Tis Wednesday and I am Unraveled
Cold Mountain

Waiting, Waiting, Waiting

I bought an expensive bulb to replace the sad and sagging amaryllis that flopped. One of our local nurseries specializes in all things beautiful and this bulb came highly recommended. I have been waiting and waiting. 


Sadly, I am about to give up. Do I give up? There is no cost for staying vigilant for a couple more weeks, but I have been watching and waiting for this and the two amaryllis below to do show some sign of life since Thanksgiving. There is so much hope in both pots. 


 Can you see the tiny bit of green coming up on the right? I thought it was a bud, but it's turned out to be just leaves (again). This may not be the year of pretty red blossoms in the Smith house. Oh well, there's always next year. 


And then, there is the Christmas cactus, which I bought because of Bonny's beautiful specimen. I had hopes it would rebloom this year as I have kept it alive--which is a feat.  Even though it looks good, it shows no sign of blossoming, only a few new leaves. I am not the best at plant care. In fact, I go beyond benign neglect, sometimes forgetting about them altogether.  It's no wonder my expectations are not met. It may be too late to do much, but this week  have tended them, kept a check on their water needs, and have even considered picking up some plant food for the cacti(?).  Oh well, there's always next year. 


I am not very good at plant care, either; never have been!!
I would NOT give up on the amaryllis!

No, don't give up! I've had some amaryllis take a long time to get started and then produce glorious blossoms in the dead of winter, just when we and our souls need them. Christmas cactus have some pretty specific light and temperature needs to set blossoms. What works for me is putting mine outside in the spring when our temps are around 50, leaving them outside all summer, then bringing them inside to my uninsulated mud porch before the first frost. The plant needs about 16 hours of darkness and temps around 60 to set buds, and exposure to indoor light can disrupt bud formation. It might sound complicated, but I think if you can find a place that is cool and dark, you will get buds on yours, maybe not this year, but certainly next year. Benign neglect, dark, and cooler temps at the right time will work!

Do not despair about the blooms on either of these. You may not get them for Christmas, but they are likely to come through later, maybe in January or February, when we really need the color in our lives. Last year, I had an amaryllis rebloom--in July! And one of my three Christmas cacti likes to bloom in April. Proof positive that plants pay no attention to our calendar.

Try putting the cacti by a cool window. They don't bloom if they're too warm.

I had no success with my amaryllis last year, and I have not seen one thus far this year! I hope you have some signs of life soon!

Is that a different cactus from the one you've had on your dining table? I seem to remember that one blooming like crazy earlier this year. (I was going to ask you for a start from it since it was so gorgeous!) If this is a different one, it probably just has its own schedule and will bloom when it feels like it.

We've got an amaryllis going to that I have my doubts about. Time will tell! I do know it says water sparsely until the first green shows...however you define that! :-)

Each amaryllis cultivar has it's own "story" and bloom timeline. Be patient! The ones that are mass-sold in grocery stores and big box stores are cultivated for quick and easy blooms, while many of the more fussy (and expensive) bulbs are much, much slower. And - just like tulips or crocus or other bulbs - there are early and late bloomers. Just keep watching and waiting. (I had one last year that I was CERTAIN was a failure. Nope. Just incredibly slow. Incredibly. It finally bloomed 6 weeks after my others -- and it was just gorgeous!)

As for your Christmas cactus? I have two - one is at least 15 years old and the other is about 10. They live in Eastern/Southern exposure windows year-round; I never do anything to them except water them when I remember - which is pretty sporadic. Both of them bloom at least twice a year -- but never at Christmas. I don't think either of them bloomed when they were "new" -- it took awhile for the blooming to start. So don't give up. But don't fuss much with them, either. (Keep them out of direct sunlight.)

Agreeing with everyone not to give up. An amaryllis blooming in February would be a wonderful gift of color! My Christmas cactus has not bloomed in years. It is from a cutting of one that was in my Grandmother's house that bloomed every year several times. I don't want to get rid of it, but I'm disappointed that it has stopped blooming. I may try moving it to a cooler room.

I have found that some Christmas/ Thanksgiving cacti take a hiatus or bloom months past their usual time. Why don't you go get a bunch of paper whites narcissi to force while you wait. They are pretty easy. May shame the others into blooming! 😜

I'm not sure about the amaryllis, but I would say to be patient. I had one that bloomed a couple of years ago. I tried to get it to re-bloom last year, but was unsuccessful.
As for the Christmas Cactus, you might in fact have a Valentine or Easter Cactus.
Check out this website for info:
I have a number of them of different varieties and they bloom serially throughout the winter, beginning with Thanksgiving. I find if I put them in a spare room with the thermostat lowered a bit, in front of a window, it encourages them to bloom. Once they are blooming, I move them out to the living areas and they do okay.
Good luck!

I have two Christmas cacti and one blooms and the other does not. They are in the same spot and I tend to both....not sure why. Don't give up on your bulbs I see some green.

Agree with the previous comments. The cactus in particular is 'light' sensitive / triggered for blooming. Usually it should be shortening days and lengthening nights and no interruptions in the 'dark'/night period (like someone turning on the lights in the room) My mom was ready to give her massive non-blooming cactus the heave-ho and then it bloomed! profusely. We all said it was because she threatened it, but more likely she placed it on a stand in the dining room's south window. She made a 'blackout' curtain from solid plastic around 3 sides of the stand that blocked the room light. It then bloomed regularly for her for many years. Once they start to bloom you can uncover them for that season and the light amount does not matter. :)

I LOVE all the detailed responses here - your blog readership is a veritable encyclopedia of plant knowledge! I have three amaryllis bulbs that look about like yours - I'm hoping for blooms in late January, so I think they're going to be right on schedule.

I am not an expert on getting plants to bloom, but my personal experience is that these darn things often bloom months after you expect. Hang in, Margene, if you can. They may surprise you.

I put my Christmas cactus outside in the early summer and then bring it in when the cool weather comes. This usually works for getting it to bloom but not at Christmas! I haven't gotten an amaryllis yet but I'm headed to the Cape today to meet up with Doreen and I'm going to try and find one at a nursery there.

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