Cold December days stand outside the window, and a bouquet of red flowers has blossomed in the room. You say this is impossible? Not at all. Meet the Decembrist, who got its name precisely for flowering in the winter season, when most plants rest.
The official name of the Decembrist is the Schlumberger zygocactus, which he received thanks to the French collector and biologist Frederic Schlumberberg, who discovered this new species of forest cactus. Schlumbergera is a southern resident, its main habitat is Brazilian subtropical forests. In the natural environment, the plant is in the constant shade of large counterparts in a warm, humid microclimate. Hence the dislike of direct sunlight and the minimum requirements for the mineral composition of the soil. Being a representative of epiphytic, zygocactus likes to attach to other plants or trees.
In Brazil, one can observe an amazing sight when the Decembrists hang from the trees with a colorful motley carpet. At the same time, the zigocactus uses them more as a support, and receives all the necessary food with the help of thin aerial roots. A fairly compact root system with thin processes located in the upper layers of the soil is used for easy attachment to the roots and trunks of trees.
At home, the flower feels great in an ordinary pot of earth.
The plant is a small bush with branched stems. Leaflets are flat segmented, covered with small denticles along the edges (not to be confused with needles). Leaf length is usually up to 5 cm. Flowering begins in November and lasts until January. The flowers are plentiful, multi-tiered, reaching a size of 6 cm or more. In nature, they are bright scarlet. Breeding specimens can be of various shades: from soft cream to raspberry and spectacular lilac. The life span of each flower is very short: no more than 5 days.
Zygocactus is a recognized long-liver. With proper care and watering, it can live up to 20 years. Although the official name of the Decembrist contains the root “cactus”, the rules for caring for the flower are slightly different than for the traditional representatives of the Cactus family. Given the characteristics of the natural growth environment, flower growers have identified the main recommendations for caring for a Christmas flower.
- The best location is the eastern windows, where there is no bright sunlight, but at the same time there is soft diffused light.
- Rozhdestvennik loves temperature stability. At the same time, he is completely non-capricious, resistant to cool: he lives quietly at a temperature of +10 and + 15 °. But still, the + 18– + 25 ° mode will be ideal for flowering.
- In the warm season, it is advisable to take it out of the house or open the windows. Fresh air is good for the plant.
- Regular spraying is not out of place. In summer - several times a week, less often in winter, 1-2 times a month is enough.
- When caring for a flower, it is necessary to maintain moderate humidity. You can put Schlumberger on a tray with wet moss.
- It is necessary to observe the increased frequency of watering in the summer. After the onset of autumn and in December, immediately before budding, reduce the flow of moisture. In the spring, watering is done as the soil dries.
- With the formation of buds and active flowering, it is better not to disturb the zygocactus, not to change its location.
- In the spring-summer period, fertilize.
The last point is very important.
What is feeding necessary for?
The use of fertilizers is primarily necessary to replenish the mineral salts that are washed out of the soil during irrigation. Due to its natural epiphytic qualities, the forest cactus does not impose increased requirements on the composition of the substrate. However, like any houseplant, it still needs periodic vitamin-mineral nutrition for abundant and prolonged flowering.
Sometimes buds do not form on an apparently healthy Decembrist. It’s enough to add nutrients with potassium so that it blooms in a few weeks.
If the deficit of minerals in the substrate is critically small, then the flower will signal the following symptoms:
- slow growth;
- painful stems;
- small light green leaves;
- spots and yellowness on the leaves;
- lack of flowers in the autumn-winter period.
In this case, an urgent soil enrichment procedure is needed, otherwise the flower will simply die.
The time of feeding depends on the life cycle of Schlumberger, these cycles are very important to consider. The most favorable period of soil enrichment will be the spring-summer period. And undesirable - autumn, when the flower is at rest. Florists distinguish 4 basic flower conditions.
- Vegetation (March - September). The best time to feed the flower with special nitrogen-containing fertilizers for cacti, since it is nitrogen that is very necessary during the period of active growth of the stem and leaves. The frequency of the procedure is not more than 1-2 times a month.
- Peace (October). During this period, it is better to stop fertilizing the soil and rearrange the plant in a cool place for the formation of buds. You can leave a flower on the balcony if the temperature does not drop below 10 ° C.
- Flowering (November - January). Since November, the Decembrist is transferred to heat and fed with mixtures containing phosphorus. When budding begins, a potassium solution is added to the watering. Potassium is a stimulant for the growth of flower buds; it will help the blooming zigocactus in opening buds.
- Secondary rest (February - March). It is necessary to adhere to the same principles as during the period of autumn dormancy.
What and how to fertilize?
To feed the Decembrist, you can buy ready-made fertilizers or make them yourself at home. Specialized stores for gardeners offer a wide range of different solutions. Suitable liquid mixtures for succulents and cacti. The chemical composition formula NPK (nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium) is always indicated on the labels of these products. For room Schlumberger, the ideal formula is (10X6X8). Such solutions are applied to wet soil at the rate of 100 ml per 1 liter of soil or in accordance with the manufacturer's recommendations on the label.
If it is not possible to purchase ready-made mixtures, you can make a nutrient solution at home. Florists use folk remedies for fertilizer.
- Boric acid is mainly used for foliar feeding. To do this, 1 g of acid is diluted in hot water, and then 1 l of cold is added. Spraying zigocactus with 0.1% boron mixture during flowering and budding enhances the flow of sugars to the generative organs and increases the flowering intensity. During fertilizer, direct sunlight should be avoided so that the plant does not get burned. For irrigation boric acid is diluted in a proportion of 1-2 grams per 10 liters of water.
- Iodine improves metabolic processes in plant tissues and is an excellent prevention of various diseases. For root top dressing, it is important to strictly observe the proportions: 0.1 mg of iodine per 1 liter of water. Otherwise, the solution may burn Schlumberger or color the flowers in an unpleasant yellowish color. Watering must be done without touching the leaves and the basal part.
- Banana is rich in potassium, phosphorus and calcium. To prepare a nutritious powder, the skins are washed and dried on a battery or in an oven. When the banana peel turns dark brown, it is ground with a blender or coffee grinder. With the prepared powder, you can fertilize the earth in a pot, regularly adding small doses when watering.
- Hydrogen peroxide saturates the soil with oxygen. The chemical composition of peroxide resembles water, and houseplants react to it quite favorably. The substance inhibits the number of harmful bacteria and microorganisms, promotes the growth of Decembrists and accelerates flowering. The irrigation solution is prepared in the following proportion: 20 ml of hydrogen peroxide (3%) per 1 liter of water. The use of the mixture is recommended no more than 1 time per week.
With fertilizer, Decembrists need to be careful, do not often water and spray the plant with various mineral compositions.
Signs of improper feeding
When feeding, it is important to understand and take into account the real needs of the plant, choose the right procedure period and dosage of minerals. An excess of fertilizers will also adversely affect the plant, as well as their absence. It is worth paying attention to certain signs of a flower with the wrong composition of minerals in the soil, with the appearance of which it is necessary to immediately stop feeding.
- Rapid aging and yellowness indicate an excess of phosphorus.
- A peculiar burn of the leaves, their death, necrosis occur with an excess of boron.
- The lack of flowering and the dark green hue of the stem indicate that the substrate is saturated with nitrogen.
- A change in shape, a lighter shade and lethargy of the leaves signal a glut of potassium.