Schlumbergera microsphaerica: Care and Propagation Guide
The Schlumbergera microsphaerica of the Schlumbergera genus. Native to Brazil, this cactus does not feature leaves but includes sectional stems branching off to form new green stems. These stems have lots of areoles and spines throughout their structure and also feature bristles.
The flowers of this cactus are pink-white in color, sometimes including white as well. These flowers usually bloom during the months of spring.
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How To Care For Schlumbergera microsphaerica
As we have already discussed, Schlumbergera microsphaerica is originally from the tropical and semi-tropical rainforests of Brazil. In nature, these epiphytic succulents grow on trees and rocks and they prefer the semi-shade as opposed to direct sunlight preferred by the cacti growing in the arid desert region. The ideal conditions for the growth of the Schlumbergera microsphaerica are a well-lit, humid area away from direct sunlight.
Since the Schlumbergera microsphaerica are more prevalent in tropical and semi-tropical forests, they require regular watering. It does best when the soil is moist and the air is humid and does not do well in completely dry soil. In fact, watering the Schlumbergera microsphaerica is quite tricky and it does not tolerate both overwatering as well as underwatering.
When watering the Schlumbergera microsphaerica, you must consider the climate, environment and time of the year. If the plant is kept outdoors and the climate is hot and dry, then you should water the Schlumbergera microsphaerica once in 2-3 days and place it in the shade.
If grown indoors, and the environment is humid and cool, then watering your Schlumbergera microsphaerica once a week is sufficient. During the fall and winter months, it is recommended to reduce the watering to stimulate blooming.
Overwatering the plant can cause fungal rot and the leaves will start falling off. To prevent this, yet ensure that the Schlumbergera microsphaerica plant gets sufficient moisture, mist the plant regularly using a spray bottle or place a tray close to the plant.
When you grow the Schlumbergera microsphaerica in a pot, it requires soil that drains well and well-aerated soil that lets the root breathe.
Heavy soil that retains plenty of water can cause the roots of the Schlumbergera microsphaerica to suffocate and prevent it from growing and flowering. It can also cause root rot and eventually cause the plant to die.
The best fertilizer for Schlumbergera microsphaerica is a blend of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium in equal quantities. A good water-soluble fertilizer with a 20-20-20 mix is the best choice and helps to make the roots and leaves strong.
Fertilize the Schlumbergera microsphaerica once every 2 to 4 weeks from April to October when the new leaves begin to appear. You can also use coffee grounds or compost to fertilize your Schlumbergera microsphaerica. But you must add only 1-2 tablespoons and spread it in a very thin layer and then add water to the pot.
When you’re not fertilizing the plant, then mix 1 tsp of Epsom salt with 1 gallon of water and use it to water the plant. This helps the plant to get the magnesium it requires and grow and flower properly. You can stop fertilizing, as well as watering the Schlumbergera microsphaerica after October when the plant goes into hibernation and this also encourages it to bloom.
Seed cultivation of the Schlumbergera microsphaerica is quite difficult and needs a lot of patience and effort. The seeds need to be extracted and since the plants cannot fertilize themselves, you will require more than a single plant to extract seeds that will germinate. Also, pollination will require animal help and if this is not available, you will need to do it.
Cultivation of the Schlumbergera microsphaerica using cuttings is much easier.
The Schlumbergera microsphaerica is very easy to care for and does quite well in average home conditions. While the plant does quite well in low-light conditions, it flowers only in bright, but indirect light. The perfect temperature for the Schlumbergera microsphaerica plant is between 60°F and 70°F. Plant the Schlumbergera microsphaerica in soil that is well-draining and make sure to apply fertilizer to it, especially in the summer and spring seasons.
Reduce the amount of fertilizer and water during the period when the plant is dormant i.e., during later fall and early winter for around 6 weeks to encourage flowering. The plant needs a lot of humidity and to start flowering, it needs long periods of darkness. The flowers of the Schlumbergera microsphaerica usually last for a few days, while the flowering period lasts for many weeks.
The Schlumbergera microsphaerica goes into hibernation usually at the end of the flowering season i.e., in fall or 6-8 weeks before the start of the next flowering season. During this time, the plant requires a cooler environment or around 50°F to 55°F, less light i.e., around 12 to 14 hours of darkness and less humidity.
The most common pest problems for the Schlumbergera microsphaerica are infestations caused by mealy bugs, aphids, spider mites, brown scale insects and fungus gnats.
Mealybugs are around 1/8th to 1/4th of an inch and look like small white dots. As the mealybugs grow bigger, the cottony, white area spreads on the plant. Mealybug infestation causes distorted or stunted growth of the Schlumbergera microsphaerica plant.
Aphids and Soft Brown Scale Insects
Commonly light green, aphids are 1/16th to 1/8th inch long, pear-shaped insects that can also be brown, pink, yellow or black. Aphids remove the sap from the plant, causing the leaves to turn yellow or distorted growth. Soft brown scale insects cause the leaves to wilt and prevent the plants from growing properly because they absorb the sap from the leaves.
Aphids and soft brown scale insects can be scraped off or removed by hand from the Schlumbergera microsphaerica plant at the start of the infestation.
Fungus Gnats and Spider Mites
Typically invisible to the eye, spider mites usually cause infestations in indoor Schlumbergera microsphaerica plants rather than when they are grown outdoors. The symptom of spider mites is a pale-colored, silken web on the leaves. Fungus gnats consume the fungi that are present in the potting soil. A spider mite or fungus gnat infestation causes the leaves of the plant to look unhealthy and also loss of leaves.
Using insecticidal soap can help to control aphid, mealybug and spider mite infestation. You can also remove the pests by using a cotton ball soaked in alcohol. You can dislodge spider mites, aphids and soft brown scale insects with a spray of water. If the potting soil is infested with fungus gnats, then you must change the soil.
You can use chemical methods such as insecticides containing permethrin, acetamiprid, pyrethrins, cyfluthrin or imidacloprid to control the pests and if the infestation is too heavy, then you may have to discard your Schlumbergera microsphaerica plant.
How To Propagate Schlumbergera microsphaerica
Propagating the Schlumbergera microsphaerica using cuttings is extremely simple. Firstly, from the tip of the stem of the Schlumbergera microsphaerica plant, take a Y-shaped cutting. To ensure that the cutting is healthy, take one of 2 or 3 joint segments. Allow the cuttings to rest and dry for a few hours. This will prevent root rot due to excess moisture.
Place the cuttings in a pot when they’re dry that has soil that drains well i.e., a mix of cacti and succulent soil. Push the cutting into the soil so that it is around ½-inch deep or just upright. Avoid pushing the cutting too much into the soil as they will rot.
Place the potted cuttings in an area that is well lit but away from direct sunlight. Water the cuttings very sparingly or mist them until they have adjusted to the new environment, which you can see when there is fresh leaf growth at the tips. Typically, the cuttings can take around 3-12 weeks to develop roots.