I love getting meaningful gifts that I can look back and reflect on how it special that item was to someone I care about. My mom went to go visit my grandmother a few months ago and see how they have been handling these crazy times. They live in a pretty isolated area and are fairly safe in their home but, with COVID still being rampant that can start feeling pretty taxing after a while.
When my mom was visiting she told my grandmother about my newest obsession with houseplants. She ended up coming home with all sorts of pots and cuttings from her houseplants. Given the time of year I thought nothing was better then sharing featuring my Christmas Cactus as one of the first plants in my virtual “Plant Tour”.
My grandmother has had her Christmas Cactus for about 40 years she told us. Over the years she has propagated it and gave it the care it needed to keep going. Upon some research I found that there are tons of hybrid versions of this plant out there but if you happen to get some cuttings from an older plant you may just end up with one that is in its purest form. I think that’s pretty neat. Getting a cutting of an old plant may actually mean that I have something that now is difficult to obtain. It’s even more special because it is something that has been cared for and enjoyed for so many years. Now I get to enjoy it as well.
I personally never thought I would love this plant as much as I do but there are many reasons it is so great. This plant is easy to care for – it produces gorgeous blooms and has really interesting new growth that appears.
Christmas Cactus are indigenous to Brazil. It is an epiphyte in rainforests and grows mainly on trees or shrubs and sometimes among rocks in a shady spot. The scientific name of this plant is Schumbergera Bridgessi. This winter flowering plant is a great addition to any household as it is so easy to care for and the blooms it produces are quite beautiful.
- You will want to bring the soil to a state of visual dryness between watering.When it is time to water you may notice some wrinkling on the foliage. Water the plant deeply to where some water runs out the bottom while reducing watering in the colder months. To ensure a healthy root system you can plant your Christmas cactus in a clay pot with well draining soil as it will create a more airy environment for them.
- These plants do grow in a humid environment but, humidity is not so much an issue for them. This is because they are succulent but not like the common ones we know! An important thing to remember is that schumbergera are tropical cactus unlike a-lot of the ones we get that grow in dry. climates.
- Partial sun or shade works just fine for these plants. They will be happy in all types of lights such as Easter, western and northern exposure. Currently I have my cactus in a south western window and it is doing well. My house is surrounded by trees so this is the only side of the house that offers a decent amount of sun throughout the day.
- To get your Christmas cactus to bloom you will need to force it into dormancy. The plant needs 12-24 hours of darkness every day and cool temperatures to enter a flowering period. Moving your cactus to a spot where it will receive at least 12 hours of darkness will help to promote flowering. The ideal temperature for this plant is between 50-55 degrees which may require you to turn down your heat or you can keep the plant near a cool window away from a heater.
- A fun trick some people use to get their cactus to flower at a specific time is to put it in a dark space each night (like a closet) 4-6 weeks before they want it to bloom. You should also reduce watering during this time.This will help force the plant into a dormant state where it will produce blooms for you.
- It is best to prune this plant after it flowers. You can take off any unsightly foliage and dead blooms to prepare it for the growing season. This plant is extremely easy to propagate as well. It grows pads that you can easily unattached from one another and pop the end into some water or medium to root. When we move into warmer months you will see the plant begin to push out new foliage and propagation thriving with the change in weather.
- Feed your plant monthly with water-soluble fertilizer during the spring and summer. When you see your plant forming buds discontinue fertilization until after the cactus is done flowering.
If you are looking for a beautiful and easy houseplant this is a great start. I’m sure you can find one of these in family members home and get some cuttings like I did. I also saw a ton of beautiful ones at Logee’s garden center when I visited a few weeks ago. If you check out their site you can also order some of their other amazing plants online…. and lets be honest its hard to just purchase one thing from their shop!