A popular winter-flowering houseplant that can be utilized in almost any indoor setting is the Christmas Cactus (Schlumbergera bridgesii). This is a top contender for Christmas gift-giving because it’s not only simple to maintain but also spreads widely.
This cactus subspecies thrives in an environment that is often moist, gloomy, and cold. It was created in the highlands along the coast of southeast Brazil, close to the Atlantic Ocean. Historical records state that it was first grown in Europe in 1818.
Popular low-maintenance indoor plants that may last for years include Christmas cacti. The festive blooms that bloom over the holidays gave the succulent plant its name, but it may also bloom at other times of the year. There are many different colors available for the orchid-like flowers, including red, pink, purple, orange, and white.
Unlike other desert cacti, the Christmas cactus is native to the coastal rainforests of Brazil. In its natural environment, it is subjected to a lot of moisture and excessive humidity. As a result, it suggests that it needs different care than other cacti in your indoor garden.
Christmas Cactus Overview
Genus Name: Schlumbergera
Common Name: Christmas Cactus
Plant Type: Houseplant
Light: Part Sun
Height: From 6 to 12 inches
Width:1 to 2 ft.
Flower Color: Colors include orange, pink, purple, red, white, and yellow.
Season Features: Autumn bloom, Spring bloom, and Winter bloom
Special Features: Low Maintenance for Containers
Propagation: Seeds and stem cutting
Types Of Christmas Cactus
Schlumbergera X buckleyi has leaf borders with scalloped edges and clusters of satiny blooms that hang on split stalks resembling leaves. It is also known as zygocactus or Christmas cactus.
Most Christmas cacti don’t bloom until mid-December, and many of the plants sold as such are actually Thanksgiving cacti.
This rare Schlumbergera has variegated creamy leaves and magenta blooms with white centers.
Schlumberger a truncata grows a few weeks before Christmas cactus. It consists of two to four teeth with points at the stem section edges.
Which Season Can You Grow Christmas Cactus Plant?
Christmas Cactus typically bloom from early to mid-winter.
How To Grow Christmas Cactus
Christmas cacti require a certain amount of light throughout their flowering season in order to help them form growing buds. Sleep cycles are important for both people and plants. “Be aware that this houseplant, like people, requires 12 to 15 hours of total darkness per day if the buds have not yet developed,” warns Palomares.
For Christmas Cactus growing outside in the summer, this process naturally begins with the arrival of cooler evenings in late summer as fall draws near. From the day you want flowers to start blooming indoors, go back eight weeks. Put your plants in a location where they will receive enough amount of uninterrupted darkness. In other words, not even a lamp or streetlight beaming through a window can be considered light. One approach is to use a grow light on a timer to maintain the plant in a dark area or underground for eight weeks. When the leaf tips have developed buds, move the plant back to its original spot.
According to Palo Mares, Christmas Cactus grows “typically from late October to winter (around January)”. It continues to produce buds and blooms throughout its flowering season, but it slows down in January and doesn’t start up again until the following year.
Christmas Cactus Care
A Christmas plant requires somewhat more maintenance than the majority of other desert cacti that can withstand drought. The Christmas cactus is a tropical rainforest native that needs consistent watering to thrive. From pots and hanging baskets, the stemmed portion of the folded leaves droops and drapes.
A Christmas plant requires somewhat more maintenance than the majority of other desert cacti that can withstand drought. Native to tropical rainforests, the Christmas Cactus requires regular irrigation to thrive. From pots and hanging baskets, the branching parts of the folded leaves drop and drape.
Pruning is often not required unless you want to prune an overgrown Christmas cactus. To prolong the cactus bloom as long as possible, remove going blossoms.
The best time to propagate a Christmas cactus is one to two months after it has finished flowering. Avoid spreading it in the autumn when it is heavily flowering and setting buds. Taking big or little Christmas cactus cuttings can encourage the parent plant to become bigger and bushier, which will lead to more blooms later on. The most effective method of growing Christmas cactus is via stem cuttings. A 4- or 6-inch container should first be half-filled with a growth medium, such as cactus soil, all-purpose potting soil, or a dusty/peat mix. You can root the object in a clear container of filtered water before planting.
