“ Holiday cactus. The plant is not a true cactus and is not quite as drought tolerant as the name infers. However, it is a succulent plant and can store a reasonable quantity of water in the leaves. Water thoroughly when the top half of the soil in the pot feels dry to the touch. The length of time between waterings will vary with the air temperature, amount of light, rate of growth and relative humidity. During the summer, water so that the soil is continually moist. When fall arrives, water the plant only well enough to prevent wilting. „
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I used to think Christmas Cacti were quite boring. I've had one of years. But my humble little Christmas Cactus really is quite an exotic specimen. These cacti are related to the Schlumbergera - a genus of tree-dwelling cacti from the Organ Mountains north of Rio de Janeiro in south-east Brazil. In Brazil they are called May Flowers (Flores de maio). In their natural tropical rainforest habitat these cacti grow as epiphytes - plants that grow on the trunks or branches of trees where they are able to take advantage of regular rainfall that flows from the tree tops and drains off the roots of the plant quickly. Schlumbergera are generally only found at higher regions of between 1000 and 1700 meters above sea level.
Christmas Cacti are one of the easiest plants to grow. They will survive long periods of drought and unless you're really careless, it's very hard to over-water them. They usually flower between November and March, as long as they have been grown well during the summer by keeping the soil moist and by leaving them in quite cool temperatures. A little plant feed from time to time also helps. Indoors they should be kept in a naturally well lit area, but never put them on a windowsill that receives direct sunlight.
According to the experts, new flower buds are encouraged if the plant is left in at least 12 hours of uninterrupted darkness in late summer and autumn every night. In order to achieve this, I've never resorted to placing a cover over the plant as some suggest, but instead have always relied on natural light. I think the problem is that some people will leave their plant close to an artificial light source that is switched on in the evening. This may thwart flower development. Centrally heated rooms are also a bad idea. A warm atmosphere in winter will stultify flower buds and reduce the period of bloom. At the other extreme, temperatures below 10oC may also prevent flowers from developing. The ideal temperature for these plants ranges between 10oC (50oF) and 18oC (65oF).
Flower buds will form as days shorten and the evenings get darker. I still find it rather uncanny how these plants develop buds and then go into full bloom in time for Christmas. I have had one plant now for over ten years and it never fails to do this. The Christmas Cactus benefits from a resting period after flowering and should be kept in a cool environment during this period with the soil kept quite dry. In the long term, this is a plant that does seem to possess eternal properties, they are truly everlasting plants.
It's very easy to take cuttings from your Christmas Cactus. Just cleanly break off a healthy leaf segment and stick it a quarter of its length deep in a pot filled with slightly sandy soil. I find normal compost works fine. Cuttings are best taken in Spring. You can add some root powder to the base of the leaf segment in order to encourage growth, but I have taken cuttings many times without using root powder and have never had a problem. You're bound to see these plants being sold somewhere at present - in recent years I've seen them on shelves at M&S and even in Aldi for about £3.
I must have been doing something right this year, because my Christmas Cactus plant now has more flower buds on it than ever before. I think it's probably because of an evening I never have artificial light switched on in the room where it is situated, plus the fact that, now in winter, my flat is always freezing cold.
Have a Merry Blooming Christmas!
Christmas cactuses are lovely house plants which produce a lovely flower from early december to late january.
The flowers on these cactuses differ in colour on different plants but each plant has only one colour of flower on them. The colours are usually yellow, pink, purple or white.
my nan has always had these in her bathroom and they flower every year. She brought me two of them 3 years ago when they were in flower and they looked lovely, one purple and one white.
I keep them on my livingroom window sill so that they get lots of light and water them as soon as the soil in the top of the pot feels dry as they are not very good at tolerating drout like other cactuses.
I have a soil/ sand mix in my pot with good drainage holes in the bottom.
