Crab Cactus, Christmas Cactus, Easter Cactus, or Thanksgiving Cactus whatever you call it will (probably) have to do with when it blooms. They are ALL Schlumbergera bridgessii which is MUCH too hard to pronounce, to say nothing about spelling! So any title you choose to give it will work!
They come in many flower colors, sizes, and leaf shapes, but they are popular enough that even the greenest (pun intended) of gardeners can identify them!
I bought a white one last year, in full and massive bud for a little plant.
It was dirt cheap (no pun here!) since it was past the season (whatever season that might have been, knowing this plant). I picked it up at the local grocery store for about $7.00! I couldn’t resist, especially since I’ve never owned a white one. Actually, when it blooms it has a blush of pink. So much for white! But it was very pretty, and still is. However, this year instead of about 30 flowers it only has 5.
I’m sure it’s because it was raised (before I got it) in a greenhouse, where on my shelf it doesn’t get much sun at all.
My purpose for this post today is to help all of you who have one of these Schlumbergera bridgessii treat them so they give you as much pleasure as possible.
- Sun exposure should be moderate.
- Temperatures should be 60*-70* which is perfect for a home environment. Note: most bud drop is caused by temperatures being too high, or light being too low.
- Humidity should also be moderate.
- Fertilizing should be done when it’s in a growth period, which is commonly between April and October. A complete indoor plant fertilizer will be fine. Less is more as far as strength!
- Watering-it should be moist when in a growth period, but NEVER allow the soil to be WET! When it’s “resting”, cut back on the water, only watering when it’s dry.
- Propagation-can be easily accomplished by cutting a section (at a joint) of more than 2 or 3 segmented stems, after letting them dry out for a few days, root them either in water, or damp sand. Once they are rooted they can be planted in a peat based compost, or potting soil.
- Resting Period is after they bloom. At that point they need to have less water; cooler temperatures; darker location and perhaps a summer vacation outside in a sheltered spot, hopefully safe from snails. This can be difficult to offer a plant for many people, meaning that blooms may not be as prolific. I’m sure that is what happened to mine! We live in a small apartment with limited exposure to sun on the window space. It did NOT get outside this summer-next summer it will!!! I’d check the soil every two weeks or so in our Pacific Northwest climate to be sure it doesn’t get TOO dry. They can stay outside until temperatures drop below 50*.
- Blooming Period-as soon as buds appear, cut back on the water, and don’t allow the temperature to drop below 55*.
So, there you have it. I hope all these tips help you deal with Grandma’s Christmas (or whatever) Cactus. It shouldn’t die on YOUR watch if you pay attention to all the advice I’ve given you here.
Maybe this is the year to make cuttings for next Christmas and give each family member their own piece of that family “heirloom”! Enjoy!
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My book, “A Year in My New England Garden”, can be a wonderful way to share the fun of gardening with your friends and neighbors!
The tiny stories will make you smile about the adventures of gardening in New England, while the calendar in every monthly chapter, will help ANY gardener-no matter WHERE they/you live! It addresses gardening chores for the vast majority of the United States, except perhaps the deep south.
The book is primarily a gardening calendar with chores listed in a chronological manner so you’ll know exactly what to do, and WHEN!
It’s cost is less than $10.00, so it makes a great small gift, perfect for taking along for a hostess who loves gardening…or is still learning the “finer arts of a green thumb”!
I hope you’ll give it a try!
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