Nov Dec Jan
Feb Mar
Apr May Jun
Jul Aug

Cacti and succulents are dormant, dry and cool at well below 10oC(50oF), but above 4oC(40oF). They are using up the excess products of last year's growth, and getting into condition for break-dormancy and next season's new growth. The flower buds are probably 'set' and ready to burst forth to dazzle us with their beauty in April and later.

Just now, though, the plants are shrunken somewhat, but not shrivelled, and some have even been pulled down partly into the soil by their shrinking roots. Many fine roots and all feeder roots are dried up. All's well. These are survival characters. By such means these "xerophytes" survive the harsh climates in which they evolved.

Many Crassulas, the group of succulents including Jade Plants and Echeverias (Tropical Hens and Chickens) will start to show signs of growth in January/February. Try this: Give them moderate water at this time, warmth around 12oC(56oF) in daytime, and cool about 8oC(48oF) at night.

Thanksgiving Cactus in NOVEMBER is in glorious bloom. Outside treatment, from June to September, has hardened off new growth, triggered budding and all is well. Christmas Cactus is starting to show buds and also has profited from its outside sojourn. Never let the soil of these dry out completely (it greatly reduces blooms) but do not keep them wet for long either. In other words, be sure the soil drains very well. Irrigate thoroughly when the top 1 or 2cm (5/8") of soil is dry. No fertilizer at this time. If the white- and the yellow-flowered thanksgiving cacti are too pink, you've kept them too cool and/or too bright after you brought them inside. These should be kept at above 20oC(68oF) and in just a little shade.

Some Orchid Cacti might rush into bloom at this time but, with luck and good culture, these epiphytes might pause for winter then bloom fabulously again, starting in March/April.

Christmas Cactus in DECEMBER should be starting into bloom. Thanksgiving cactus is reducing the number of its blooms. Both are still beautiful. High potash fertilizer last July or so has made the flower colours richer, deeper and more vibrant.

In JANUARY, Christmas Cactus reduces the number of flowers (this depends on many factors). Thanksgiving Cactus may bloom again in February/March, and Christmas Cactus in April/May.

In these three months, and until late February, Thanksgiving and Christmas Cacti, as well as Easter and Orchid Cacti can be kept in full winter sunlight with profit, but if you notice any reddening of the segments, start shading them a little.

Paul J. Brunelle
Oct. 5, 2001