CHRISTMAS CACTUS CARE AND INFORMATION

 

 

 CHRISTMAS CACTUS CARE AND INFORMATION


While the poinsettia remains the most popular of the holiday plants, a healthy Christmas cactus in full bloom is a great gift idea for that special gardener. They are easy to care for and can be grown indoors throughout the year. The flowers range in color from yellow, salmon, pink, fuchsia and whiteor combinations of those colors.

Common name ~ Christmas Cactus

Scientific name ~ Schlumbergera bridesii

Origin ~ A group of epiphytic cacti native to the South American jungles

Light ~ While the Christmas cactus can adapt to low light, more abundant blooms are produced on plants that have been exposed to high light intensity. Keep your plants in a sunny location indoors. Plants can be moved outdoors in summer, but keep them in a shady or semi-shady location. Too much direct sunlight can burn the leaves. When it's time to bring the plants back inside in the fall, slowly adjust the plants to life indoors by gradually increasing the number of hours they spend indoors each day. If you want to grow it indoors in a south or west window, you should shade the plant with glass curtains. No diffusion of light is needed on the north or east. Many growers move the plants to the broken shade of a porch or patio or plunge the pot in a shady spot in the garden during the summer months. Christmas cactus needs shading from the sun between May and September.

Soil ~ Well-drained soil is a must for Christmas cactus. Use a commercially packaged potting mix for succulent plants or mix your own. The ideal soil for Christmas cactus is composed of equal parts of garden loam, leaf mold and clean coarse sand (not sand from the seashore). Add a quart of wood ashes per bushel of mixture. One-tenth part by bulk of old dry cow manure may be added if garden soil is poor.

Water ~ 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 watering 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.

During the month of October, give the plant no water. Cautiously resume watering in November, but don't let stems get flabby from over watering. If the atmosphere is dry, place pot on a tray of pebbles. Keep pebbles moist with water in the tray.

After plant completes blooming, let it rest by withholding water for six weeks. When new growth appears, re-pot and top-dress with fresh soil. Resume watering to keep soil fairly moist.