Plant of the Week - Christmas Cactus

I have to stay with the Holiday theme for plant picks, so this week, let’s look at the Christmas Cactus!

Now here is an indoor plant that just keeps on giving year after year, producing it’s most exotic looking flowers (colors include red, rose, purple, lavender, pink, peach, cream and white – which can last 6-8 weeks at cooler temps) on the ends of some very unusual looking foliage, every year from Thanksgiving to Christmas. And did we mention it’s one of the easiest indoor plants to grow? Great looking foliage plant, topped off with Holiday flowers…what more could you ask for?

*There are actually Thanksgiving Cactus (Schlumbergera truncate), Christmas Cactus (Schlumbergera bridgesii), and Easter Cactus (Rhipsalidopsis gaertneri), and they’re actually not like their desert cousins. They grow in the rainforest in Brazil, so keep this in mind when taking care of your plants (water when soil gets close to dry.)

Christmas cactus and Thanksgiving cactus (Schlumbergera hybrids) require cooler temperatures and need to be watered less frequently in the fall for buds to develop. Once flower buds have formed, temperature and watering regime should be increased. After the plant stops blooming, keep it in a cool, sunny location out of direct light. In summer, put it outside in light shade and leave it there as long as possible into the fall to promote new shoot. If you must bring the plant inside before outdoor temperatures decrease in the fall, leave it in a cool, light area in the basement. Place it in a bright location as soon as buds are noticeable. If buds start to drop, it may be an indication of one of three things:

1. the plant may need repotting the light intensity may be too low; or

2. the temperature may be too high. These plants seldom flower well at temperatures above 70°F.

(penn state university)