What to Plant in November

The following is a list of vegetables and herbs you can plant in November in Sydney, a temperate zone. Just click on the name for the growing guide for each vegetable or herb:

Plant of the Month – The Spectacular Disocactus-(orchid cactus)

Disocactus commonly known as Orchid cacti, are hybrids which are widely grown for their spectacular large and brillantly coloured flowers. The species is placed within the group of cacti in the tribe Hylocereeae. Many were once placed within the Epiphyllum group but have now been reclassified.

This group mainly involve Disocactus species instead of Epiphyllum species.

In their natural state they grow as epiphytes, climbing the trees in the tropical moist forests, cloud forests and oak forests of Cental and South America. Some also grow on rocks and in rock crevices as lithophytes.

Disocactus plants can grow up to 80cm in height to a width of 1m over 8 years till they reach maturity.

The stems of the plant can be long and flattened. Some have three sided shape. These stems begin as rounded growths then flatten into long, arching notched stems 60 cm to 3m long and up to 7.5cm wide. The image below shows the two types of shape. At the notched margins the plant can produce aerial roots. Secondary stems can grow from the the areolas at the notches as seen in the image below.

The emerging round stems can be seen as well as the flat and three sided stems.

The stunning blooms are 10 to 20cm in size and even up to 35 cm in width. They emerge from the areolas at the notches in the margins of the stems.

The outer tepals and the inner tepals form a funnel like flower.

Flowers blooming on a plant

The flowers have a green throat and white style and many white stamens which carry the pollen bearing anthers on their tips.

This bright red bloom is of the Disocactus × jenkinsonii and is a hybrid between Disocactus phyllanthoides and Disocactus speciosus. It is perhaps the most commonly grown orchid cactus and can to survive and flower under most conditions.

The image below gives some detail of the emerging blooms

When the flower has bloomed and is pollinated a fruit will form as shown in the image below.

This large pot shown below has two varieties of disocatus growing together. The scarlet Disocactus x jenkinsonii and the white Disocactus crenatus bloom from October to December. The flowers bloom at night and last a few days before wilting and are lightly fragrant.

The white Disocactus crenatus is also growing well in the large pot. The word crenatus comes from the word crenations or wavy-tooth to denote the scalloped margin of the stems of the plant.

The Disocactus crenatus has a delicately scented white flower and has been used in cross-pollinating with species of other genera to develop many beautiful cultivars.  It is one of the most important parents in creating the commonly cultivated throughout the world. 

The flowers are up to 18–29 cm long and 15–20 cm wide.

Though nocturnal, Disocactus crenatus may remain open for several days, unlike the Queen of the Night that only blooms over one night, and is quite fragrant.

The outer tepals are 10–12 cm long, green yellow to tawny yellow or red amber. The outermost tepals sometimes have red or streaked margins. The inner tepals are as long as outer tepals and white, creamy white or greenish yellow.

The flower like other Disocactus is funnel shaped with a green throat.

The filaments bearing the pollen carrying anthers are shorter than the tepals and 5-7cm long. The style is 15-20cm long with 9-10 papillose lobes of the star-like stigma at the top.

Click onto images for further detail.

Cultivation of Disocactus:

The Disocactus is a fast growing and long lived plant that prefers partial shade and flowers profusely in the spring.

The preferred growing temperature is between 12 and 45

Soil:

Because of their epiphytic nature, grow them in rich, acid well-drained soil mix, largely made up of organic material, such as would normally be used for orchids, bromeliads or other epiphytic plants. Drainage and aeration are very important as the plants can be damaged by water retention.

The growing medium should allow rapid drainage of water and be open, with at least one third of coarse material to prevent compaction

Location and Light:

In the wild, Disocactus grow in tropical or semi-tropical forests in dappled light and warm, humid conditions. For the best results try to recreate this in your location for the plants. They should be protected from direct sunlight, with preferably 75% shading at midday and be protected from frost.

Brief early morning sun, especially in the dormant winter period will stimulated flower growth but always beware of scorching the stems which can happen.

While Disocactus grows best in dry, tropical or subtropical climates, the images above were taken in Melbourne. The pot is in a protected location between the radiant heat of the east facing brick wall of the house and the protection of the adjoining fence. The plants have been growing and flowering very well for years left to their own devices and only sometimes pruned back.

This shows that the Disocactus can perform really well even in cooler climates with the right location.

Water:

Disocatus should be kept moist but not soggy during the growing period and summer but allowed to dry out during the dormant winter period. In fact, flowering can be stimulated by withholding water and giving the plants a dry resting period of about two months during their winter dormancy period.

Allow the top third of the medium to dry out between watering in the growing period.

Propagation:

Propagate Disocatus from cuttings. Rooting hormone can be applied to the base of the cutting before it is allowed to dry for ten days or more so that the cut forms a callus.

The cutting is placed over moist Cactus and Succulent potting mix with add ed perlite in a small, shallow pot. Set it in a brightly lit but dappled, warm location.

Then plant the bottom third of the cutting into the growing medium.

Do not water for a fortnight keeping the growing medium kept slightly moist.

The Disocactus should flower within two years.

The cutting below, even though somewhat neglected has actually surprisingly flowered within 10 months!

So its location, location, location.

These cuttings were potted up in January this year and have thrived over the period.

One more image of a deep pink specimen:

If you would like to grow these beautiful plants and enjoy the stunning blooms, do some research into the many and varied species and colours that are available.

Disocactus is an easy and fuss free plant that will add so much colour to any garden.

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