The Christmas cactus doesn’t need soil; it may grow as an epiphyte in its natural habitat and is tolerant of most types of earth. Yours will thrive in both common potting soil and loamy, sandy, perlite, and cactus mix. Peat moss is a helpful addition to a more acidic environment. It requires a pH level between 5.5 and 6.2 for optimal development.
Despite being a cactus, its tropical roots cause it to ask for more water than others Gently water the plant, allowing excess water to pass through the drainage holes Allow the soil to air out nearly fully between watering When the leaves pucker and shrivel, the soil is too dry, so you know. During the hot, sunny summer, water the plant twice a week. The plant could need watering for a week if it spends the winter in a sunny window.
To test the moisture content of the soil, stick your finger 2 inches into it; if it seems dry to the touch, water liberally. If you position the plant in a cooler location away from a window during the winter, it could only need watering every two to three weeks.
During the early spring and summer months, feed your Christmas cactus with a half-strength, diluted, water-soluble balanced fertilizer every month Stop feeding when you detect the production of blossom buds, which is usually in late summer or early autumn After the plant flowers, you can start monthly feedings.
A Christmas cactus prefers sun or shade, but you must be careful not to give it too much. The cactus love partial shade or indirect light, but they may tolerate various other situations If, you expose them to full sunlight, ensure It’s in the winter because the plant could get pale and yellow from too much sunlight in the spring and summer.
Temperature And Humidity
The Christmas cactus requires a moisture level, mainly when cultivated in the dry circumstances of heated homes throughout the winter To, increase humidity, spray the plant or lay a pebble tray filled with water beneath the container.
Pests And Diseases
Fungus gnats, flower thrips, aphids, spider mites, and mealy bugs are the most prevalent pests that attack Christmas Cacti. Do not overwater your plant; damp soil attracts these pests the most.
In most circumstances, horticultural oil and insecticidal soap are effective at managing an outbreak. By blotting the little bugs with a cotton ball soaked in alcohol, you can also get rid of them. If other plants are nearby or the Christmas cactus becomes seriously infected, it may not recover and has to be destroyed.
Overwatering causes extensive microbial diseases in plants. Avoid overwatering to keep fungal illnesses at bay. The two typical fungi that can cause stem rot in Christmas cacti are Fusarium and Phytophthora.
Fusarium causes stem rot, which results in brown spots on the stem close to the soil line. Stems of plants affected by Phytophthora rot become wet or drenched near the soil line. Lethal Phytophthora. A Christmas cactus may recover from fusarium if it is discovered in time. However, it is typically challenging to keep. Before using a fungicide as directed on the label, let the soil around the plant dry up.
Common Problems With Christmas Cactus
Holiday cacti are good-living plants that are temperature and humidity sensors they are resilient when kept above freezing levels; nonetheless, they require perfect temperatures and circumstances for profuse flowering throughout the holidays.
Stunted Appearance Or Growth Distortion
Check your Christmas cactus for a mealy bug infestation if you see stunted or deformed growth. Mealybugs resemble small white cotton dots that are 1/8 to 1/4 inch long they travel slowly and frequently appear low on the leaf surface in the dark, warm, damp locations around the cactus’s center stem the insects feed on plant sap and leave behind a sticky honeydew material, which causes mold to grow on the plant.
Leaves Turning Red or Pink
Your Christmas cactus may have had too much sun or not enough water if its leaves become red or pink. Move your plant to a window that receives indirect light if it is currently in a window that receives direct sunlight. If the soil has dried to a depth of little more than one inch, water it more often. When the top of the soil seems dry, a Christmas cactus needs to be watered.
These low-maintenance plants could produce flowers repeatedly! The Christmas cactus is often used throughout the holiday season and with good reason. It’s a flowering succulent that needs minimal upkeep, has exquisite flowers, and with the appropriate care, might live up to 100 years!