Recycling Holiday Wrapping Paper & Zygocactus Blooming Period

Question:

Why is holiday or gift wrapping not recyclable? After all, it is paper. I hoped to shred it and then use it as mulch this summer. 

Answer:

  • While some might disagree, I think it has merit as mulch when shredded and combined with other materials. From a recycling point of view, today's wrapping paper is often dyed, laminated, and contains non-paper additives such as glitter, plastics, etc., which cannot be recycled and made into other products.
  • However, much of the wrappings can be composted. You must avoid high gloss paper and paper with plastic or metallic coatings, sequins, foil, artificial texture, and sticky gift labels. Tissue paper is an ideal item to be composted.
  • I know many people believe it's not safe to compost colored paper, but experts agree the inks used today are quite safe. Most modern inks are soy ink. So much of the holiday debris can be saved, shredded, and use as mulch next year. 

Question:

I have two Christmas Cactus or Zygocactus plants sitting side by side in front of a window that gets morning sun. One blooms faithfully every Christmas, while the other never does. Instead, it blooms in the spring. What do I need to do to get them both to bloom at Christmas? Also, will placing it in a dark location before Christmas help?

Answer:

  •  It's unnecessary to place Christmas Cactus in a dark location for flowering like you would a poinsettia. You induce the formation of flower buds by reducing the water by fifty percent and the temperature by moving the plant(s) to the coldest room you have in October or early November.
    • Once the buds are visible, you return the plant(s) to the window and resume the regular watering schedule. But I don't believe this will solve your problem as the non-blooming plant may not be a true Christmas Cactus but instead a spring flowering variety. They both have bright red flowers. For years, Thanksgiving and Christmas Cactus have been referred to as Zygocactus and the spring blooming or Easter variety as Schlumbergera. Some time ago, the people that classified plants botanically changed their names.
    • However, the plant label makers have not caught up with the changes; hence, there is a lot of confusion about what is what. To be absolutely correct, Zygocactus are actually Schlumbergera, and Schlumbergera is now Rhipaliodopsis.
      • The word "Zygocactus" merely describes how the joints are connected and have no taxonomical importance. There is another significant difference between the species. The Thanksgiving and Christmas varieties bloom with short days and long nights, while spring varieties need longer days and shorter nights to flower.
      • Schlumbergera truncatus blooms closer to Thanksgiving, while Schlumbergera bridgesii is the Christmas Cactus. It gets very confusing. I suggest purchasing a new Christmas Cactus next year and enjoying that other one whenever it blooms. There is nothing you can do to change the blooming pattern of the plants you have.