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Christmas Cactus

Q: Can I plant my Christmas cactus outside?

A: Christmas cactus is in the genus, Schlumbergera, and in Northeast Florida it is most often treated as a house plant rather than a choice for the landscape.  Of course, people are always surprising me and therefore in some micro-climates it may do well.  However, before you plant it in the ground consider it would be at risk should we have a hard freeze.  It is possible to cover the Christmas cactus until the threat of freeze is over, but may not guarantee success.  If it is too large for your house, you might consider propagating it into smaller hanging pots.  Propagation is easily done by leaves or cuttings.  All parts of the plant are poisonous – so don’t eat it.  But it might also be wise to keep it away from any nibbling animal friends or children.  Christmas cactus can tolerate sun to partial shade and most of the time the reason this plant fails is the result of over watering.  Err on the side of “too dry” to avoid root rots.  Be cautious when hanging plants in windows; few of them like the intense heat caused by direct sunlight through glass panes.  Filtered light through trees works best for most house plants.