Christmas Flower

26 Jan, '07

Christmas Flower

Christmas Flower, originally uploaded by malyousif.

Our Christmas Cactus is late in flowering this year, it normally starts the buds in late November and flowers almost exactly on Christmas day (hence the name) but this year it has just started flowering.

This time however the flowers are breathtaking and better than at any time in the past. They are truly gorgeous and seeing them live is infinitely better than a picture, but this one will do for now.

I hope your day is just as beautiful, peaceful and pink as this flower, my friends.

Have a wonderful Friday.

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Comments (20)

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  1. bint al saud says:

    gorgeous! i too grow this plant – i have it in hanging basket

    lovely photo

  2. mahmood says:

    Ah, then I wish YOU happiness and enjoyment of the long lasting blooms when they do flower! You will understand my awe of this very unassuming plant more than most.

  3. Barry says:

    Ahh cactus. To me, they can rival the flowers of orchids! My favorite is Trichocereus pachanoi as the flowers are so big. I’ve got several cuttings I’m hoping are simply establishing themselves rather than just sitting there doing nothing.

    I have a few other succulents. But of my cactuses my favorite is my Pereskia grandiflora. It didn’t do very well as the original plant, so I cut it into two cuttings and left the original plant in its pot. All three plants are starting to put on growth and actuall branch. The most interesting thing about Pereskia is that they have leaves and thin stems. They have the aureoles of your typical cactus and the spines, but their flowers are unmistakably cactus in form, and they have succulent leaves. I’ve read that these represent the ancestor of all cactuse and what they looked like before most gave up leaves for a life of stem succulency:

  4. M says:

    My christmas catcus belonged to my mother and has been around since I was a kid. I just love it and hope to pass it along to my brats. Have a wonderful Friday.

  5. mahmood says:

    Barry that is a lovely plant. I’ve not seen in it Bahrain yet but will certainly keep an eye out for it.

    My project for February is making a cactus garden; I have an area at the back where nothing else seem to want to grow. It’s the coldest and windiest place in the garden. The frangipani is doing okay there, and as we put the bird feed there, the parrots scatter the sunflower seeds on the ground and we get quite a few haphazard sunflowers growing!

    I’m going to remove about everything from there and make a design to put various cactii in there.

    Here’s what the patch looks like at the moment (the ground is covered in bark):


    I’m thinking of remove the foreground plants, the henna will be repositioned somewhere else in the garden, I will make a hill about 50cm – 100cm high and put big rocks in a haphazzardish arrangement and then I will plant cactii and grass (cypres and others) in and around the mound as well. I think I want it to be a semi-kidney shape, but when the sand and rocks and plants become available, I will ask them how they want things done as well.

    Should be a fun project!

  6. mahmood says:

    M: we have 3 pots with this cactus at the moment, and they all started from a single little cutting Frances brought back with her from Scotland, if my memory serves me right. She is the one who propagated and took care of it for years (our agreement is that she takes care and has complete control of our indoors!) All I do is enjoy it and take pictures of it when it flowers!

    I guess I would be happy too to give a lot of my gardening efforts onward to the kids when they leave home. I am sure they will get the same pleasure we have had in growing them.

  7. M says:


    Now that you mention cuttings, I remember my mom saying she got her plant from cuttings from her mother’s plant. Could that be so? Suppose these things live for a century? Darn it will drive me crazy until I find out.

    Good luck on your garden. Are you going to have any chicken and hen plants. I have to stop myself from buying some every time I see them. I remember watching the chicken and hens plant when I was little thinking they were the neatest things with the “babies” as my mother called them rolling off and starting new plants. Suppose they are not even a catcus; great something else to drive me crazy.

  8. mahmood says:

    never heard of this and it’s intriguing indeed!

  9. mahmood says:

    I’ve just been corrected. The Christmas Cactii we have were bought in Bahrain; both apparently from Jawad’s (a local supermarket) one was 5 or 6 years ago and the other only 2 years ago. The cuttings Frances brought from Scotland did not take.

  10. M says:

    Well your plant is alittle different than mine with wider leaves and a little different blossom; I have seen this kind in the stores more so than the narrow longer stems that I have. Both have wonderful blossoms. Kind of exciting after watching this green lump sit there all year.

    I’ll see what I can find on the chicken and hens to find out what it’s botanical name is. It used to be a pretty common perennial here in everyone’s gardens or rock walls in New England when I was growing up, but it’s not around that much any more.

  11. milter says:

    I wonder if christmas cactae have a common sense of when it’t time to flower?

    Ours is flowering right now, about 6weeks later than normal and only on one side.

  12. M says:

    Hi Milter,

    From my travel around the net today to see how long christmas cactus can live, it seems they start new leaf buds in September. If they get 12 hours of darkness after the new buds appear, then they should blossom at Christmas. If not, then maybe later.


    Chicken and hens are Echeveria or houseleeks; suppose to be fairly common in Europe and the Middle East. I’m going to get some this summer just because. Suppose it’s like snowbanks being 25 feet tall when you are a kid when in reality they are only 6 feet tall. :cwy:

  13. M says:

    Make that 12 hours of darkness each night.

