Schlumbergera is one of the best alternatives to the poinsettia for holiday decor. At this time of the year, it is easy to find Schlumbergera in your local garden center. I have even found them in the grocery store. If you find Poinsettia’s, the Schlumbergera is somewhere nearby. One secret of this plant is the ease of care versus the Poinsettia. In the midst of the chill outside, this Christmas Cactus blooms with total abandon.
I consider the Schlumbergera the Princess of this season. Did you know that there are many different types of Schlumbergera? I found that there are not only Christmas Cactus but Thanksgiving Cactus, Crab Cactus, and Holiday Cactus….hmmm…the Holiday Cactus is better known as Easter Cactus, due to the bloom time.
There are two major groupings of Schlumbergera – Truncata and Buckleyi. The Truncata group is an early blooming species that encompasses the Easter or Holiday Cactus. The flowers of this cultivar are more upright, instead f hanging down. There is also a difference in the upper and lower leaves of the bloom. The Buckleyi group blooms later, the flowers hang down and are more symmetrical. What we know as Christmas Cactus is generally in this group.
Originally from the tropical climate in Brazil by plantsman Charles Lemaire, the first recorded species was in England in 1852 by Mr. W. Buckley. Christmas Cactus were commonly used as ornamental plants in the heated greenhouses found in England. The late-season flowering was a hit among those that enjoyed new and different plants. At one time, there was another species called russelliana. As breeding of the original three species in the early 1950s created different strains, the older more original strains became extinct.
The care and feeding of what we know as Christmas Cactus is rather simple:
- a small, free-draining container, with free-draining soil with a touch of grit;
- cool, but humid indirect sunlight area. Cooler nights will induce bloom;
- water once a week and mist the foliage. Too much water will cause rotting and bud drop. Too little water will lead to its demise. Wet feet are a definite NO!;
- stop watering around October if you want it to bloom at Christmas. A saucer with pebbles and water below the pot will create the humidity needed for optimal growing conditions;
- Schlumbergera flowers best when it is in a half pot or root bound pot. When transplanting in the Spring make sure that your new pot is not too big.
Schlumbergera or the Christmas Cactus, thrives on casual care. It is easy to share with friends and family.
I can’t wait for the other Schlumbergera to evolve over the holiday season. This year I mixed the colors in my container, however, I might need to increase my collection. It will be amazing to see if I can identify whether it is a Truncata or Buckleyi.
With dreams of Schlumbergera all over my house, I am also dreaming of the holidays! This cactus blooming in winter evokes memories and makes me smile.
Teri, Cottage In The Court
To find out more about Schlumbergera, click hereby