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!
Where can one locate Christmas cactus?
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.
Can Christmas cactus be kept indoors?
Christmas cacti require direct, strong sunlight. If you’re placing yours indoors near a west or south-facing window, make sure the light is shaded with a sheer curtain because they will burn in direct sunlight. If your home is dry inside in the winter, put it on a tray of stones or put it close to other plants because they need humidity.
Never let them sit in water; only add water when the top feels dry. Christmas cacti prefer temperatures between 65 and 70 degrees during the day and 55 to 65 degrees at night.
Why are Christmas cacti so difficult to locate?
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.
How do a Christmas cactus and a False Christmas cactus differ from one another?
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.
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.
Are Christmas cacti uncommon?
In this blog, I’ll discuss how to distinguish between Christmas and Thanksgiving cacti as well as share a link to a video I made for my Cacti & Succulent You Tube Channel called Desert Plants of Avalon in which I go into greater detail about the distinctions between Christmas and Thanksgiving cacti as well as Easter cacti.
Christmas and Thanksgiving cacti are epiphytic cacti that normally grow in tropical rainforests hanging from trees where they receive more moisture and shade than their desert sun-loving siblings. They are members of the Schlumbergera cactus family.
Schlumbergera cacti usually flower from mid-October to late-January, but it’s not uncommon for these cacti to bloom at other times of the year as well, especially if they’re cultivated indoors with artificial lighting.
Schlumbergera buckleyi, the real Christmas cacti, flower later than Schlumbergera truncata, the Thanksgiving cacti that are more frequently seen for sale. Schlumbergera buckleyi (Christmas cactus) blooms from early December to late January, while Schlumbergera truncata (Thanksgiving Cactus) blooms from early October to late December.
The Thanksgiving cactus, Schlumbergera truncata, is also known as the crab cactus because of its stem segments’ crab-like edges (see diagram below). Because of this, Schlumbergera truncata is frequently called the crab cactus.
Schlumbergera truncata, also known as the Thanksgiving Cactus, comes in a wide range of colors thanks to the numerous hybrids that are currently on the market. This cactus is the one that is most frequently seen for sale around the Christmas season and is also mistakenly referred to as the Christmas Cactus when it is actually a Thanksgiving Cactus.
Schlumbergera truncata has blooms that are more upright and do not hang down like Schlumbergera buckleyi.
The actual Christmas cactus, Schlumbergera buckleyi, has stem segments that are flattened and have smooth, scalloped edges rather than teeth ( see diagram below ). These days, this cactus is extremely infrequently offered for sale in garden centers and nurseries, and if you have lately purchased a cactus marked as a “Christmas Cactus,” it is almost always a truncata and not a buckleyi.
The actual Easter Cactus is Rhipsalidopsis gaertneri, and it likewise has stem segments that are highly spherical with scalloped edges, hairy coverings at the tips of each segment, and frequently red edges ( see diagram below ) Easter cacti typically bloom from March to April and their flowers are also significantly smaller.
Here is a video I did for my Cacti and Succulent You Tube channel called Desert Plants of Avalon where I go into great detail on how to distinguish between Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Easter Cactus.
In the coming days, I’ll be creating a blog post and a video on how to take care of Christmas and Thanksgiving cacti, so keep an eye out for them.
From the entire Emerald Isle, I’m sending you all my love, happiness, and an abundance of PLANT POWER.
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 frequently should a Christmas cactus be watered?
Christmas cacti are highly common indoor plants, and for good reason too! They produce vibrant, tubular flowers that are pink or purple in hue when they bloom. They are a superb plant because of their lovely blossoms, lengthy bloom period, and simple maintenance needs. Someone in your family most likely owns a Christmas cactus!
About Christmas Cacti
The Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera x buckleyi) and its cousins don’t exist in hot, arid conditions like deserts or plains, in contrast to other cacti. These epiphytic succulents, which grow on tree branches and take in the high humidity, dappled sunlight, and moderate temperatures, are actually endemic to the tropical rainforests of southern Brazil.
Bottom line: Don’t handle a Christmas cactus like a typical succulent or cactus. They are unable to withstand the same kind of hot, dry weather that other cactus can. These cacti require more frequent watering than most succulents, but you also need to be careful not to overwater them. (See the care guidelines in more detail below.)
Thanksgiving, Easter, or Christmas Cactus?
