Cactus and Tender Succulents forum: Can anyone offer tips on how to get this thing to bloom?

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Name: Lin
Florida Zone 9b, 10a

Region: United States of America Deer Region: Florida Charter ATP Member Million Pollinator Garden Challenge I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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plantladylin
Jul 20, 2017 7:06 PM CST
I've had this cactus for at least 4 years now and I'm wondering if it's ever going to bloom! When I got it, it was labeled Rattail Cactus (Disocactus flagelliformis) which is why I got it in the first place, hoping for those gorgeous dark pink to red flowers but I learned that ID was incorrect and I was told that it's actually the Dog-Tail Cactus (Strophocactus testudo) so my photos were moved over to that database entry.

I kept it in shade for a long while, then moved it to full sun where it stayed for almost a year and ended up looking bleached out and ratty. For the past year it's been hanging in an oak tree where it only gets morning sun and it looks so much happier and healthier, just no blooms! It's supposed to be a nocturnal bloomer but I've never seen any signs of buds, blooms ... or even spent blooms! I'm out in the front yard every day and look at this cactus as well as my Ric Rac Orchid Cactus (Selenicereus anthonyanus) which hangs in the same oak tree so I would have at least seen signs of spent blooms. It's really root bound in it's container but I really, really dislike spiny, thorny plants and it seems happy enough so I haven't attempted to repot it. Any tips on how to get it to bloom; would it hurt to feed with a bloom booster fertilizer when I'm feeding the orchids? *Blush* I know nothing at all about desert cacti so any suggestions/tips for getting it to bloom are greatly appreciated!
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Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
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Baja_Costero
Jul 20, 2017 7:29 PM CST

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I have had the same plant for a few years and mine has never bloomed, but it's nowhere near the size of yours. It is supposed to be epiphytic/lithophytic (according to my handy cactus book) which tells you it probably doesn't need a very big pot. The distribution is tropical and not really deserts, which means the plant is probably a good fit for you in Florida (as if the photographic evidence were not sufficient). Smiling

My plants (they keep reincarnating themselves as I propagate cuttings) have been in 20% shade, though my neighbors have one on their SW-facing balcony and it seems to be doing great (but again no flowers). To the extent my other cacti bloom to greater or lesser degrees, my personal bias is to feed regularly but weakly, and I do like a relatively high P (P>N on the N-P-K) like 7-9-5 for the good blooms. For a while I was growing other plants in parallel in 6-2-2 and there was a difference that I could tell in the flowering, though the plants themselves seemed to be pretty similar.
[Last edited by Baja_Costero - Jul 20, 2017 7:32 PM (+)]
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Name: Thijs van Soest
Mesa, AZ (Zone 9b)
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mcvansoest
Jul 20, 2017 8:58 PM CST
I think a bloom booster fertilizer is worth a try. Once the plant becomes root bound fertilizing regularly is important if you are not going to repot it. Like Baja suggests, relatively weak dosage on a regular basis is a good way to go.

Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
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DaisyI
Jul 20, 2017 9:29 PM CST
I also have one that has never bloomed. I recently read that they hang over branches in trees in the jungle so I have been planning an experiment. I'll let you know how it goes.
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Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
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tarev
Jul 20, 2017 9:29 PM CST
Lin, your plant is so pretty! Lovey dubby

I don't have that plant, but with the couple of ones I have here that follows similar growth habit, I only get my blooms around early to mid Spring. No more blooms on my side once we start hitting 90F and higher.

They seem to enjoy experiencing the mid 50F's and lots of bright light, then shade in the afternoons. As Spring warm-up comes around, with the cool overnights and warm daytime in the mid to high 70F;s range, it triggers the bloom. At least that is how I see it. I am very bad with fertilizers, so I don't remember giving them any, but they do manage some blooms here.

