My husband had a Christmas cactus from when he lived in Florida. He saw it in a Styrofoam cup at a flea market and it amazed him that it 'knew' to bloom at Christmas. So he bought it. Then it moved back with him and sat (in that cup) on his mothers windowsill for several years. It never bloomed. A few years after we got married, when we moved out to the sticks it moved out here with us. He said "I think it's broken" in that sad crushed dreams way little kids often use. I told him I'd fix it. Re-potting, good soil, some food, water and the appropriate amount of dark/light and I had it blooming that fall. He was so impressed! I'm still not quite as talented at these things as I could be, I always get it to bloom...but about a month early! Close enough, right?
Since then it's grown well, but in sort of a spindly fashion. I've always liked the big bushy plants and while it has been growing, it's not quite how I want it. This winter I decided to prune it. I did all my research. I must have read 20 sites on how to prune. They all said to prune after it blooms to promote growth. So I pruned. Some I pinched, some I cut...but prune I did. I removed pieces that weren't thriving. I removed excess branching. I removed all the tiny pieces. I removed at least 2 segments on every branch. I did everything it said to make it grow nice and bushy and full. I moved it to the top of a cabinet, out of direct sunlight.
After a few weeks I could see tiny nubs growing out of the cut spots. I assumed it was growing larger, until I looked closer one day and noticed....those are flower buds! I moved it down to the light so we could enjoy this second blooming, but it has baffled me since! So why did it bloom instead of grow? Well, it's been a bit more research but I think I have it figured out. I watered it right after pruning and I fed it just a little before I put it up on it's low light perch. When I was doing my original research, I did see where it said it could be forced to flower again around Easter....but I had totally skipped reading that part since that's not what I wanted to do. I should have read it so I knew what not to do! Some would say that maybe I pruned it too soon after blooming and should have waited a month or so. I've even found site recently that recommend pruning in summer before the plant starts growing again for fall. I think it's kind of like trees or grapes, you want to prune after they become dormant but before they start to grow again for the new season. Make sense?
Thankfully, the plant is fine. I didn't screw it up, just didn't do what I wanted. *sigh* The good part is that I got to see it bloom again and I have all those cuttings rooting nicely in with my lavender which was super simple! I just let them dry out for a day, then planted them in potting soil. I watered them the nest day and they're starting to grow. Within a few months they will be a nice size and I should have them ready by Christmas to give as simple homesteading/gardening gifts.
So....is this a fail or a win?
(a big thank you to everyone for hanging in here with me through my non-posting times as I recover from my quad accident/concussion. I have the worlds best readers! Thanks!)