Houseplants forum→I am cursed with holiday cacti

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Name: Bria
Northern VA (Zone 7a)
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Bschmuck
Jan 2, 2021 5:58 PM CST
Me again! Ok guys, I have more problems. My MIL also just brought me a Holiday cactus and it looks beautiful, but there are lots of what appears to be spider webs in it.

Is this spider mites? There is a huge HOLE in one of the stems! Do spider mites do that? How do I fix this?

I promise, I will never ask for a Holiday cactus again.
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Name: Sally
central Maryland
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sallyg
Jan 7, 2021 7:13 AM CST
I know you've solved this on another thread. But for the sake of this one, I'd say these are mass produced and expected to be short lived, almost like a cut flower.
i'm pretty OK today, how are you? ;^)
Name: cheapskate gardener
South Florida (Zone 10a)
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hlutzow
Jan 7, 2021 7:44 AM CST
Even the mass produced ones can live a very long time with proper care.

It could have spider mites. When I bring a new schlumbergera home I always give it a good shower and then treat it with insecticidal soap.

For some reason, they almost always have something lurking. I think because of the horrible colored plastic sheets that are wrapped around the pots to make them look 'pretty'.
If your jade plant looks happy, put down the watering can and walk away slowly.
Name: Bria
Northern VA (Zone 7a)
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Bschmuck
Jan 7, 2021 8:50 AM CST
@sallyg yea, this one was REALLY short-lived 😆.
Name: Lynda Horn
Arkansas (Zone 7b)
Eat more tomatoes!
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gardenfish
Jan 7, 2021 9:43 AM CST
I can say that those bought from grocery stores, specially the ones sold at Krogers, come in on the refrigerated produce trucks, and they are placed right up at the front of the trailer where the cold, frigid air is blowing directly on them. When I worked at the florist shop at Krogers we got in many shipments of plants that were killed from riding in refrigerated trucks. Also it is very hard on Christmas cactuses to be transported in bloom; any difference in temperature and light conditions causes them to drop their flower buds. Many plants do not do well being torn away from nurseries and shipped across the country.
Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.
Mother Teresa
Name: Bria
Northern VA (Zone 7a)
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Bschmuck
Jan 7, 2021 10:22 AM CST
Yea, this guy was shipped in bloom from a nursery, and their grower is located in Canada! It went through a lot before it finally made it to me.

But it was also infested with European Pepper Moth larvae, and they ate the whole thing from its basal stems, so there's that. Haha!
Name: Bria
Northern VA (Zone 7a)
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Bschmuck
Jan 7, 2021 10:42 AM CST
Sorry, I realize I never updated this post. I had double posted on another one of my posts about a different holiday cactus problem before I decided I should make a separate post about this different plant.

This guy was infested with these gross things I found after I posted this. They are an invasive species, European Pepper Moth larvae. They make silk webbing that was the webs I saw, and they hang out at the soil surface feasting on basal stems and have tunnels underneath the soil feasting on roots. There were larvae of all different stages and possibly eggs. I destroyed the whole thing and saved cuttings.

As you can see from photos, it was a bloodbath! Some stems were almost completely severed.
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Name: cheapskate gardener
South Florida (Zone 10a)
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hlutzow
Jan 7, 2021 2:35 PM CST
Refrigerated trucks! No wonder.
If your jade plant looks happy, put down the watering can and walk away slowly.
Name: Sue Taylor
Northumberland, UK
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kniphofia
Jan 9, 2021 9:19 AM CST
People make a lot of money from growing and selling "holiday" plants such as Poinsettias and Christmas cactus. They want you to buy a new one the following year, so it's not surprising the stores don't take better care of them. These plants in particular suffer from temperature fluctuations, draughts etc.
If you really want a holiday cactus which will thrive - and some do last for generations - buy one from a reputable local nursery, and not from a big box store where they are often displayed in the draughty entrance. Otherwise accept them as a temporary pot plant.
Name: Lynda Horn
Arkansas (Zone 7b)
Eat more tomatoes!
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gardenfish
Jan 9, 2021 12:25 PM CST
I kind of agree with Sue. Of my two plants, only one was purchased from a store during the holidays; I purchased it in bud and it did lose a lot of them the first few weeks I had it. Even these can be nursed back to health by a determined gardener, but I never buy plants with a supposed insect issue any more. Years ago I bought a coleus from a nursery! No less! that had mealie bugs. It infected all my plants. I saved my plants, but it took time and repeated applications of alcohol with a tips. I had to throw the coleus away.
Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.
Mother Teresa
Name: Rose
Colorado Springs, CO (Zone 5b)
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romalu
Jan 12, 2021 11:48 AM CST
My Thanksgiving cactus was a Walmart rescue, in December 2017. It had been stuck out in their heated-but-uninsulated greenhouse/garden section with their other houseplants, right up against the wall where it was really cold! The plant itself seemed fine actually (green and firm and no obvious issues), but the stress had made it drop all its buds, so I wasn't sure what color it would be.

I was really new to plants at that time so I didn't really know what I was doing or what to expect with it. I brought it home, stuck it in my sunny spare room a few feet away from the window, and mostly ignored it. Didn't repot, watered only about every other week when it was pretty bone dry (I was afraid of overwatering). It did absolutely nothing for about a month, and then suddenly popped out a handful of new buds in late January. Flowers turned out to be bright red!

I finally got it repotted in March. It's been a pretty easy plant ever since. I water whenever the last segments start to feel thin and limp, and feed monthly or so in late spring -> early fall with succulent or diluted houseplant food. It grows a good number of new clades in summer and puts on a huge bloom show every November, as well as smaller numbers of scattered flowers off and on through the winter (perks of cold dry winters!). I've been able to root and propagate some broken-off segments, too.

From what I've learned/seen, the most important thing is keeping it on the drier side, both in terms of letting it dry fairly well between waterings (moisture meter, seriously) and making sure the soil is well-draining enough for your conditions (may want to use a succulent mix or add some orchid mix to your potting soil). It may be a tropical plant but it's also an epiphytic succulent, after all!

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[Last edited by romalu - Jan 12, 2021 12:23 PM (+)]
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Name: Lynda Horn
Arkansas (Zone 7b)
Eat more tomatoes!
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gardenfish
Jan 12, 2021 12:57 PM CST
Just beautiful! You do have the knack! Hurray!
Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.
Mother Teresa
Name: Bria
Northern VA (Zone 7a)
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Bschmuck
Jan 8, 2022 7:28 PM CST
Update: After I took cuttings from this plant and destroyed the rest, I propagated 2 more plants and they just started blooming. Life after European Pepper Moth larvae infestation is possible!
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Name: cheapskate gardener
South Florida (Zone 10a)
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hlutzow
Jan 8, 2022 8:02 PM CST
Hurray! Congrats on the save!
If your jade plant looks happy, put down the watering can and walk away slowly.

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