  14. docspencer says:

    This is a particularly nice one Mahmood. We had one now for 15 years. The flower is a bit lighter color than yours Mahmoud. It flowers during the second half of November. Does anyone know why that is? Most here tend to flower during second half of December.

    There is a row of bushes next to the parking lot of your Grand Mosque. It has a very nice smell. There were no flowers on it, nor buds that I saw in March.

    Does anyone know what these bushes are? I would like to find out if they are available in the US.

    Thanks and best regards,


  15. Barry says:

    Mahmood: There is a cactus garden at the old Customs House in Monterey. It’s small, but has a few rather neat cactuses, uncluding some tall columnar cactus. Not a cactus, but related is the winter flowering Aloe arborescens, which grow just meters from the sea here, and put on a grand show every winter. I took this picture a year ago:

    The tree behind it is one of the willows native here (probably the arroyo willow, Salix lasiolepis, which is somewhat salt tolerant as you can see). Our most common neglected cactuses are the Opuntias, which often are tossed to the side of the road by people picking them for Nopales (the Mexican name for the stems). I’ve seen whole thickets in the middle of nowhere.

    Of the cactus type plants, Agaves and Yuccas are the most common. We even have a native Yucca which grows in drier country called “Our Lord’s Candle”, Yucca whipplei (although, moved over to its own genus Hesperoyucca). They look a lot like big cotton swabs from a distance:

    That one is growing just south of here in the Big Sur region.

    If you end up growing Opuntia, the most common and probably useful is Opuntia ficus-indica, which is grown for its useful stems and fruits (called “tuna” in Mexico). The fruits are rather sweet (although sometimes they can be rather bland and watery). I remember in Mexico that at the corner near the hostel we stayed at, there was a woman who would peel Opuntia stems for use as nopales.

  16. mahmood says:

    Hey, I’ve got two of the Opuntia ficus-indicas growing at the font gate, and last year I got some prickly-pears off them too, but was too much of a coward to eat them (did taste them though and I didn’t die!)

    And my garden is overflowing with Aloes, so much so that I’ve had to cull a lot of the babies and even planted quite a few outside the house, joined by hundreds of Agaves I got from that single plant that flowered last year.

    The Agave

    My aloes veras though are not as the ones in your picture, they’re more like this – which the bulbuls love as they hang on the stem to suck the juices out, quite a sight to see!

    Aloe Vera flowers

    Cactii are fun, they don’t require that much attention but when you take care of them they really reward you with their colours, shapes, textures and eventually fantastic floral displays.

    I’ve been looking for ideas for my “cactus garden” and I would love to get something like this going!

    Jardin Exotique de Monaco

    Having something like this in a few years would make me really really happy!

  17. Barry says:

    Wow, that’s a gorgeous cactus garden!

    As for your O. ficus-indica, you really should try the fruit. Make sure you wear heavy leather cloves and if the fruits don’t come off, a good pair of secateurs (bypass cutters), or a good, sturdy, sharp knife can take them off. The only thing to be really careful of with opuntias except for the spines are the small glochids covering the areolae. The Glochids are like fine fiberglass particles and can cause a really nasty itch if you’re not careful. You can get them off easy with a vegetable peeler (most have a potato eye remover at the tip). After you’ve prepped the fruits then you just split them in half and scoop out the flesh. I’m sure your various birds have either gotten to them, or would love them as well.

    Our problem with Cactus here is that most come from summer rain areas, with just a few getting winter rain. They live if we grow them in pure sand (like my property hs), but you have to make sure they don’t stay damp or wet at the roots in cool weather, because the roots can rot. Opuntias seem to be rather adaptable, though. One of the funny things people here do is to plant yuccas and agaves in the planting strips between the sidewalks and the street. I remember as a kid that the house at the corner had (and still has) one growing with rather pretty blue green leaves which bend in the middle and don’t look as harsh, but still have nasty stout and sharp leaftips. Whenever we’d ride down the hill on our bikes on the sidewalk, it was like running the gauntlet everytime you rode past it.

    So, most people end up hacking up the plants to take the spines off (if they were being careful they’d only take the sharp tips, not half of the leaves).

    With aloes, I’m more into the shrubby or tree-like plants. I’d love to have A. dichotoma. I’ve got A. plicatilis, the fan aloe, but our recent cold temperatures have really killed the leaves. I’m hoping it recovers!

  18. rose says:


  19. mahmood says:

    Hi Rose, good luck with them. I don’t have any experience in growing things in the cold. Both of our plants live indoors, with one about 2 meters away from an East facing window, so it does get the sun in the morning and it bloomed earlier than the bigger one put further away from direct light.

    Do read about them if you could, it’s a shame to lose them as once they bloom there is nothing like them!

  20. debbie barker says:

    I am trying to find a catcus that the leaves look like the christmas catcus but it is a hanging catcus and has brillant orange blossoms sthat look like dolphins swimming. It is the most beautiful plant I have ever seen and I dearly would love to get my hands on one. Could you please give me some info on this plant and any help in finding one. Thank you

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