Thanksgiving cactuses and Christmas cactuses have been hybridized with each other to the point that we now group today’s varieties together under the catchall name holiday cactus. They bloom from November through January.

If your holiday cactus begins to drop buds when you bring it home, there is little you can do, says LSU AgCenter horticulturist Allen Owings.

“These plants resent being moved at all while blooming — much less being packaged, shipped, unwrapped, displayed, purchased and taken home,” Owings says. But many blooms and buds will hold on, and their great beauty in shades of magenta, red, pink, orange, gold or white make their purchase worth it.

But don’t throw out the plants when they finish blooming, The holiday cactus will reward you with blooms every year for many years if grown correctly.

After all the flowers have dropped off, allow the soil to become fairly dry before watering and keep the plant in a bright, sunny window, Owings says. This is a beautiful and easily grown houseplant with flattened, jointed stems that arch over attractively.

An east or west window will provide plenty of light. It also will thrive on a porch or patio in semi-shade during summer.

You asked

In anticipation of a freeze, I picked most of our satsumas. But then a coworker told me I should have left them on the tree because a freeze makes them sweeter. I had heard that about persimmons but not about citrus. Leave or pick? Mary Ann

There was likely no need to strip the fruit from your satsuma tree. Most areas of south Louisiana have not gotten cold enough to damage fruit. Temperatures in the 30s can enhance the color of citrus fruit, and satsumas that still have green on the rind will often turn completely orange when nights in the 30s occur. But this does not enhance sweetness, just color.

Temperatures below freezing do not enhance the flavor of the fruit in any way. And if it is cold enough long enough, freezing temperatures can damage or ruin the fruit. So the idea that temperatures below freezing are actually good for the fruit and increase the quality is simply not true. If someone believing this left citrus fruit on the tree during a freeze cold enough to ruin them, it would be a shame. — AgCenter horticulturist Dan Gill

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