Houseplant – Christmas Cactus (Schlumbergera bridgesii) is a popular and distinctive cactus with leaf-like segments on flattened stalks. Fuchsia-like flowers bloom in the winter and last for a long time from notches in the stems or the tips. They’re symmetrical, carmine red with a purple tinge in the center.
Christmas Cactus is a popular winter-flowering houseplant that works well in almost any indoor environment. It’s not only easy to care for, but it’s also easy to propagate, making it an excellent choice for holiday gift giving.
How to Plant Christmas Cactus
The first step is to determine whether or not you have a Christmas cactus. Cacti for Easter and Thanksgiving are deceptively identical. Click here to figure out which you have.
Cutting a small Y-shaped segment from the stem tips is an easy way to propagate the Christmas cactus. However, make sure the cutting comes from solely healthy plant foliage. Plant the piece in slightly sandy soil about a fourth of its length deep. Evenly moisten the cutting and place it in a well-lit spot away from direct sunshine.
Cut back shoots from the tips, cutting at the second joint of each tip, to root cuttings for new plants. Within a few weeks, the cutting should show signs of growth, at which point the plant can be transferred to another container with a looser potting soil mix of compost, loam, and sand, if desired.
How to Care for Christmas Cactus
According to Christmas cactus care advice, it thrives in typical household settings with minimal attention. Even though Christmas cactus can adapt to low light, it will produce more blooms if it is exposed to brighter light. Nevertheless, too much direct sunshine will burn the leaves of the Christmas cactus, so keep it in a shaded spot to avoid this.
Moisture is indeed key for Christmas cactus. During its optimum growth in the spring and summer, the plant requires frequent and thorough watering to maintain the soil slightly moist. Allow the moisture levels in your Christmas cactus to drop and dry out a little between waterings, but never totally, and never let the plant sit in water, as this will cause root and stem rot. It’s also good to apply a light houseplant fertilizer solution every other week.
When considering how to care for Christmas cactus, keep in mind it also prefers temperatures hovering between 60 and 70 degrees F. (15-21 C.) with average to high humidity levels. Placing a tray of pebbles filled with water beneath the Christmas cactus container is a good way to add more humidity to the home.
Once the Christmas cactus has ceased all flowering (usually by fall), or about six to eight weeks before you want the plant to rebloom, you should allow the plant to begin its dormancy cycle by cutting back on Christmas cactus moisture and reducing both light and temperature. Simply cut back the watering and make sure the plant receives 12-14 hours of darkness and average temperatures around 50-55 F. (10-12 C.). Also, keep the Christmas cactus away from drafty areas.