Christmas Cactus / Schlumbergera care and details: Unique looking beautiful cacti
Christmas cactus are one of the popular succulents grown for their beautiful pink or red flowers. They are named Christmas cacti because they bloom during winter. The plants can be grown both indoors and outdoors can be potted and grown as a hanging plant. They are easy to grow and maintain. These plants are not toxic to animals or humans.
Quick Details of Christmas Cactus / Schlumbergera
|Other Common Names||Christmas Cactus , Thanksgiving cactus, Easter Cactus|
|Flowering||Winter, hence the name Christmas cactus|
|Light||Low to moderate bright indirect sunlight, can tolerate partial direct and indirect light.|
|Water||When the soil is dry|
|Soil||Well drained sandy soil|
|Fertilizer||Any liquid houseplant / cactus fertilizer|
|Common Diseases||Mealy bugs|
|Scientific name||Schlumbergera bridgesii|
Overview of Christmas Cactus
Christmas cactus are evergreen forest cacti native to Brazil and belonging to the family of Cactaceae. In natural habitat they grow on trees and rocks and prefer shady areas with high humidity.
The stems of the plants resemble leaves and are flat pads. The stems help in photosynthesis. The tip of the stem contains areoles from which the flower buds arise. The flowers are pink, white, yellow or red in colour and bloom only during optimum climatic conditions mostly during winters.
Christmas Cactus Plant
The Christmas cactus plants undergo a resting period from February to March. They do not require much water during their dormant stage.
Usage and Advantage of Christmas Cactus
- Grown as an ornamental plant.
General Care for Christmas Cactus
Christmas cactus prefer well drained soil with a mixture of potting soil and peat or sand.
Christmas cactus plants should be watered enough to keep the soil moist. They can not tolerate too dry or wet soil. The soil shouldn’t be soggy or wet. Water shouldn’t be allowed to stand in the pot trays as well.
During summers and spring place the plants under partial sunlight. They do not tolerate direct bright sunlight during summers. When the conditions are cold or during winter the plants can be fed with direct sunlight. Too much light will damage the plants and prevent the formation of buds and flowers.
Temperature and humidity:
The Christmas cactus can grow well in normal conditions with a temperature range of 15-20ºc. The plants tend to grow slow below and above this range. They prefer normal room humidity. The leaves can be misted frequently during summers to maintain the humidity. During colder climates (below 10ºc) the plants can wilt and die.
Pruning: The Christmas cactus plants can be pruned during summer to encourage new growth. They are slow growers and do not need regular pruning.
Repotting: The Christmas cactus plants like to be pot bound. They can be repotted in 3-5 years into a bigger sized pot. Repotting can be done during the late spring season.
Flowering: Christmas cactus flower during the summers. The preferred temperature ranges from 10 -13ºc and with a light exposure of 10 hours followed with darkness for 12- 14 hours for at least 6 weeks. This encourages flowering of the plant. In case of warmer climates, the plants can be placed indoors and covered with a cloth to obtain complete darkness.
Any house plant fertilizer can be used weekly during spring and summer and ones in a month during winters.
Pests and other problems for Christmas Cactus
The Christmas cactus are not prone to any pests or pathogens. Problems arise if the temperature of the surroundings drop below 10ºc. The buds fall off. Over watering can cause root rot. Dry soil can cause the cactus to die. Any stress can cause the plants to drop off its flowers. The stress can include low or over watering, excess exposure to sunlight etc. they can also be susceptible to mealy bugs.
Propagation of Christmas Cactus
The Christmas cactus can be propagated through stem or leaf cutting.
A stem or a leaf can be cut out from the parent plant and left to dry for 3-4 day. The dried cutting can be planted on soil and watered regularly to maintain the moisture in the soil. They should be provided with at least 6 to 10 hours of sunlight. The cutting should be inserted 1 inch deep. The best time to propagate is during summer. After few weeks the cuttings starts to develop roots and grow into a new plant.