The Easter cactus (S. gaertneri), Thanksgiving cactus (S. truncata), and Christmas cactus are the three main varieties of “holiday cacti” that are available (S. x buckleyi). The holiday that each cactus is named after often sees the most blooming. Thanksgiving cacti, which often bloom from November to February and hence go unrecognized as Christmas cacti, make up the majority of “Christmas cacti” sold nowadays. See our post on the several Christmas cacti species and how to distinguish them for more information.
Note: Because it’s the most widely used term and it applies to all three of these species, we’ll refer to all three of them on this page as “Christmas cactus” for simplicity’s sake.
Potting Christmas Cacti
- Choose a pot with a drainage hole on the bottom if you’re choosing one for a Christmas cactus. This prevents the soil from getting overly saturated.
- Most succulent-specific potting mixtures work well for Christmas cacti growth. It’s crucial that your potting soil drains properly.
Where to Put a Christmas Cactus
- Plants should be kept in indirect light that is bright. The best location has an east-facing window or a well-lit bathroom. The delicate leaves might be bleached by too much direct sunshine.
- It is preferable to have a daytime temperature of 70F (21C) and an evening temperature of 60–65F (15–18C).
- Christmas cacti do well in a more humid climate, so keeping them in a well-lit bathroom or kitchen is a smart idea.
- Christmas cacti can be kept in a shady area of the garden or on an unheated porch during the summer until the temperature drops below 50F. (10C). Keep them away from the sun’s rays outside.
How to Care for Christmas Cacti
- Water your plants every two to three weeks, but only when the top third of the soil feels dry to the touch. If the plant is in 6 inches of soil, for instance, water when the top 2 inches of soil feel dry. (Check with your finger!)
- When the soil is completely dry, wet it until water seeps through the drainage holes in the pot. To collect the water, put a tray underneath the pot. To prevent the pot from sitting in water, remove any extra water on the tray after 10 to 15 minutes.
- While the plant is in bloom, it’s very crucial to water thoroughly.
- Feed your indoor plants with a balanced houseplant fertilizer every two weeks from spring through early fall. Feed the cactus once a month in the fall and winter to promote fruitful blooming.
- To promote branching and more flowers, prune plants in the late spring. Simply cut a portion of each stem off; the plant will grow new branches from the incision.
- If desired, plant the cut pieces in potting soil that is only gently damp; they will easily root after a few weeks and make wonderful Christmas gifts!
How to Get Your Christmas Cactus to Bloom
The longer evenings and chilly weather of fall are what cause Christmas cacti and its relatives to bloom. The three major varieties of holiday cacti typically bloom on the following schedule:
- Thanksgiving cactus typically produce flowers from late October through mid-winter, making them the earliest and longest bloomers.
- Christmas cacti often bloom in the early to midwinter months.
- Easter cacti flower around the middle of spring through late winter.
If your cactus isn’t flowering, it can be getting too much light or being exposed to too much heat. Here are some suggestions to help you get blooms from yours!
- For a minimum of six weeks, the nights must be at least 14 hours long and the days between 8 and 10 hours. You might need to cover your cactus or relocate it to an area that is exposed to the natural light cycle if you have powerful interior lighting that is on at night.
- When the plant is kept at temps between 50 and 60F, flower buds form best (10 and 15C).
- By subjecting the plant to temps around 45F (7C) for a number of nights in a succession, you can jumpstart the budding process.
- While the plant is in bloom, be sure to water it consistently. The plant may lose its buds if it dries out too much.
- Don’t worry if the cactus loses its buds one winter; the following year it should bloom.
The three primary varieties of “holiday cacti” are as follows:
- Often mistaken for Christmas cacti, Thanksgiving cacti (Schlumbergera truncata) bloom from late October to mid-winter.
- Christmas cacti (S. x buckleyi) flower in the early to midwinter months.
- Late winter to mid-spring is the blooming period for Easter cacti (S. gaertneri).
- Make sure to water your Christmas cactus frequently and keep it cool when the buds on the plant appear ready to open.
- The optimum time to propagate cuttings is late spring when most holiday cacti start to grow after their winter hibernation.
Blossom loss: Your Christmas cactus will probably lose its blossoms if it experiences any kind of stress. As mentioned in the plant care section above, this could be caused by the amount of light or a sudden shift in temperature. Make sure your soil doesn’t become overly dry while buds are developing.
The plant could be vulnerable to mealy bugs and root rot if overwatered. If you experience issues, remove the affected sections and repot the plant in fresh soil.