Tag Archives: thanksgiving cactus

Office plants: Highs and lows of 2018

And just like that, we are well into 2019!

Usually when I come back to work after the holidays, some plants have died off but this year every single one survived! Perhaps it’s because I took a shorter break.

The year went by so quickly, I thought it would be fun to look back at some of the highs and lows of my plant adventures in 2018. First, the office.



I snatched this baby up from the kitchen, on a table where people put things they dont want. I didn’t think much of it at first, but I’ve grown to love it! It was fun watching it grow a new branch over the past year.

It started with two branches

One day, I noticed this little guy poking out of the middle of the stem

It grew..

And grew…

Until it became a giant branch! Amazing!

Thanksgiving cactus

I finally learned how to care for these guys: soak them about once a month for about 15 to 20 minutes. Squeeze the leaves and if they feel thick, they’re OK. If they feel thin, they need a soak.

I kept the cactus I bought last year in the same container hoping it would bloom again but it didn’t, so I bought another one with buds. Only one bloomed, but what a beauty!

Peperomia obtusifolia

I’ve bought these red tinged peperomia in the past but couldn’t keep them alive. This year I managed to keep them all alive (I have 3 or 4 plants). One even bloomed!

Yep, that little green finger pointing to the right is a bloom!


Ponytail palm

This beautiful specimen came to me late last fall from a friend at work. Had to put it in the kitchen because my office had no space.

Looks like a Muppet from Sesame Street. All she’s missing is googly eyes!

Some weeks later, I noticed there were silver streaks and black spots all over the leaves. We moved it to an office window when someone agreed to take it. I thought the black spots were frass and then I discovered they were moving! A Facebook group confirmed I had thrips.

Thrips suck the juices out of leaves

Spraying the leaves with soapy water was helping but I got to it too late.

Had to chop all the tops off, it was so infested that the leaves fell out when I tried to clean them off. I’m not sure if it will grow back.

We think that the transition from a home with lots of natural light, watering and fertilizer to an office kitchen with little light and much less watering (once a month, especially with the winter coming around) may have been too much of a shock, leaving it vulnerable to pests.

Fiddle leaf fig

Absolutely failed to keep not one, but two of these guys alive. Such a costly shame.

It was looking pretty good when I bought it, with leaves tight to the stem

And then the leaves started bowing out.

They had brown spots and were dropping off

This all that’s left. Not sure if it will grow back in the spring

Peperomia prostrata

I would guess over-watering lead to the demise of both of the plants I bought but I can’t be sure. One was meant for a friend. Should’ve gotten it to her sooner.

Look at how beautiful this was!!!

I am ashamed to see the difference. Gutted!

Best new find

ZZ plant

I absolutely love this plant! It’s so easy to care for. It’s even doing well at home where it gets much less light.

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The smallest branch at the back is unfurling and there’s a new branch growing at the front!


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Rooted thanksgiving cactus makes new baby!!!

I know I’m probably speaking too soon, but I feel as though I’ve finally mastered the thanksgiving cactus.

Since learning that soaking once a month, at least during the summer months, will keep the leaves nice a plump, I’ve been feeling pretty confident about my ability to care for them. I took two leaves with roots from my plant and planted them, and one is starting to make a new leaf!

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I’m so excited to see this new leaf growing!

It shares a small pot with a desert rose seedling. I’ve been spraying the cactus with water every week day and watering the desert rose once a week, so the cactus does get water too. I was worried about the leaf rotting if I watered it, even though it had roots. I remember reading that it’s OK to start watering when a new leaf starts to form so I guess there’s no need to worry anymore.


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Soaking… good for plants too!

You know how it feels rejuvenating to soak your cares away in a tub after a long day? Well, plants benefit from soaking too (not in hot water, of course)!

