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The White Christmas Cactus/ White May Flower at home. | by ER's Eyes - Our planet is beautiful.
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The White Christmas Cactus/ White May Flower at home.

S. Truncata Group 'Flor de Maio Alba'; note the very pointed teeth at the end of the segments, zygomorphic flowers held above the horizontal, and yellow pollen.



May flower: the cactus that offers beauty instead of thorns:


The May flower - common name of the species Schlumbergera truncata - is one of those plants that we tend to despise most of the year. It is, after all, a true botanical commonplace:

since the days of grandma's gardens, it has been hanging around on any balcony or housed in cachepots on some furniture in the living room. It is also a champion of popularity in floras - ready to be pushed by sellers every time the consumer searches for a plant “for beginners”.


This is all true, yes. But, as I was able to feel myself this week, the fact that it is party rice does not eliminate the extraordinary value and the pleasure of having a May flower inside the house. And pleasure is precisely in the miracle that works, out of nowhere, in your metabolism. During most of the year, the May flower is a discreet little thing, with its branches formed by fragile and evergreen buds releasing at most new buds. Suddenly, sometime between the end of autumn and the beginning of winter, behold that dull plant explodes in buttons with extremely striking shapes and colors - mine, for example, pump out between May and July.


After flowering, it often withers, loses part of the buds and spends the rest of the year trying to recover from the excruciating effort of flowering.



The May flower is from the cactus family, but has no thorns. In its original habitat, the Atlantic Forest, it presents an epiphyte behavior. In other words: like orchids and many bromeliads, it uses tree trunks as a support. Thanks to horticultural improvement, the variety of colors available on the market today is immense. You can splurge, as you can see in this photo that illustrates this post, the flower of May WHITE.


Despite the fact that the May flower is a peaceful and favorable cultivation plant, some precautions are mandatory to avoid unpleasantness. Here is a basic guide to success:


1) SOIL - As it is a succulent, the may flower requires perfect drainage. She does, however, enjoy a lot of organic matter. So, plant it in pots with holes, filled with pebbles and sand at the bottom and the remaining two thirds completed with vegetable soil. Curiosity: if these conditions are met, the May flower can grow a lot and live for years in small pots.


2) WATERING - Do not overdo it and do not leave dishes filled with water under the pot, to avoid waterlogging and root rot. But also be sure to water frequently - two to four times a week, depending on the weather. She likes the slightly damp earth.


3) LUZ - This is, perhaps, the main catch. The May flower hates receiving direct sunlight, but enjoys well-lit environments. The right places for her, therefore, are balconies and bright interiors, but fresh. Or under the treetops.


4) FLOWERING - The May flower releases its buds when two variables combine: the nights become longer and the minimum temperatures are close to 10-15 degrees. And so it lives up to its name: in the Southeast of Brazil, these ideal conditions are usually registered between mid-May and the end of June.


5) POST-FLOWERING STRESS - May flower is a perennial species, that is, it does not die after giving flowers. Often, however, it cannot withstand the thud of its metabolic explosion: after so much effort, the stem buds become wilted and break easily. In the extreme, the plant dies from stress. To avoid this, it is necessary to redouble the care with nutrition. After flowering, increase the watering slightly and add a little earthworm humus or phosphorus-rich fertilizer (the “P” of the renowned NPK trio).


Last tip: take advantage of the loose buds to produce new seedlings. It's very easy, just fix a piece of them in moist soil.

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Taken on October 30, 2020