Christmas isn’t Christmas without a Cactus!

Schlumbergera bridgesiiSchlumbergera bridgesii, the Christmas Cactus

How to make sure your Christmas Cactus flowers again next Christmas.

It’s not just the beautifully decorated Christmas tree and fairy lights that brighten up our living rooms at this time of year. Schlumbergera bridgesii varieties, more commonly known as Christmas Cactus, join the festivities in many living rooms across the country at this time of year.

Unfortunately, come the New Year many Christmas Cacti end up on the compost heap simply because many people are not quite sure how to look after them. By writing this article I hope to help you look after your Christmas Cactus properly and the display of blooms when next Christmas comes around will be even more satisfying for you.

The flowers of Schlumbergera bridgesii varieties are unusual in shape, the petals being swept back as if trying to walk against a winter gale. The flowers vary in colour, emphasising the number of varieties in production. You will find pinks, reds, purples and whites. Flowering begins in November, lasting throughout the festive month and into January.

Christmas Cacti are made up of arching chains of fleshy, toothed edged leaf-like segments.

If you refer to the following guide throughout the year you should be able to make your Christmas Cactus flower again next year:

  1. After Christmas, your Christmas Cactus needs a period of rest. So from late winter and into early spring about 12°C is enough heat. Watering should be the bare minimum, remember those fleshy leaves store water.
  2. During spring, watering can be increased and the plant moved to a slightly warmer situation.
  3. Throughout summer, your Christmas Cactus can be moved outdoors, this will help the plant start to produce flower buds. Be sure to protect against slug and snail attacks though.
  4. In autumn, a couple of months before Christmas, another resting period is required. Treat as per Step 1.
  5. As the flower buds begin to swell and open watering can be increased.

So, it appears that the Christmas Cactus has a lot in common with us humans, it needs a rest before Christmas in preparation for it and a rest afterwards to recover from it!

 
 

Article written by on 12 Dec 2006 and Filed under House Plants.