Christmas cactus, or hybrid Schlumbergera buckleyi, is a well-known cactus in the Cactaceae family that is grown for its eye-catching cerise flowers, which bloom inside around the time of Christmas in the Northern Hemisphere. The majority of Christmas cacti that are currently grown are thought to be hybrids between S. russelliana and the Thanksgiving, or crab, cactus (Schlumbergera truncata, originally Epiphyllum truncatum). It is native to Brazil, where it grows as an epiphyte in rainforests, primarily on trees or bushes but also in shaded areas among rocks. It is a member of the Schlumbergera genus. Zygocactus, the alternate name for the genus, is commonly used.
The Thanksgiving cactus and the Christmas cactus are sometimes confused, although the former has crenated (rounded) stem joint margins, and the latter has strongly saw-toothed stem joint margins. Thanksgiving cacti are frequently mistakenly marketed as Christmas cacti since they bloom in the late fall.
When may Christmas cacti be purchased?
In the late fall and winter, Christmas cacti are typically bought already in bloom or at least budded. Avoid drastic temperature changes when transporting your Christmas cactus since they can cause some of the buds to fall off. For optimal results, place in a light window and maintain the soil just moist enough. During the winter flowering season, fertilizer is not required.
Christmas cacti require as much light as possible once the last blooms have faded and prefer to be maintained on the cool side during rest periods (February – March and July – August). The plant needs to be transferred to a normal room temperature once the flower buds begin to appear in the fall.
At the start of the growth period, these cacti should be repotted every three to five years. It’s important that the soil flow easily, so always use a light soil (commercial cactus soil is acceptable).
The right amount of water, food, and relaxation must be given at the right times. Additionally, the length of daylight and the temperature of the environment will affect flowering.
The plant needs to rest when flowering is finished. Sparingly water it; do not let the stems to shrivel. If at all feasible, relocate the plant to a cool, well-lit area.
From the first of April, begin watering more frequently. Now that winter is over, the cactus will begin to flourish once more. The tips of each stem will have fresh shoots that may be seen plainly. If necessary, pot in April, and then feed a few times throughout the following months. Use a regular cactus soil that allows water to drain freely. If the soil is excessively damp, the weak roots will decay.
Christmas cacti can be placed outside in a light spot once the weather warms up. Avoid direct sunlight because certain types’ stems might become sunburned. I prefer bright, dappled shade.
This time of year is ideal for taking cuttings if you wish to. Placing good stems with two to four segments in damp sand makes propagation simple.
Reduce watering and let the soil completely dry in between waterings so that it doesn’t shrivel.
If you have your cactus outside for the summer, you can leave it there until the temperatures at night fall below fifty degrees (this period of cool nights and shortening days will encourage lots of flower buds). Restart increasing watering as soon as there are any indications of blossom buds. When growing blooms, the cactus must never become dry or be moved around excessively, as this will cause the buds to fall off the plant.
Mid-fall is when you should start to notice little, spherical buds emerging at the tips. When buds are growing in September and October, a few fertilizer applications may be beneficial for an old, huge plant.
It is diagnosed as needing more water. Give it a good soak in a basin of water or the sink, and after about 30 minutes, let it completely drain.
The roots are rotting, thus that is the diagnosis. Either the soil composition is incorrect or the plant has been overwatered. Take good cuttings and establish new plants because the plant cannot endure much longer.
The plant has either experienced too much movement or not enough water during the period when it establishes its buds, according to the diagnosis. More care should be given to it; observe the results. The next bloom cycle might be all that’s necessary for you to witness its splendor.
This year, give a Christmas cactus a try! The plant you purchase now might end up as an heirloom tomorrow!
What distinguishes Christmas cactus from counterfeit Christmas cactus?
My mother used to refer to her Christmas cactus as a Thanksgiving cactus since it would be fully bloomed by the end of November when I was a child. I was a good boy and never questioned or challenged Mom. Mom was correct, and that was twenty or so years and a couple advanced degrees later. Schlumbergera truncata, the well-liked plant that is currently showing up in garden centers for the holiday season, is also known as the Thanksgiving or false Christmas cactus.
We must delve farther into the passionate love affair with the Christmas cactus in order to overcome this deceit. When we turn the clock 177 years back to 1840s England, we find William Buckley, a committed gardener, and his experiment of a Schlumbergera hybrid between two species. He combined S. truncata with S. russelliana to produce the S. x buckleyi hybrid, which was known as the real Christmas cactus. As you read this at home, you might be tempted to quickly explore the internet. If you do, you might find some outdated literature that refers to this cross incorrectly as S. bridgesii, which would add another degree of dishonesty. There are certainly some older works of literature that use Zygocactus as the genus.
