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Turns out there's another plant we can associate with Christmas other than poinsettias. There's a special plant called schlumbergera buckleyi that only blooms during the Christmas season. Its common name is the Christmas cactus, you might have even heard it referred to as a holiday cactus. Looks like this plant and I have something in common. We thrive during the holiday season!
This beautiful plant only has one bloom time a year. Christmas cacti are going to be a popular houseplant during the holiday season. Whether you notice it or not, holiday cacti are probably selling left and right at your local garden center.
You're probably wondering how holiday cacti can make it through late winter to early spring. Since it's native to the rainforests of East Brazil, the Christmas cactus can withstand cooler temperatures and high humidity. A true tropical plant! This means your house might be the perfect temperature for your Christmas cactus plant to thrive.
What Are Some Christmas Cactus Care Tips?
Costa Farms recommends that you water your Christmas cactus once the top inch of the potting soil dries out. (Repeat as needed.) As for sunlight, direct sunlight is too harsh on your holiday cactus, but it still needs bright light. Instead of placing it in direct sun this fall or winter, keep your Christmas cactus indoors for bright indirect light. Keeping them indoors is very helpful since they thrive in 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit.
Although this plant does love cooler temperatures and can't handle direct light, too many hours of low light can also be detrimental to your Christmas cactus. However, 14 hours of darkness is needed for flower buds to start new growth. The temperature needs to be within 50-55 degrees for the flower buds to form. New growth can happen throughout the year, but only the buds form in the cooler months.
A well-draining soil is also helpful in maintaining a healthy holiday plant. Excess water is normally the cause of root rot. A succulent potting mix and a pot with drainage holes or a tray of pebbles will do the trick to avoid overwatering. You will notice that one small pot may produce white flowers, but the other will produce red or pink. Colors do vary, but each Christmas cactus will be vibrant and cheery to match your Christmas decor.
Unfortunately, Christmas cacti are susceptible to fungus gnats, aphids, and mealybugs. First, let the soil dry out to kill off the eggs, and then use insecticides to control your houseplant pests.
There's Also A Thanksgiving Cactus and Easter Cactus
That's right. Forget sunflowers and red carnations for a second. The Thanksgiving cactus has pointy edges. When you get your cacti, get a feel for the leaves. Christmas cacti have scalloped edges, and Easter cacti have rounded edges. Care is typically the same for each holiday plant.
Many people choose to prune once a year and repot their plants after their blooming season has ended. Save your poinsettias for the Christmas tree and let your Christmas cacti take the spotlight this season.