Christmas Cactus

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Pink Christmas Cactus

About the Christmas Cactus

The botanical name of the christmas cactus is schlumbergera. The name “Schlumbergera” was as a tribute given by the botanist Charles Lemaire to the French collector Frederic Schlumberger in the middle of the nineteenth century. The Christmas cactus originates in Brazil. The plant grows in rain forrests on tree trunks. Trees are containing a rich supply of humus so this cactus is also very suitable as an indoor plant. It is used to indirect light and a higher humidity. The location can be the family room, the front room, the dining room and when you have a spacious kitchen it can be placed there as well. The plant will be very well suited for a hanging pot as it will accentuate the flowers even more.

In the Southern Hemisphere you have better luck to bloom the Christmas cactus during the coldest months of the year instead of during the Christmas season.  

 

Christmas Cactus Care

The permanent location of my Christmas cactus is at a north, north east side. A fine spot. On a south, south west window  the light should be diffused by means of a sheer curtain or  a blind.  The plant should be protected against bright (sun)light. Don’t expose the plant to a hot source, like a fireplace or a heating vent; keep the plant away from draft. The room temperature should be between 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit or 16-20 degrees Celsius. Give or take a few degrees either way. Water the plant regular but moderately. Add every two to three weeks some  fertilizer for blooming plants. The fertilizer should be watered down by 50%.  The soil should not be too dry. Use a plastic or wooden stick to check the potting soil. Does the stick stay clean then the plant needs water. Turn the plant at regular intervals while encouraging growth as the plant tends to grow towards the light. This way you avoid that you see lushbloom on one side only. 

Care before Blooming

The time that the Christmas cactus is blooming is around Thanksgiving and Christmas. September and October are the months that the plant:

  • should preferably be put into a cooler room where temperatures should stay the same approximately 50-55 degrees Fahrenheit or 10-12 degrees Celsius, a few degrees more or less either way; do not expose the plant to a freezing temperature. 
  • should not have more than 10-12 hours of daylight
  • watering should be reduced; no fertilizer

The bud forming will be the month following.

Christmas Cactus Blooming

In November the Christmas Cactus should be blooming. Water the plant once a week.  To remove withered blossoms  take the end of the segment into your fingers and turn the blossom gently to the right. This stimulates the blooming of the Christmas cactus. When the cactus is back on its location lower the temperature somewhat.  In these blooming months do not turn the plant.

After Blooming

Give the Christmas cactus after blooming a month rest. Very little or no water and of course no fertilizer during this month. When you see new segments forming you can start watering again. In March-April you can prune the Christmas cactus. Give the plant fresh soil  and a larger pot when necessary every 2-3 years, unless  the soil is depleted from its nutrients or the roots are damaged. Also in these months  you also can propagate a Christmas cactus by taking off two or three segments (the same way you remove a withered blossom) and placing  it in a 3 inch pot containing the same potting soil as the parent plant. Give it just a little water at the time to avoid rotting of the segments. It will take 2-4 weeks before segments are rooted. 

The Christmas cactus is a gorgeous plant when blooming and it makes the Christmas season  more special.  Even  the greater part of the year when the plant is not blooming it is still a beautiful and trendy plant for its capricious grow.

Color variety of Christmas cactus: orange, pink, purple, scarlet and white.

 

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Christmas Cactus close up