You need to know a few more things at this point because you are horrifiedly staring at your fake Christmas cactus and unsure of where to look for the real one. You need to know a little bit about botany and it is difficult to pick out the imposters. The Schlumbergera’s “leaves” are actually flattened stalks known as cladophyll (phylloclades by some botanist). The faux Christmas cactus will have stems with an open branch habit and soft points or teeth around the borders. These points are simply a part of the stem that is heavily lobed; they are not spines. False Christmas cactus flowers will be cheerful and vibrant in hues of pink, white, peach, and salmon. They will be held for around 5 to 7 days at the tip of the stems, pointing slightly upward. Additionally, the blossoms will appear somewhat horizontal or flat. The stems of the genuine Christmas cactus will significantly arch downward and have a closed habit. The stems will have rounded edges with tiny, discernible points or nubs. The blossoms of a genuine Christmas cactus will be more spherical than those of an impostor, point downward, and follow the stem’s orientation. Reds, pinks, and carmine will be the colors.
You might come across the Easter cactus Rhipsalidopsis gaeteneri, a close relative of Schlumbergera as you go out on your quest to find the genuine Christmas cactus. You’ll be relieved to learn that they are rarely provided and have little financial significance in the garden retail sector. Additionally, as their name suggests, they bloom in the spring. However, if you do come upon one, what’s another plant, right?
Last but not least, I’m sure you read this article and only glanced at the genus name since, like me, you find it difficult to say (shlum-BER-ger-uh), and I doubt that did anything to assist. Just some quick information The Cactaceae family of real cactus includes the Schlumbergera, which thrives in environments that we typically do not connect with cacti. They inhabit trees like orchids and are found deep within South America’s tropical rainforest.
Wishing you luck on your exploration and do let me know if you add a genuine Christmas cactus to your collection.
Do Christmas cacti thrive more indoors or outdoors?
Christmas cactus grows best in direct, bright sunlight. If kept outdoors during the warmer months, place it under a tree or close to a window if indoors.
Despite its name, the Christmas cactus is not a desert plant; rather, it originated in the South American continent’s tropical rain forests. If you live in a dry region, keep a source of humidity handy, such as a shallow tray of water. The plant needs constant watering because it cannot withstand dry soil (done at the base of the plant).
On the other hand, too much water will make the leaves spotty and drop off. Before watering, let the soil’s top layer entirely dry out.
How long is the lifespan of a Christmas cactus?
During the holidays, the Christmas cactus may be seen everywhere, and with good cause. It’s a blooming succulent that requires little maintenance, produces lovely blooms, and, with the right care, can last up to 100 years! That is correct! This plant may endure for a long time, bringing color to your holidays for many years. For a plant that is as cheap and uncomplicated as the Christmas cactus, that’s a fairly great investment!
What is the meaning of a Christmas cactus?
Symbolism. Schlumbergera has no recognized significance, but given that it may thrive in a home environment for 20 to 30 years, we believe it is a good representation of loyalty.
Can Christmas cacti be kept inside?
The common Christmas Cactus (Schlumbergera bridgesii), which blooms in the winter, is a lovely complement to almost any interior space. It is a superb contender for holiday gift giving because it is not only simple to maintain but also easily multiplies. Let’s examine how to grow and maintain a Christmas cactus.
How often does a Christmas cactus bloom each year?
Whichever one you have, it’s possible for them to bloom more than once a year. For Your Reference, Here Are A Few Of Our General Houseplant Guides: Watering Indoor Plants: A Guide.
How can a Christmas cactus be made to blossom once more?
Yes. In contrast to many other succulents, If the Christmas cactus is given the right conditions, it can bloom again in the spring. Christmas cactus can be encouraged to bloom once more by placing it in the east-facing window, which gets plenty of light during the day and 12 hours of darkness at night.
As soon as the buds start to appear, which should be at least six to eight weeks from now, make sure your succulent is kept dark and cool.
Your Christmas cactus may experience bud growth followed by bud drop if it is exposed to drafts, excessive heat, sunlight, or water.
It can take up to twelve weeks for flowers to fully develop after the bud stage. Make sure to move the plant to a bright, draft-free area once it blooms. Put it somewhere that doesn’t get direct sunlight, though. You will see more blooming when it receives indirect bright sunlight. As your Christmas Cactus blooms, you should give it more water; the amount will depend on the temperature, the lighting, and the humidity.
