The Christmas Cactus is a distinctive member of the cacti family and, as the name suggests, is often given as a present during the festive period and used for decorative purposes around the home.
Unlike most members of the cacti family, the Christmas Cactus does not have spines and is formed of flattened fleshy segments in arching stems. The plant will grow to approximately 30cm and will bloom in a variety of colours, namely bright pink, red, orange or white.
The Christmas Cactus is native to the tropical rainforests of Brazil. It is a popular house plant and will thrive in just about any part of the world if looked after properly.
The Christmas Cactus blooms during the winter period, particularly around Christmas time.
The Christmas Cactus, which is one of six species of cactus in the Schlumbergera genus, is also referred to as the Crab Cactus, Holiday Cactus or Thanksgiving Cactus depending which part of the world you reside in and it is a member of the S. buckleyi family.
By taking Y-shaped cuttings, you can grow your own Christmas Cactus. Keep the cutting out of direct sunlight but in a brightly lit area and water lightly. Within two-four weeks the cutting should begin to grow. Keep out of direct sunlight but in a well-lit area; this will help prevent the stems from burning.
As with most types of cactus, the Christmas Cactus does not require too much water (preferably soft water so as not to mark the stems). However, to keep the plant healthy, only water when the top few centimetres of soil feel dry. Over watering can cause the buds to fall off when in bloom.
Do not move the plant once buds have formed as this too may make them fall off. To encourage growth, use a half strength liquid feed from spring to late summer to keep the plant in good condition all year round.
Did You Know?
The genus Schlumbergera was named after Frederick Schlumbergera, a Belgian horticulturist, around 1900.