I feel the earth beneath my feet. I breathe her breath which each inhalation. I live in her bosom.

Schlumbergera bridgesii

"Christmas Cactus"

Christmas Cactus

I had a red Christmas Cactus that died 2012 winter, not absolutely sure why, maybe too cold. I bought a pink one a month or so before that is doing fine.

  • Botanical Name: Schlumbergera bridgesii (hybrid)
  • Family: Cactaceae
  • Subfamily: Cactoideae
  • Tribe: Rhipsalideae
  • Common Name: Christmas Cactus
  • Plant Type: Jungle Cactus, Epiphyte, Houseplant
  • Light: Bright indirect light
  • Water: Let soil dry somewhat between waterings

Keep the Christmas Cactus in bright indirect light but never direct sun. It survives in medium to low light, but flower buds may drop off or may never form at all.

Allow the top 50% of the soil to dry out before watering. Buds fall off of a Christmas Cactus if the soil is too dry. Over-watering leads to root rot.

Feed a Christmas Cactus every two weeks in the spring and summer with an indoor plant food at 50% the recommended strength.

Cool temperatures between 18 to 21°C help the blooms last longer. They like high humidity.

Blooms develop during short days and low temperatures. Starting in early fall, give your plant 12 hours of darkness each day. Keeping it in a cool area, 10 to 13°C, helps the flowers form by Christmas.

Use a rich acidic soil that drains well.

Pruning is important to keep the plant bushy and full. The best time to prune is during the summer months. Pinch off sections of the plant at the joints. This encourages new growth. You can plant the sections you remove and start new plants.

About Schlumbergera

Schlumbergera is a small genus of cacti with six species found in the coastal mountains of south-eastern Brazil. This jungle cactus is an epiphyte in its native environment which means that it grows on other plants and trees, in habitats which are generally shady with high humidity and can be quite different in appearance from their desert-dwelling cousins. Most species of Schlumbergera have stems which resemble leaf-like pads joined one to the other and flowers which appear from areoles at the joints and tips of the stems. Two species have cylindrical stems more similar to other cacti. In Brazil, the genus is referred to as Flor de Maio (May flower), reflecting the period in which they flower in the Southern Hemisphere.

This genus contains the popular house plants known by a variety of names including Christmas Cactus, Thanksgiving Cactus, Crab Cactus and Holiday Cactus, which are Schlumbergera cultivars, and flower in white, pink, yellow, orange, red, or purple. (The Easter Cactus or Whitsun Cactus, which may also be called a Holiday Cactus and has vivid scarlet flowers in the most commonly grown form, is now placed in the genus Hatiora.) The cultivars of Schlumbergera fall into two main groups:

The Truncata Group contains all cultivars with features derived mainly from the species S. truncata: stem segments with pointed teeth; flowers held more or less horizontally, usually above the horizontal, whose upper side is differently shaped from the lower side (zygomorphic); and pollen which is yellow. They generally flower earlier than members of the Buckleyi Group and although common names are not applied consistently may be distinguished as Thanksgiving Cactus, Crab Cactus or Claw Cactus.

The Buckleyi Group contains all cultivars with at least some features clearly showing inheritance from S. russelliana: stem segments with rounded, more symmetrical teeth; more or less symmetrical (regular) flowers which hang down, below the horizontal; and pollen which is pink. They generally flower later than members of the Truncata Group and are more likely to be called Christmas Cactus.

A Christmas Cactus can live for 100 years and be passed on from generation to generation, getting bigger and more impressive each year.

Sources: Houseplant 411 | Wikipedia