Monday, 13 October 2014

How to Grow and Care for Christmas Cactus Plants

Christmas Cactus Plants (Schlumbergera)

Christmas Cactus Plants (Schlumbergera) are thermo-photoperiodic. That means that their bloom set timing is triggered by a combination of day length and temperature.
The genus was named after Frederic Schlumberger, a 19th century French cactus collector who discovered the original Christmas Cactus, Schlumbergera buckleyi. Schlumbergera are epiphytic plants with flattened, 2" leaf-like stem segments. In nature, they reside cordially with the Orchids and Epiphyllums in the crotches and branches of their host jungle trees.

Growing Requirements for Christmas Cactus Plants

The Christmas Cactus Plants (Schlumbergera) can grow with very little light and that's why they make good house plants, however, for good flower production your Christmas Cactus will require bright light or full sun in the fall months.
Plant them in a soil mix consisting of 3 parts peat moss, 1 part loam and 1 part coarse sand or perlite.
Schlumbergeras bloom best when they are somewhat rootbound and crowded. Plant them in a pot that is wider than it is tall.
When repotting, only move up one size of planter.
The soil should be kept moist during the spring and summer. Fertilize every 2 weeks during this time with a diluted, ½ strength houseplant fertilizer.
In the fall, reduce watering and keep your Christmas Cactus cooler 60°-65° at night. Protect from artificial light during night time hours.
Increase watering and resume feeding when the flower buds appear. Christmas Cactus and other Holiday Cactus do not like to be moved to a different location once they set their buds.
Environmental changes can cause the flowers to rapidly drop.

Propagating Christmas Cactus Plants

Christmas Cactus 'Schlumbergera' are easily propagated by cuttings taken in the spring or summer. Cut (or twist off) single or multiple segments from the tips of the branches. Keep track of which end is 'up'. Set the segments in a cool, dry location for a week to let the cuts callous over. Insert the base of the cutting ½" deep in moist sand or vermiculite mix. When the new roots are well established, move your new Christmas Cactus to an appropriate container.


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