrub as a Thanksgiving hostess gift. Will she still be able to plant it outside after Thanksgiving or should she keep it indoors?

If her gift is a shrub that is normally grown outdoors — such as a viburnum or yew — it will do best if she plants it in the ground. Planting can continue through fall and into winter as long as the ground is not frozen. This is true for trees and perennials as well.

Plant of the week

Rugosa Rose

Rosa rugosa

When planning the multiseason garden, an unusual choice is rugosa rose, with leaves puckered like seersucker, summer flower show, fall color and, to top it off, red rose hips. These hips (seed capsules) are substantial enough to stand out in the landscape. Like all roses, look for a highly disease-resistant cultivar. "Frau Dagmar Hastrup" produces a profusion of fragrant, light pink single flowers and plenty of big red hips that are showy from summer onwards. Plant in full sun with good air circulation and well-drained, slightly acid soil with some organic matter. Rugosa rose is highly salt-tolerant, suckers into clumps, and so robust it can naturalize. Rose hips can be used in soups, jam, teas and as a vitamin C supplement. — Ellen Nibali

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