Saturday, December 13, 2008

Christmas Cactus

Molly is seen here with one of her Christmas Cacti which have begun to bloom.

The Christmas Cactus
(Thanksgiving Cactus, Christmas Cactus, Easter Cactus) are composed of several closely related species in the genus Schlumbergera and the species Hatiora gaertneri, (often called "Zygocactus" in older works). They are originally forest cacti, growing as epiphytes at elevations between 1000 and 1700 meters above sea level (3280 to 5575 feet above sea level) in the Organ Mountains north of Rio de Janeiro in southeast Brazil, South America (not to be confused with the Organ Mountains of New Mexico in the United States of America). They are called "Flor de maio" (May Flower) in Brazil.

Many modern holiday cactus cultivars are hybrids between Schlumbergera truncata and Schlumbergera russelliana, first bred about 150 years ago in England.


All of Molly's Christmas Cacti started from a single plant. Holiday cacti can be propagated quite easily by removing a single segment and planting it a quarter of its length deep in a pot filled with slightly sandy soil (it also helps to put some kind of rooting hormone on the base of the cutting). Place the pot in a well lit area (but not direct sunlight) and keep the soil moist. The cutting should begin showing signs of growth after two or three weeks.



The soil should be evenly moist for best growth, but they are intolerant to constantly wet soil and poor aeration. If outdoors, an established plant may only need to be watered every two or three days in warm, sunny weather; or every week in cool, cloudy weather.


Christmas cactus will do best in bright indirect light. Long term direct sunlight can burn the leaves and stunt growth. If taken care of properly, a single planting can last for hundreds of years.


Christmas cactus will create flower buds when subjected to cooler temperatures (10–14°C/50–58°F) for 6-8 weeks.

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