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Xela's Garden

Christmas Cactus [V+S]

Species: Schlumbergera.

Bob's cactus first in my care Oct '83 on Bathroom windowsill
Sept '11 Shenstone bathrm windowsill (cutting from Bob's original)

# Name - The genus Schlumbergera, pronounced SHLOOM-berg-er-a, is named after Frederick Schlumbergera, a Belgian horticulturist in around 1900. Also sometimes called claw cactus. Related to and similar in habit to Easter cactus, Rhipsalidopsis.
# Description - Spineless cactus formed of flattened fleshy segments in arching stems. Flowers appear in winter from the ends of a segment. In the wild, many are ephiphytic (perching on trees but not taking sustenance from their host).
# Origin - Brazilian rainforests
# Family - Cactaceae
# Colours - Bright pink, red, orange or white.
# Care Tips -
One of the jungle or rainforest cacti, which, unlike desert cacti, like to be sprayed occasionally, preferably with soft water, or it will mark the leaves.
Thrives in indirect light but flowering may be inhibited if light levels are too high.
Give a cool, fairly dry rest period after flowering. After that feed with half strength liquid feed from spring to late summer. Do not move plant once buds have formed or these may fall off.

Christmas cacti normally flower from November to March, as long as they have been grown well during the summer with plenty of moisture and relatively cool temperatures. Placing them outdoors during the summer months is the best way of achieving this.

To initiate flower buds they need at least 12 hours of uninterrupted darkness in late summer and autumn every night. Without this flower buds may fail to form.

Flower buds begin to form as day length shortens to eight to 10 hours in autumn. Plants near an artificial light source - domestic lighting for example - after dark may not flower. Try moving them to a spare (but not cold) room where artificial light is not used after dark. Alternatively, cover them every night, with a black plastic bag for example, to exclude any artificial light. Do this after they have been exposed to eight to 10 hours of daylight (from early September for Christmas flowering) on a well lit windowsill. This might mean covering from 6pm to 8am, for six weeks. After this they can be left uncovered, and in good day light.

Temperatures above 18oC (65oF) appear to inhibit flower bud initiation and development, and reduce the period of bloom. High temperatures also delay flower bud initiation and lead to late flowering, long after the plant is expected to come into flower. On the other hand if temperatures fall below 10oC (50oF) flowers may not develop.

Where Christmas cacti have not flowered by late winter consider adopting the covering procedure, to induce them to flower in spring. Remember that they need a resting period after flowering of cool, but not cold temperatures, and should be kept relatively dry.
# Trivia - In the wild Schlumbergera are pollinated by hummingbirds.

Photos of this plant

  • Christmascactusbobsvistabilethrmwindowsill12.01.07
  • Chrismascactuscloseupvistabilebthrmwindowsill12.01.07

Reminders for this plant

Due about 15 years ago:

Rest

Give a cool, fairly dry rest period after flowering.

Take cuttings

After he plant has flowered, cut stems that are about 5 inches long and have several branches. Since Christmas cactus is a succulent, allow the cuttings to dry before potting the stem. You can use a rooting hormone to speed new growth. Use a quick draining potting mix with organic matter. Clay pots are best, since they breath and therefore the cutting will not rot from over-watering. Place the cutting in bright, indirect light and keep the soil moist. It should develop roots in several weeks.

Feed

Feed with half strength liquid feed from spring to late summer.

Summer holiday

Placing them outdoors during the summer months is the best way of achieving good growth during the summer with plenty of moisture and relatively cool temperatures.

Due about 14 years ago:

Rest

Give a cool, fairly dry rest period after flowering.

Feed

Feed with half strength liquid feed from spring to late summer.

Take cuttings

After the plant has flowered, cut stems that are about 5 inches long and have several branches. Since Christmas cactus is a succulent, allow the cuttings to dry before potting the stem. You can use a rooting hormone to speed new growth. Use a quick draining potting mix with organic matter. Clay pots are best, since they breath and therefore the cutting will not rot from over-watering. Place the cutting in bright, indirect light and keep the soil moist. It should develop roots in several weeks.

Due over 13 years ago:

Rest

Give a cool, fairly dry rest period after flowering.

Take cuttings

After the plant has flowered, cut stems that are about 5 inches long and have several branches. Since Christmas cactus is a succulent, allow the cuttings to dry before potting the stem. You can use a rooting hormone to speed new growth. Use a quick draining potting mix with organic matter. Clay pots are best, since they breath and therefore the cutting will not rot from over-watering. Place the cutting in bright, indirect light and keep the soil moist. It should develop roots in several weeks.

Due about 13 years ago:

Feed

Feed with half strength liquid feed from spring to late summer.

Summer holiday

Placing them outdoors during the summer months is the best way of achieving good growth during the summer with plenty of moisture and relatively cool temperatures.

Due over 12 years ago:

Rest

Give a cool, fairly dry rest period after flowering.

Feed

Feed with half strength liquid feed from spring to late summer.

Take cuttings

After the plant has flowered, cut stems that are about 5 inches long and have several branches. allow the cuttings to dry before potting the stem. You can use a rooting hormone to speed new growth. Place the cutting in bright, indirect light and keep the soil moist. It should develop roots in several weeks.

Due about 12 years ago:

Summer holiday

Placing them outdoors during the summer months is the best way of achieving good growth during the summer with plenty of moisture and relatively cool temperatures.

Due over 11 years ago:

Rest

See previous notes

Take cuttings

See previous notes

Feed

Feed with half strength liquid feed from spring to late summer.

Due about 11 years ago:

Summer holiday

See previous notes

Due over 10 years ago:

Rest

Give a cool, fairly dry rest period after flowering.

Take cuttings

See previous notes