Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera bridesii) is a cactus native to the South American jungles. The flowers bloom once a year and come in the color of fuchsia, yellow, salmon, pink and white, and sometimes will even have a combination of the colors.
A Christmas cactus makes very beautiful Christmas decorations and they make great gifts. These plants bloom once a year producing beautiful flowers. These plants are different from other cactus and succulents. These cacti require more water and they don’t adapt well to drought conditions. These cacti are a tropical plant.
They require sunlight and the blooms last longer with cooler temps so it’s best to keep these plants away from heaters, fireplaces, radiators, furnace ducts, and other heat sources. Place the cactus in a sunny location while indoors and if outdoors during the summer, find a place that has a sun/shade mix to prevent the plant from getting burned.
Watering this type of cactus is sometimes a problem because people tend to treat these the same as they would a regular desert cactus. This type needs more water than one of the other types of cactus. The other thing that happens is people over water and then causes the plant to begin rotting at the roots.
The best way to be sure your plant is getting just the right amount of water is to wait until the soil is dry on the top and still a bit moist toward the bottom. Then water the plant until the soil is saturated. Drain off any excess water that accumulates on the bottom. Then do not water again until the top half of the soil feels dry to the touch again.
Well-drained soil is very important that is why you should purchase potting soil that is designed for cacti. If you can’t find any that is made for cactus you can mix two parts regular potting soil with one part sand.
In order to ensure your cactus will bloom in time for Christmas, you will need to give the cactus a rest period so you will want to cut back on the watering leaving the soil only partly moist. Allow at least 14 hours of darkness for the plant until the buds begin to form. Once the bud form they can take from 10 to 12 weeks to fully bloom stop watering the plant beginning in October then begin watering again in November.
Make sure the air has enough humidity so the buds don’t dry up and fall off. After the blooms fall off, you can prune your cactus so that it bushes out instead of becoming vine-like and unmanageable. You’ll also find that the cactus will bloom better next year afterward.
As new growth appears in the spring, put a diluted solution of liquid houseplant fertilizer 2 to 3 weeks after the start of the new growth. The cactus should be repotted every 2 to 3 years depending on how depleted the soil is. Repotting should be done in the spring, but if the plant is at risk of dying because of its a potting condition, then repotting can be done at any time of the year as needed.