All of the above i have done the same as nan does with hers but mine didnt flower the year after and my nans did, i couldnt understand this untill nan asked me where i had moved them to, moved them i didnt know i had to.
Silly me, my christmas cactus didnt flower because i had got to put them somewhere cooler and with more hours of darkness to stimulate a winter for them before they would flower.
Last year i moved them into the kitchen at the end of september as the dark nights began and to my shock at the begining of december they began to bloom, i was so happy, i thought they never would but i had lovely flowers from early december right through untill the end of january. I have now moved them back into the living room for the summer and hopefully i will get flowers again next year.
Firstly, a big "thank you" to everyone who's posted listings about Christmas Cactus - I've picked up loads of tips about caring for them from your advice.
I've got a huge Christmas Cactus that my partner inherited from his parents. They'd had the plant for about 15 years before giving it to him as a house-warming present when he was 19 - he's 46 now, so it's at least 42 years old!!!
The poor thing has been through the mill over the years - it's been moved from house to house, was left in a garage for 2 years, and then was thrown down 2 flights of stairs by my partner's ex wife!!! - however, it's survived and is starting to flower again this year with the most wonderful deep cerise coloured flowers.
Measuring the full span of the leaves/growth, the plant is now about 3 foot by 3 foot across and has reached a height above the pot of nearly 2 feet - a gorgeous specimen.
I took cuttings 2 years ago and all of them now live in various relatives houses and are happy and healthy.
I've also seen the plants in their native habitat when I travelled in Brazil for 6 months about 7 years ago. To see these beautiful plants growing in the nooks and crannys of larger trees was really a sight to behold. I understand that they are naturally pollinated by Hummingbirds, but whenever I saw them they were being attacked by wild Toucans who seemed to love the flowers as food!
Our plant now lives on top of an old chest directly infront of our south-facing bay window, although we have wooden slatted blinds that I keep tilted upwards to avoid direct sunlight. What I have found is that the plant prefers to be showered rather than watered direclty onto the soil. During the Spring and Summer months, it's lifted very carefully into the bathroom and onto the shower tray (a two-man job as the plant and pot are so heavy!) every 3 weeks or so. I then put the shower onto it's lowest pressure setting and at a tepid temperature and give the plant a quick "once-over" then allow it to drain for an hour or so before lifting it back to it's home. As we're in a very hard water region, I do have to wipe the leaves clean afterwards or I've found they get limescale marks on.
To all owners of this wonderful plant, I wish you the best of luck with it - the time spent caring and nurturing it are fully rewarded when you see the amazing show of it in full bloom.
It seems silly to say that I am sentimentally attached to my Christmas Cactus but let me explain why. When I was a child my Grandmother meant everything to me. Nana loved plants both inside and outside the house. Her garden was always immaculate with rows of pansies, roses and piles of lavender. Inside, spider-plants wept from every corner and an African violet always adorned the coffee table. My favourite of her houseplants though was the Christmas Cactus. Every year I would ask, 'But how does it KNOW it's Christmas?? To which Nana would smile and reply 'Because I talk to it every day and this is it's gift'. When Nana died my Mum gave me the Christmas Cactus which had lived on Nana's living room windowsill. Nana died in 1986 and her plant was still going strong until two years ago - how's that for longevity! It took a great deal of courage to finally admit that despite the fact that it was still growing, my not so little plant was looking decidedly manky. The stems were woody, leaves dull and it seemed basically tied of flowering. Had I known better I would have pruned it each year to keep the life in it. Not