How To Propagate And Plant Christmas Cacti

Christmas cacti are succulent plants with white or pink flowers. They have been grown commercially since the early 1900’s and are now available at most garden centers. Most people do not realize that there is another type of Christmas cactus called the “watermelon” cactus. These are small, round, greenish-yellow flowers that resemble watermelons. There are many varieties of these plants, but they all look very similar.

The watermelon cacti (Hydrangea spp.) produce little leaves that turn yellow when mature. Watermelons are also known as water lilies because their flowers have a resemblance to tiny lily pads. Some people believe that the name “watermelon” comes from the fact that some of them actually taste like one!

Water melon cacti are often sold as houseplants, but they don’t make good indoor plants. If you want to plant a watermelon cactus indoors, try growing them outdoors where they will get plenty of sunlight and air circulation. You can even place them in a sunny window if possible. They love bright light and warm temperatures so keep your room cool and dark during winter months.

Much like other succulents, watermelon cacti can be propagated by separating a leaf from the stem (leaf propagation). Each leaf produces its own root system so you will end up with two plants. They can also be grown from stem cuttings (which explains the “Christmas cactus” name). If the stems are green and firm, they can be placed in a glass of water. Within a few weeks, new roots will appear at the cut end of the stem.

After they grow large enough, the stem will produce a flower. At this time, it can be planted in soil and cared for like any other houseplant.

As with most plants, watermelon cacti need soil that drains well. These plants can survive in gravel so they are well suited for someone who wants to grow them in a decorative bowl or pot. Just remember to add gravel or small stones to the bottom of your container before you add the soil (sand or humus work best) and don’t over-water. You may even want to place a saucer under the bowl to catch any excess water.

When caring for your watermelon cactus, remember that these are succulent plants so they can suffer from “old man’s disease.” This is a buildup of salts in the soil that prevents water from evaporating from its leaves. Your plants will show symptoms of this by looking a little sick (wilting, yellowing) and you should flush out the soil in the pot by watering thoroughly.

Watermelons need lots of water when they are first planted but after that, water them only when the soil is dry. The best way to tell if your plant needs water is by checking the weight of the container. If it feels light, it doesn’t need water. If it feels heavy, give it a thorough watering and then wait until it feels light again.

If you like, you can fertilize your watermelon cacti when they are in the growth stage (flower buds appear) using a very dilute solution. Use a fertilizer that contains potassium.

Inspect your plant carefully for any signs of insects or disease and remove any you see with a strong stream of water. Watermelons are prone to mealy bugs and other tiny insects so make sure you quarantine any new plants before adding them to your collection.

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If you choose to grow your watermelon cacti outdoors, plant them in a sunny location that gets 6 or more hours of direct sunlight each day. This can either be in your own backyard or if you live in an apartment, on the patio. You can also grow them in large containers and place them on the patio. Just remember to bring them indoors before the first frost.

If you do not have room outdoors, you can grow your watermelons in a sunny window. Keep the soil moist and place the pot in a shallow pan filled with marbles. This will protect the roots from sudden changes in temperature if you have to leave the windows open for ventilation. It should be fine outdoors as long as it doesn’t freeze. If it starts to get cold, bring it inside until spring.

Your watermelon cacti will grow best if the temperature remains between 65 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. During the day, their roots should not be in contact with cold soil. If you are growing them outdoors, the roots should not be in contact with the ground at all.

Watermelons do best in dry soil so make sure you never waterlog them. If your plant starts to wilt, it needs water right away. Likewise, watermelons should be able to rid themselves of excess water so make sure their containers have ample drainage. You can even grow them in large, shallow containers filled with gravel or stones instead of soil.

You may notice that your container has started to wear away. This is perfectly natural for a watermelon plant and you can simply replace the pot with a new, larger one every few years.

Also, because watermelons require a lot of sunshine, they will naturally grow toward the sun. Eventually, your plant will start to lean and this is okay too. You can prop it up using sticks and stones or you can let it lean and build a trellis for it to grow on. This will allow it to grow toward the sun more easily.

Watermelons grow on vines and need plenty of space to roam. If you live in an apartment or other location where you do not have access to enough space, you can train your plant to grow up a trellis. You may also do this if you would simply like your plant to grow upward rather than outward.

You will need to place something sturdy against a wall or something similar then twine string or strips of cloth between this and the plant. The strings or cloths should then be tightly tied to the plant to train it to grow upward.

In winter, watermelons like to rest. The leaves will start to turn a dull green and the plant itself will slow down. It may even stop growing altogether. This is completely normal so do not worry. Just make sure that the plant does not experience any cold and that it continues to get plenty of sunshine and water.

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Watermelons are one of the easiest plants to grow so do not worry if you have not had much experience as a gardener. You will be able to grow your own delicious watermelon in no time at all!

About Watermelons

Watermelons (Citrullus lanatus) are members of the gourd family and are related to squash, cucumbers and pumpkins. Native to Africa, they have been known to archaeologists as far back as 30,000 years and have been found preserved in the stomachs of frozen mammoths in Siberia.

They were then carried to Europe by the Greeks and on to America with European settlers. The name “watermelon” comes from the variety of fruit with white flesh known as “White Meat”.

The watermelon is said to be 95% water which makes it a valuable resource in hot climates where dehydration can occur. It is eaten raw or used in cooking and was once considered an appropriate gift for a king.

Watermelons were enjoyed by Egyptians, Greeks and Romans. They were so highly thought of by the Romans that they would name their boards after them.

In medieval Europe, it was common to depict the watermelon as a symbol for summer because of its juicy red flesh.

Watermelons contain such vitamins and minerals as: thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, pantothenic acid, phosphorus, magnesium and potassium.

Watermelons also contain an amino acid called citrulline which can help the body get rid of ammonia. Ammonia can bind to the tissue of the brain and nervous system and is a byproduct of protein metabolism. It can cause fatigue and lack of focus. Watermelons can help to alleviate this problem.

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Watermelons are very good for you!

Because we have been eating them for so long, humans have not developed any natural defenses to the fruit’s toxins. While the watermelon has some natural defenses to bug infestation (such as a thick, tough skin), it is fairly susceptible to rot. For this reason it grows where it can be watered well and harvested when ripe.

Watermelons can grow quite big. In fact, there is a world record for the heaviest watermelon, which weighed in at 272 pounds.

Sources & references used in this article:

7 Media for Cutting Propagation by BC Wolverton – 2020 – Spring

Occupational type I allergy to Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera) by PS Holloway – Plant Propagation Concepts and Laboratory …, 2008 – books.google.com

G74-187 Care of Cactus in the Home by E Paulsen, PS Skov, C Bindslev‐Jensen, V Voitenko… – Allergy, 1997 – Wiley Online Library

CALLOGENESIS, EMBRYOGENESIS AND ORGANOGENESIS IN CHRISTMAS CACTUS {SCHLUMBERGERA BRIDESI) AAMIR ALI, SHAGUFTA NAZ … by DT Lindgren – 1974 – digitalcommons.unl.edu

PLANT EXCHANGE by A ALI, S NAZ – pakbs.org

Coral Honeysuckle Easy to Propagate with Cuttings by BK JOHNSON – 1992 – tearsheets.yankton.net

Plant growth factors. Light by WJ Hayden – Bulletin of the Virginia Native Plant Society, 2014 – scholarship.richmond.edu

G77-337 Propagating House Plants by D Whiting, M Roll, L Vickerman – Gardening series. Colorado …, 2003 – mountainscholar.org

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