Pretty much it is like the growing culture of Epiphyllums.
[Last edited by tarev - Jul 20, 2017 9:34 PM (+)]
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Name: Jai or Jack
WV (Zone 6b)
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Jai_Ganesha
Jul 21, 2017 12:40 AM CST
Yes, a few weeks before the blooms begin to form they need several weeks of cooler nights and a light application of bloom fertilizer.

I use an orchid fertilizer at half-strength and keep other species of ephiphtic cacti (not this one though) and they all benefit from cooler nights and bloom fertilizer but you have to experiment to time it right. If the nights are above the low 50s it will prevent blooms. But if they are in the 40s or lower it can cause freeze damage. To be such hardy plants, getting them to bloom is a delicate kind of exercise.
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Name: Sherri
Winter Springs, FL (Zone 9b)
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sunkissed
Jul 21, 2017 7:10 AM CST
@plantladylin , that sure is a nice specimen you have there Thumbs up . I did a quick Google and couldn't find a single photo of one blooming.
Name: Lin
Florida Zone 9b, 10a

Region: United States of America Deer Region: Florida Charter ATP Member Million Pollinator Garden Challenge I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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plantladylin
Jul 21, 2017 8:08 AM CST
Thanks so much for all the responses, much appreciated!

I'm pretty lax about remembering to feed my plants on a regular basis. *Blush* I have used orchid fertilizer for my Ric Rac Cactus which helped it produce beautiful blooms a couple of years ago and I've been trying to get a bit better at feeding but just never seem to stay the course with a regular routine. Sad

Our current overnight lows are in the upper 70'sF with daytime highs in the low 90'sF and very high humidity. It's going to be quite awhile before we have cool nights, maybe next spring this plant will show some pretty blooms ... I can only hope. I read somewhere that the blooms of the Dog Tail Cactus are white, nocturnal and fragrant so I look forward to hopefully seeing and smelling them at some point. The Ric Rac blooms are nocturnal and fragrant and at one time I grew Epiphyllum oxypetalum and E. hookeri (both nocturnal with fragrant white flowers) but I never detected much scent on either which shocked my husband.

I googled and found photos of a cactus said to be Strophocactus testudo, the one I'm inquiring about but from the little bit I can see of the stems, it don't look like the spiny cactus I have. You can click on the photo's to enlarge: http://botanic.tau.ac.il/?p=69...

Thanks again for the feedback; I'll keep y'all posted if I ever see blooms on this one!

Daisy, please post back about your experiment. With your Nevada climate being so much different than what we have here in Florida, I am really curious how this cactus does in your conditions!
~ Playing in the dirt is my therapy ... and I'm in therapy a lot! ~


Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
Always count your blessings in life
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tarev
Jul 21, 2017 12:06 PM CST
Lin at least you got better humidity levels than my area, and your plant loves it as seen on your photo. Same here, our cooler conditions is a long period away, ...too hot and crunchy dry here at this time, so I got to give a good spritz on all my epiphytic cacti to help them endure our super dry heat.
Name: Lin
Florida Zone 9b, 10a

Region: United States of America Deer Region: Florida Charter ATP Member Million Pollinator Garden Challenge I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
Garden Procrastinator Birds Butterflies Bee Lover Hummingbirder Container Gardener
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plantladylin
Jul 21, 2017 12:56 PM CST
We're hot here and extremely humid during the summer. Yesterday I glanced at the weather station thing that sits by the back door and it showed the outside temperature at 88.9ยบ with a humidity reading of 99%! The older I get, the high humidity really bothers me but I can't imagine such dry heat that some of the western part of the country experience! I've been seeing on the news about those awful wildfires and sending prayers for all affected. Summer is our rainy season and boy have we been getting rain the past couple of days ... wish I could send some of the rain and humidity to the west coast!
~ Playing in the dirt is my therapy ... and I'm in therapy a lot! ~


Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
Always count your blessings in life
Cat Lover Houseplants Plays in the sandbox Region: California Orchids Plant Lover: Loves 'em all!
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tarev
Jul 21, 2017 1:05 PM CST
too much heat, too much rain, too dry,...always a challenge either way Rolling my eyes.

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