How can you determine whether a Christmas cactus is genuine?
The holiday season has here, which not only calls for decorations but also festive plants! At this time of year, there are many lovely holiday plants to pick from, whether they are bought from a florist, nursery, or are grown at home. The Christmas cactus is one of the most popular plants to give or receive at this time of year. Or is it a Thanksgiving or Easter cactus?
The three cacti differ from one another in terms of how their leaves are shaped. The edges of the leaves of the Thanksgiving cactus (Schlumgera truncata) are very sharply pointed and shaped like claws. The leaf projections of the Christmas cactus (Schlumgera bridgesti) are more scalloped or teardrop shaped. The edges of the leaves of the Easter cactus (Rhipsalidopsis gaertnerrii) are extremely rounded and centered.
These three cacti are all classified as short-day plants. Therefore, the plant needs low temperatures and 12–24 hours of darkness in order to bloom. If you overwintered your plant outside or bought it from a florist or nursery, you should keep it in a cold, dark place until the buds appear. The optimum location is an infrequently used bedroom or lower level. The Easter cactus gets its name from the fact that it takes 8–12 weeks of short days to bloom as opposed to the Christmas and Thanksgiving cacti’s roughly six weeks. It can be brought into a warmer environment once the buds start to form for your enjoyment. At this stage, a plant may occasionally start to lose its buds. That might be caused by air currents, warm temperatures, an abundance of water, or direct sunlight. Bright light is good for the plants, but not direct sunlight. Before watering, the soil should be completely dry to one inch below the surface. Fertilizing or repotting shouldn’t be done when the plant is in bloom. The plants appear to thrive when they are root-bound.
You might see the Christmas and Thanksgiving cactus bloom once more in the spring, though perhaps not as lavishly as over the holiday season. Simply restore the plant to its short day settings to promote springtime blooming.
Unless they are overwatered, these plants are generally disease-free. If the plant turns crimson, there is either too much sun, not enough phosphorus, or not enough water. There are rumors of plants that have been passed down from generation to generation for more than a century. Take advantage of these easygoing holiday plants and establish a new gardening custom. Call the Linn County Master Gardener Hortline at 319-447-0647 with any and all of your gardening inquiries.
What three varieties of Christmas cacti are there?
Thanksgiving cactus, Christmas cactus, and Easter cactus are the three popular holiday cacti, each of which is called after the season in which its blooms occur. All three are straightforward to cultivate and have comparable growth patterns and maintenance needs.
Today’s holiday cactus variations are available in magenta, pink, scarlet, as well as yellow, white, orange, purple, salmon, and apricot, however these well-known cacti are typically only available in red-hued hues. The Thanksgiving and Christmas cacti are tropical rain forest species, while the Easter cactus is indigenous to Brazil’s natural woods. All three are endemic to Brazil.
Why is it so difficult to locate real Christmas cacti?
Weihnachtskakteen Schlumbergera bridgestii “Christmastime is a rare time to find true Christmas cacti for sale. The branches of these plants drop downward like pendants, and their leaf segments are smooth and scalloped. The plant is more fragile than the Thanksgiving Cactus, making shipping more challenging.
Schlumbergera truncata, the Thanksgiving Cactus Around the holidays, this is the plant that you will probably find for sale being marketed as a “Cactus of Christmas. In contrast to the “real Christmas Cactus,” which has scalloped leaves, these plants’ leaves have pointed “hooks” that set them apart from their closely related relatives. As opposed to the Christmas Cactus, which has more pendulous branches, its branches arch UP before hanging down.
Tropical plants with South and Central American native ranges include Christmas cactus. Although they are not true cacti, they do grow in a setting resembling that of epiphytic orchids in the forks of tree branches, where they thrive in decomposing leaves and other organic matter that gathers there. Can you picture seeing these in full bloom high in the trees?
Your Christmas cactus will most likely be in bud and bloom when you get it home. If at all feasible, place the plant in bright light in a humid environment to avoid bud drop. As the water evaporates, placing them on a saucer or tray with pea gravel and water will enhance the humidity around the plant. They won’t grow as well if you position them near a door, heating ducts, a fireplace, or other drafty spots.
Water less regularly during the flowering period and for approximately a month after it, letting the soil dry in between applications, than you would in the spring and summer. When you do water, keep in mind to water WELL.