Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Random plant event: Hatiora (?) NOID

This is a good news / bad news random plant event. The good news is that there was a bloom --

-- and the bad news is that I think it's probably the only one I'll ever see.

And it's already finished.

I got the plant in question from a reader last May. It was very large and full then, and got larger and fuller for several months, which was great. And then in early October, it began to shatter, dropping a few segments here and there. Which was disturbing. Then it did it again in mid-October. Finally, at some point in early November, it blew itself completely the fuck up. (I think the largest remaining piece had about six segments to it. Just, segments everywhere. Oh the humanity.) Also, it got a sort of dusty look to it, like maybe there were spider mites, though I didn't see spider mites on any of the plants that were nearby. And we have a lot of dust here, so it's sometimes hard to be sure.

So I sprayed with neem oil and dishwashing liquid. And was rewarded with another shattering. I pulled all the pieces out, cleaned off any rotten bits, and replanted all of them into new pots and new soil, carefully balancing them against one another so they would stay more or less upright. Then a couple weeks later the husband decided to wipe off the table they were sitting on, and moved the pots of rooting segments, which then all fell out and had to be replanted again, with the careful balancing and etc. But did I say anything mean to him about this? I did not. Because I am a saint.

In the midst of all this chaos, though, a flower bud formed on one of the segments, and against all odds, it developed fully, was open for about 3-4 days, and then dropped off. And then it was over.

The segments have now been sitting for maybe three weeks, undisturbed, and I don't think they're rooting terribly well. Even if they are rooting, they probably aren't going to root upright, like the plant was when it arrived, and I'm not optimistic about the long-term prospects of the plant, but both hope and the plants are still alive.

From the Schlumbergera profile, I see I wrote

Easter cacti aren't particularly popular because they're harder to grow: if they're in a draft, too wet, or too dry, they shatter, dropping all the stem segments, which is obviously kind of a jerky, passive-aggressive thing to do. Also they're less consistent bloomers. Which is also passive-aggressive. Basically Easter cacti are pricks, is what I'm saying. Care is basically the same as Schlumbergera, but the margin for error is much narrower.
The most likely cause, according to that, would be draft, followed by too wet: they're in the plant room, and the door we use most to get in and out of the house is in there too.

There's a pretty good chance, based on the flower color and flower timing, that it wasn't an Easter cactus (Hatiora) after all, but was instead a true-Christmas Christmas cactus (one of the older Schlumbergera hybrids). I have no way to tell at the moment.1

I don't have any immediate plans to write a plant profile on Easter cacti, but if I did, I'm thinking I'd have to choose Suicide Bomber, or possibly Patsy Cline,2 as the "person."

Probably Patsy. Very few suicide bombers blow themselves up more than once. Though an argument could be made for suicide bombers being more passive-aggressive than Patsy Cline.


My other Hatiora NOID, which was sold to me as a wildly-overpriced Rhipsalidopsis, has orange flowers, has doubled or tripled in size since I got it (also last May), and has yet to shatter at all. They've been right next to one another, getting the same care, same temperature, same humidity, so the fragility is soil-related, cultivar-related, or both. For whatever that's worth.


1 Easter cacti were previously known as Rhipsalidopsis, and are often sold under that name, though at the moment our botano-taxonomic overlords are preferring Hatiora to Rhipsalidopsis. These Hatioras also strongly resemble Schlumbergeras, especially the older Christmas-blooming Schlumbergeras, so misidentification is common.
Hatioras are a lot more prone to shattering, as a rule, but both genera can shatter. (My Schlumbergera x buckleyi, also a reader trade, has done a tiny bit of this in early December.) I'm continuing to assume that the plant I'm talking about in this post is a Hatiora, because: that's how it's written down on the spreadsheets and elsewhere in the blog, that's what the original owner thought it was, it allegedly blooms in spring, and the shape and texture of the segments is subtly different from the plants I have that I'm pretty sure are Schlumbergera x buckleyi.
On the other hand, I have no way of ruling out that it's a Schlumbergera either, since both plants could produce actinomorphic magenta flowers in early December. Either time will tell, or the plant will die and make the question moot.
2 "I Fall to Pieces" (YouTube)


Ginny Burton said...

"botano-taxonomic overlords" Did you say "overlords"? You meant "protectors," right?

Long Haired Lady Rider said...

Oh what a drag! Especially because the flower is really cute. And since Schlumbergera won the Rumble in the Jungle, this cousin oughta be a little bit tougher than that. Maybe Schlumbergera never taught Hatiora how to take a punch.

I heard somewhere along the line that all of these types of plants, but especially Hatiora, need to be summered outdoors in dappled shade in order to keep them from shattering. So that was what I did with mine, and the Hatiora is thriving. Indoors it lives under lights with average-to-low household humidity and temps. I have it in an oyama planter and let it get fairly dry before I refill the reservoir.

The buckleyi that I got from you last spring croaked in August. So fickle...

Ivynettle said...

I'm sure that's a Hatiora, not a Schlumbergera.

I've never had problems like this with any of my Hatioras, but one of the Schlums did exactly the same thing. I think it was some sort of fungal disease - there were two cuttings in that pot, and one of them threw itself to pieces, and the stump rotted, while the other was fine. So I don't think it was reacting to outside influences like drafts.

I treat all my holiday cacti the same way, and they all behave well for me - shove them out on the balcony (sheltered and shady spot) in April or May, leave them out until it gets close to freezing at night, then put them in the (south-facing) bedroom window, where both the heating and the light stay off. And I hardly ever water them until they're getting a little shrivelled.

Tom said...

I concur with Ivynettle, that is most definitely a Hatoria.