Have you ever wondered what those cute little cactuses are that people have in their homes around Christmas time? Well, wonder no more! Today, we’re discussing the Schlumbergera, also known as the Christmas cactus.
This plant is native to Brazil and a member of the cactus family! The Schlumbergera is known for its beautiful, bright flowers that bloom around Christmas time (hence the name). They are easy to care for and make a great addition to any home.
If you’re thinking about getting a Schlumbergera of your own, here are a few things you should know:
The Schlumbergera does best in bright, indirect light. It can tolerate some direct sun, but too much sunlight will scorch the leaves. These plants enjoy full, direct sunlight throughout the fall and winter. In other seasons, the plants should be grown in partial sunlight. During non-flowering periods, too much light might induce the plant to turn yellow and fail to produce buds the following year.
Water your Christmas cactus about once a week during the spring and summer, allowing the soil to dry out between watering. During the fall and winter months, you can cut back on watering to about once every two weeks. It’s important not to overwater this cactus, as too much water can lead to root rot. Before watering again, make sure that the soil is completely dry. To check, stick your finger about an inch into the ground. If it feels dry, it’s time to water.
The Schlumbergera does best in average room temperatures between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. It can tolerate cooler temperatures but not for extended periods. If the temperature drops below 50 degrees, the plant will likely go into dormancy and stop blooming. Extreme heat can also be detrimental to the Christmas cactus, as it can cause the plant to wilt.
The Schlumbergera does best in a well-draining potting mix. You can purchase a commercial cactus mix or make your own by mixing 60% potting soil with a pH-balanced formula and either 40% bark or 40% perlite. The Christmas cactus does not like to sit in soggy soil. The mixture should be allowed to dry out completely between waterings to prevent root rot.
Christmas cactus feeding occurs monthly during the growing season, generally from April through October. It will keep your plants in tip-top condition to form buds and, eventually, that fully bloomed look in time for Christmas.
Use a balanced fertilizer such as 10-10-10 or 12-12-12 at half the recommended strength for other houseplants. Fertilize every two weeks and reduce to once a month as the plant approaches its blooming period. Once buds have been set, stop fertilizing to prevent buds from falling off.
To encourage your Christmas cactus to bloom, you’ll need to give it a little TLC in the form of pruning. These plants bloom on new growth, so you’ll want to prune them back once they’ve finished flowering. Prune the stems back by about one-third to one-half their length. You can also remove any yellow or dead leaves. Regular pruning will help to control the plant’s size and shape. It will also help to keep your Christmas cactus looking its best.
If you like to create more Christmas cacti, you can do so by propagating stem cuttings. To do this, just cut a healthy stem from the plant (making sure to include at least two sets of leaves), and pot it in the moist cactus mix. Place the pot in a warm, bright location, and keep the soil moist (but not soggy). In a few weeks, you should see new growth. Once the plant is established, you can treat it like a regular Christmas cactus.
The Christmas cactus blooms in a variety of colors, including pink, red, purple, and white. The flowers are fairly small, but they’re produced in abundance. These plants typically bloom in late fall or early winter, around the holidays. The blooms of Christmas cactus are triggered by the cooler temperatures and longer nights of fall. If you want your cactus to bloom at Christmas, you’ll need to give it a little extra care in the fall.
To encourage your Christmas cactus to bloom, giving it a resting period is essential. It means reducing water and fertilizer and keeping the plant in a cool (but not cold) location. The resting period should last for about six to eight weeks. Once this time has passed, you can begin to increase water and fertilizer and move the plant to a warmer location. With proper care, your Christmas cactus should bloom in no time.
Potting and Repotting
As your Christmas cactus grows, you’ll need to re-pot it every few years. Be sure to choose a pot slightly larger than the previous one. These plants do not like to be pot-bound, so you’ll want to ensure there is enough room for the roots to spread out. When repotting, be sure to use a well-draining potting mix.
It’s best to re-pot your Christmas cactus in the spring before the plant begins to grow actively. It will provide the plant time to adjust to its new pot and soil before the growing season begins.
Bud Drop: One of the most common issues with Christmas cactus is bud drop. It can be caused by several things, including too much or too little water, fertilizer, or changes in temperature. If you see that your cactus is starting to drop buds, make sure to check its care needs and make any necessary adjustments. With a bit of extra care, you should be able to get your Christmas cactus blooming again in no time.
Rotting: Rots, including basal stem rot and root rots, can also be a problem for Christmas cacti. These conditions are caused by fungi or bacteria and can be challenging to control. If you notice any signs of rot, it’s essential to act quickly. Remove any affected leaves or stems, and increase air circulation around the plant. You may also want to treat the plant with a fungicide or bactericide.
Pests: Christmas cactus can also fall victim to pests. Common pests include spider mites, mealybugs, and scale. These pests can cause a variety of problems, including leaf drops and stunted growth. If you notice any pests on your plant, it’s crucial to take action immediately. You can remove small infestations by hand or use a pesticide for larger infestations.
Schlumbergera is a beautiful and festive plant that you can enjoy during Christmas and all year long. With proper care, your Schlumbergera will thrive and provide you with years of enjoyment. Have you ever grown a Christmas cactus before? What tips do you have to share? Let us know in the comments below!