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Christmas Cactus

Botanical Name
Schlumbergera bridgesii
Min Zone
10
Max Zone
12
Height
6 to 12 inches
Width
1 to 2 feet
Flowers
Seasonal: red, purple, pink, white
Light
Bright, indirect light
Soil
Moist, well-drained, humusy, slightly acidic
Planting & Care
  • The true Christmas cactus has small segments with smooth edges
  • Water the soil enough to keep the soil slightly moist, but not too wet to avoid root rot
  • Fertilize with a dilute solution (25% of label rate) of flowering houseplant fertilizer with each watering. Stop fertilizing in September to reduce growth and to help stimulate bud formation and strong stems to support blooms.  Resume fertilizing after the plant is done flowering.
  • Begin forcing Christmas cactus to rebloom in Late September or early October. Provide plants with 10 hours of light and 14 hours of total darkness each night. Move plants to an unused closet or room each night. Even a reading light or streetlight can interfere with the dark treatment and delay flowering. Or cover the plant with a cardboard box to keep out any artificial light. Cool night temperatures and slightly dry soil help stimulate bloom. Continue dark treatments until the flower buds form. Then move to an area for everyone to enjoy. Each missed or interrupted dark period delays the blooms by one day. Don't give up if this happens to you. While lovely over the holidays, poinsettia's colorful bracts are sure to brighten any winter day.
  • Avoid low humidity, sudden changes in temperature or light and soil that is too dry.  All these are common causes of bud drop.
Problems
Lack of flowering, bud drop, root rot, mealybugs, scale, mites, aphids
Varieties
  • Thanksgiving cactus (Schlumbergera truncata) - distinguished from Christmas cactus by its toothed or jagged segments, requires the same care as Christmas cactus
  • Easter cactus (Rhipsalidopsis gaertneri) - sets flower buds in early spring as the days start to lengthen, requires a dry period to initiate flower buds, from October to November reduce light and water enough to prevent the soil from completely drying out

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