Christmas Cactuses make popular and colorful houseplants, producing blooms for the holiday season. They have smooth round edges on the foliage, unlike the Thanksgiving cactus that usually has jagged leaf edges.
Both are members of the Schlumbergera genus and need cool temperatures to set their buds. Night temperatures between 55-60F degrees are best. Longer hours of darkness at night (for example, 13-16 hours) also stimulate flowering. The earlier they experience the cool temperatures, the sooner the plants will flower. So, keep these plants on a cool windowsill or on a porch to help those buds along.
Conversely, if you want to postpone flowering, keep the plant in warmer rooms of the house where the lights remain on in the evenings.
There has been so much hybridizing, that the differences between a Thanksgiving and a Christmas cactus have become blurred, as there are hundreds of cultivars with bloom times that fluctuate all through the holiday season. It therefore seems reasonable to refer to them all as Holiday Cactuses nowadays.
Actually, they are not even cactuses but epiphytes, or air plants, native to the humid jungles on the coast of Brazil. If you buy one in bud, find a cool spot when you bring them home, by a window perhaps, so that the buds won’t drop off.
They make wonderful gifts, and the colors are gorgeous, so pick up a few of these affordable plants at the grocery store or florist.
Note: If summering a cactus outdoors, take it in after one day of continuous rain or it will rot in the pot. To take a cutting, twist (not cut) a 2-3-inch piece and stand up in a new pot of soil. Actually, a number of pieces in a pot will produce a fuller plant. NEVER divide a cactus; always start new plants.
This is Moya Andrews, and today we focused on holiday cactus.