Brilliant color blooms of Christmas Cactus are sure to brighten a gardener’s holidays. Christmas cactus is a hybrid that was produced in the late 1840s in England.. It is native to the tropical jungles of the Americas. Christmas cactus is a member of a group sold as Holiday cacti; includes Thanksgiving cactus and the Easter cactus.
Types of Holiday Cactus
Christmas Cactus (Schlumbergera bridgessii) has scalloped stem segments (phylloclades) with no points. Bloom from Thanksgiving to Christmas.
Thanksgiving Cactus (Schlumbergera truncata) is also called the Crab or Yoke Cacti. It has sharper points on its stem segments (phylloclades). Blooms earlier than the Christmas cactus.
Easter Cactus (Rhipsalidopsis gaertneri) flowers usually once a year around April. It has thicker stem segments with no points and has soft bristles at each of its stem segments. This plant is more difficult to grow. It has a habit of shedding its segments if the watering requirements are not just right.
Forcing Christmas Cactus To Bloom
There are two ways to get a Christmas cactus to bloom. One way is to give it an uninterrupted dark period approximately 12 hours each night. Begin the dark treatments mid-October to have plants in full bloom by the holidays. Some people place their plants in a dark closet for 12 hours each night for 6 to 8 weeks or until they see the buds form.
The second way to encourage your Christmas cactus to bloom is to subject it to cooler temperatures of about 50 to 55F degrees. This eliminates the need for the dark treatments. Plants will bloom for the holidays if cool treatments are started by early November.
Plants will keep their blooms longer in cooler temperatures. Keep the plant in a well-lit location away from drafts from heat vents or fireplaces. Drafts and temperature fluctuations can cause flower buds to drop before they have a chance to open. They are not quite as drought tolerant as its desert relatives. They may drop flower buds if the soil gets too dry. Water thoroughly when the top inch or so of the soil feels dry to the touch.
Ideal Locations For Christmas Cactus
Plants can adapt to low light, however, plants bloom better when exposed to more light intensity. Indoors plants can be kept in a sunny location. When grown outdoors keep in a filtered light area. Leaves will turn red if exposed to too much sunlight.
Pruning after blooming will encourage the plant to branch out. Consequently, sections can be rooted in moist vermiculite or loose soil to make new plants.
Looking for a lasting gift for someone, give them a gift that will live for years. A beautiful, blooming Christmas Cactus will brighten their holidays For more information, go to http://gardeningsolutions.ifas.ufl.edu/plants/houseplants/christmas-cactus.html.