to be beaten however I took 3 cuttings from the original. I made sure they looked reasonably healthy and took them from the newer growth. Propagation seems quite simple with this plant. Ever the aspiring gardener, I just shoved the cuttings in some potting compost, gave them a drizzle of water and left them too it. All of them took well and now I have new plants on my window sill (the others having been given to friends). Technically when taking cuttings you should make sure that you don't over water them as this can cause them to rot. That said - over-watering is rarely a problem in my house! The Christmas Cactus (posh name Schlumbergera) is originally from the jungles of South America where it grows in trees. The roots settle within the bark and the plant lives off whatever nutr
ients and rainfall make their way through the canopy. This plant is a short day flower plant which basically means it flowers when the days become shorter. This is a non prickly cactus and it also doesn't have any leaves! Apparently the green you see is actually stem growth. In most cacti the leaves have evolved into spines and as this doesn't have spines - it doesn't have leaves either. I have never had a problem with my plants coming into flower. I am offered a profusion of buds every year. The flowers have little scent but they are incredibly beautiful - white and pink. There are some nice photo's of the flower here http://garden.danen.org/danen/cc/index.shtml What I have noticed however is that they seem to come into flower earlier and earlier so this year I am going to attempt to delay them a little by keeping them in the light. Generally with flowering you need to be aware that the buds form according to the amount of darkness rather than light. If you have a problem plant that doesn't flower it may be because it's receiving too much light. Around mid October, cover the plant from evening to morning or put it in a cupboard overnight. Try to give it at least 12 hours darkness. This will force the buds to start forming. Once the buds have formed you can leave the plant in its normal place. Don't over water at this time. The flowers are quite fragile and I've noticed that sometimes if I have handled them or turned the plant some of the flowers drop off. Apparently I have since found that turning new buds away from light can mean that they use so much effort to find the light again that they just die. I'll try and remember that this year. After the plant has flowered, you can do a little pruning to encourage new growth and direct how the plant looks. Of course you can plant the bits you prune off and start lots of new plants that you can give away as gifts the following Xmas :-) Despite being a cacti (which makes me think of desert), the Christmas Cactus does need water - afterall the jungle is a humid place. When I haven't watered mine enough the stems start to look wrinkled and the whole thing looks like it's squealing. After flowering and up until the end of Summer make sure you keep the plant well watered (but not over watered). After this time towards flowering water more sparingly. Some gardeners say in the six weeks up to flowering not to water at all but well - that just seems a bit cruel for me! My cacti sit on a south facing window so tend to get a lot of sun. Really they should be in semi-shade but mine don't seem to have suffered where they are. In Summer I try to remember to put them outside as I do with many of my houseplants to get some air. One thing this plant really doesn't like is drafts and artificial heat. Keep the plant in a pot that is just the right size. It is better to be a little pot-bound than to have too much space in the pot. Because of the way the stems grow it looks great in a hanging basket. As I said above - the flowers on my plant are pink and white but apparently they do come in other colours too - red, purple, orange and white. This is a lovely plant to have in the house or to give as a gift. It's easy to take care of and very pretty. Since reading up on it for this opinion it seems as though longevity is one of it's known attributes - it could quite easily live out it's owner! For me it will always just be Nana's plant. When I see the flowers forming I can still see her smile.