Remember how I keep killing Thanksgiving cacti? Well, no more! I’ve found the magic touch thanks to Tiny Flower shop owner Helen Yang.  On one of my many visits, I was telling her about how I keep killing peace lilies (yeah, them too) and she suggested that I try soaking the plant’s root ball when it starts looking droopy.  So I decided to try it with my cacti, which were on death’s door.

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Clearly I’ve had trouble balancing the desire not to over-water and keeping these plants adequately hydrated

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Look at how plump these leaves are after soaking in lukewarm water for about 15 minutes!

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Quite a few of the leaves have started making roots, a sure sign of health! I wonder if I should try making new plants soon?

I soaked several plants at work two weeks ago (the ones that could fit in my bucket) and so far they are looking pretty healthy.

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I think this may be the first time I’ve had a peace lily flower and stay a live in my care! I think I’ve had this flower for over a week.



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If at first you don’t succeed…

I don’t know what it is about this plant! So far, I have not had success with keeping a thanksgiving cactus (schlumbergera) alive, although people say it’s really easy to care for and to propagate.

The one I picked up from a colleague who was leaving died this year. I only water my office plants every two weeks. It was rotting at the bottom which made me think wet roots, but that didn’t fit with how often I was watering and the fact that it was in a clay pot, which dries out the soil faster than other pots.

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I really thought that after I nearly killed it by forgetting it in a dark cupboard that it wouldn’t make it, but it started to come back to life until it recently rotted at the base.

I bought a new plant a few weeks ago. Fresh soil, clean clay pot, watering when the soil is dry… and I’ve lost a bunch of leaves already.

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The bottom segment of the plant was rotted. Perhaps there wasn’t good air circulation down there and it stayed wet.

This article has some really good information on care, how to produce blooms, and common issues which will definitely come in handy.

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I’ve tried sticking the leaves into the soil as shown here or laying them on top of the soil — techniques that people have said work — and spritzing the soil so it stays moist, but none of them have managed to take root. They’ve all shriveled up and died.

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Decided to try again. This time I put plastic over the top of this pot to create a humid environment. Hopefully this will promote root development. 

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Office oasis

Last year I started cultivating a garden oasis in my workspace, in order to make the environment more welcoming and relaxing. Thankfully the woman who shares my office space likes plants so she lets me bring plants into her work area (the window is behind her desk).

It started with me picking up some ficus elastica (rubber plant) cuttings from the office kitchen. I walked in one morning, and asked excitedly, “what is this?!” as I stared at some cuttings in a vase. The HR person said it was a cutting from a plant in the president’s office. I exclaimed that it was beautiful and she said, “you can have it if you want.” I didn’t need to be told twice, I took it back to my office right away (score!). I ended up giving a cutting to a friend as a housewarming present (she loved it!) and the other to my aunt.

I hope it does well.

I hope it does well. Love this rubber plant!

Later in the year I picked up some other plants from outgoing colleagues. And picked up a money tree plant in a nearby convenience store (I’ve been coveting another colleague’s money tree for almost two years!).

5 aloe plants and one money tree

5 aloe plants and one money tree (pachira aquatica).

Tricolor rhoeo and thanksgiving cactus

Tricolor rhoeo and thanksgiving cactus. A colleague noticed that the tricolor rhoeo’s leaves are only purple on the back of the leaves (neat!).

Thanksgiving cactus leaves

Thanksgiving cactus leaves (here) are sharper than a Christmas cactus.

Wish I’d read myth #3 before I’d put my cactus away from the window. I had read that you need to give it more darkness in order for it to produce blooms. So I took it away from the window. Obviously I misunderstood the instructions and in the end I did some serious damage. After several weeks of being deprived of the light it needed to thrive, the poor plant is looking pretty sickly.

The leaves are paper thin and have started dropping off

The leaves are paper thin and have started dropping off


Diseased-looking leaves

I really liked this plant. Not at first (at first I thought it was ugly, no wonder it was left behind), but then it started to grow on me. I’m hoping now that it’s back by the window that it might start to perk up again.

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