My Christmas cactus is blooming beautifully.
How nice to have a plant burst into bloom when most everything else has been laid low by the cold, and is brown and dead.
In reading about the Christmas cactus, I learned some new things and had one of my questions answered. I have wondered what triggers the cactus to bloom.
The official name of this plant is Schlumbergera buckleyi or zyogcactus buckleyi, and it does not exist naturally in the wild. It is a hybridization of two parent tropical plants from the rain forests of Brazil. It is not actually a cactus, but a type of succulent. It is not poisonous to humans or animals.
It is identified by its segmented stems with blooms at the end of the stems in red, pink, purple, yellow and white. And it blooms around Christmas time, and thus the name. My plant always blooms between Thanksgiving and Christmas, so I am never sure which to call it-a Thankgiving cactus or a Christmas cactus….
A close-up of one of the blossoms.
The Christmas cactus does not take any special care. I pretty much ignore it most of the year, watering and fertilizing with all the other plants. But when it blooms, it takes center stage on the dining room table.
To grow Christmas cactus-
Water-likes moist soil but does not like sitting in water.
Soil- regular potting soil, with small stones in the bottom of the pot for good drainage.
Fertilizer- every month with regular fertilizer. Stop fertilizing in October.
Light-likes bright indirect sunlight. A north or east facing window is good. Direct sunlight will burn the leaf segments.
Temperature-likes a moderate temperature, best between 65-75 degrees, which is the average temperature of most homes. I put all my houseplants outside, on my shaded back porch for the summer. The Christmas cactus has always flourished outside, but being a tropical plant it must be brought in before temps drop below 40 degrees.
Humidity-likes a high humidity, between 50 and 60, which is the biggest challenge for indoor growing.
Christmas cactus likes a snug pot, and will bloom best when pot bound.
Pruning-Prune about a month after blooming to encourage better bloom. Prune by twisting off a portion of the segmented stem. Up to 1/3 of the plant can be removed. The removed stems can be used to propagate new plants.
Christmas cactus will bloom when they have complete dark for 12-14 hours a day. Now I know why my cactus blooms when it does!
(And I have an odd little habit of collecting the dropped blossoms-they keep their shape and color for years, and I have a little bowl of pink blossoms on the buffet!)
Do you grow and like Christmas cactus?
Heaven and earth shall pass away,
but my words shall not pass away.