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Christmas Cactus

Schlumbergera spp.

Schlumbergera spp.

Christmas cactus is an easy houseplant that rewards gardeners with colourful blooms in winter.

This tropical plant is native to a small coastal mountain region in Brazil where it grows in the crooks of trees. It’s hard to believe that this plant belongs to the cactus family as it does not have prickles or spines. It was discovered in the 1800’s and has since been cultivated and bred for flowers in red, pink, orange, coral, salmon, white and even a hard-to-find yellow. The long, flat, green, segmented leaves are interesting to look at.

General care

  • Christmas cacti are not drought tolerant and will wilt when the soil is too dry.
  • They cannot tolerate being too wet either. Water when the top inch of soil is dry to the touch and never let them sit in water.
  • A sunny window with bright light is preferred.
  • Keep away from open windows, heat vents, radiators or fireplaces – they are fussy about drafts and extreme changes in temperature.
  • Fertilize at half strength and only when the plant is in bloom.

Getting them to re-bloom

  • This plant is sensitive to day-length. By October, it needs 12 hours of darkness every night to set bloom. Artificial lighting inside the home can interrupt darkness. If needed, place the plant in a dark room or closet for 12 hours each night.
  • Cool indoor air temperature at night is needed to initiate blooming. For best results, the air temperature should be at 18º C or cooler.
  • Christmas cacti will keep their blossoms longer in cooler temperatures.
  • Once the plant has finished blooming, it needs to rest. Reduce water and stop fertilizing.
  • Increase water and begin fertilizing again in the fall to initiate the bloom cycle again.

  

Sources

https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/profile?PID=840

http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/PlantFinder/PlantFinderDetails.aspx?kempercode=b669

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