I have two Christmas Cacti, one of which has lasted me two and a half years and the other six months. Having read the other two opinion's on this plant I felt urged me to tell you about these tough and gorgeous plants of the South American Jungles. I am by no means an expert gardener, but I am quite proud of the way these plants have continued to develop with my care. Usually I forget about plants and they end up perishing. With cacti this isn't too much of an issue as they require minimal attention. I was given my first Christmas Cacti as a gift. Seeing this plant flower the following year impelled me to buy another from Sainsburys Homebase for under £5.00. Each of them is planted into a blue flowerpot that has no holes for drainage. This doesn't matter as when watering them I must only wet the topsoil. Unfortunately these plants do not live up to their name. The first one I had was given to me at Christmas and was flowering at the time, the following year it flowered in October and then had another bloom in March. My newest is flowering now! Where's the logic? It is possible to manipulate the plants in to blooming by adjusting room temperature and by planting them outside in summer then bringing them in at autumn to stress the change in seasonal temperature. So what do they look like? Very similar to the picture that Dooyoo have posted at the head of this category. Can you imagine green oblongs all joined together with spikes coming out? This is the best way I can describe the leaves. They will grow to a length just longer than the edges of the pot you plant them in, for instance mine stretch for about nine inches. Through the seasons new oblongs will grow on the end and about a month before flowering the ends of these strips change colour from green to a deep red. Small buds then protrude before blossoming into a magnificent fanfare of colour. The flowers seem
to grow out of each other. Initially I thought it was just one flower, then another would grow from it's middle, and another and another until I had about two inches of bloom dangling down from the main spiky leaves. A really beautiful sight! It is best not to move the cacti when this blooming process is underway. Even lifting them up to water them can affect the amount of flowers you have, and it is during this season that the plants are at their most temperamental. Buds will also drop off if the plant has received too much water. I water mine every two weeks unless the soil is particularly dry. They are on a window ledge that faces out towards the sun all day. I keep them in the same place during the winter months but cut down on the watering until about once every four weeks, and even then I only give them a smidgen of water, just enough to wet the soil. My next step is to take some cuttings and reproduce by planting the small plants into potting compost. I have been given to understand that this is a very easy but slow process but I'll have to let you know if this is true when I have the results. I will do this when re-potting my eldest; this will have to be done in Spring 2003 now as I have missed my chance for this year. Although I have described the leaves as spiky, they do not pierce the skin when touched and are therefore acceptable to have around near children. If I do forget to water them their leaves start to shrivel at the ends, but they quickly recover and it hasn't stopped mine flowering. Recommended as an attractive low maintenance indoor plant. Christmas Cactus / Schlumbergera bridesii Available in Cerise, White, Yellow, Salmon and Light Pink. Most flowers are a mixture of two of the above. Off topic Footnote: Good Luck to ENGLAND today who have just kicked off against Sweden in the World Cup. I'll be off to the pub
soon to watch the rest of the match and start the celebrations of my birthday today!
I like Christmas cactus, I have several of these easy to keep plants. They range in colour from pure white to red, with many shades of pink in between, some are double some are semi double. In appearance they are fairly plain, bright green, fleshy segmented leaves. They can get fairly bushy as they get older. The "Christmas Catctus" has jagged edges to each leaf, normally, these can flower anytime from October to January. How I sometimes get mine to flower near Christmas is to stop watering them from from about February to August, and then to start feeding and watering as you would normally. These are quite tolerant of neglect, but do not seem to like direct sun or standing in water, and they are not, as with most other fleshy leaved plants, frost hardy. They should not be left between the curtains and window in Winter. When the buds appear they must not be turned or moved as this caused the buds to drop off, very unnerving thing to see. My plants love living in my conservatory in the front of the staging out of the direct sun. If you want to increase your stock this is very easy. All you do is to snap off a piece of two to three segments and put it in a pot of universal compost, the right way up of course, water and it should root and grow fairly quickly. I usually put five or six in a four inch pot to get a bushy plant straight away. The plants often sold as Easter Cactus are very similar but usually have rounded leaves without the jagged bits, the care is basically the same but, I have never been able to get mine to flower at Easter after purchase, possibly because it is a moveable feast and I have not got the non-watering timing right yet. These are very pretty, happy little, or not so little, plants, and are very popular, long living, gifts at Christmas, and for selling at car boot sales and fetes. No home should be without at least one.
Christmas cactii provide a shot of colour and a welcome break from the amarillis at this inhospitable time of the year. Their unusually shaped leaves and dramatic flowers provide an interesting festive table decoration or complement to the christmas tree. The flowers are startlingly bright and surprisingly luxuriant, sprouting from the rather quiet green leaf stems. I have two of these plants, which i received as a gift over three years ago and which have travelled across the country when i moved house this summer. Despite being rather ill - treated in terms of late repotting and being left out in the cold rather too long they never fail to flower spectacularly. Buds are evident from around mid - November and full bloom can be expected for your turkey and christmas pudding.