Christmas Cactus is a cactus plant that gets beautiful during the winter. In the coldest months of the year, many beautiful colored flowers bloom from it, ranging from pink to white to red, lilac, and yellow. All about Christmas Cactus Care
It is one of the most durable cactuses since in a pot it has a life of between 3 and 10 years.
Besides being relatively easy to care for, it can be reproduced quickly and quite easily.
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Christmas Cactus Care
The Christmas cactus, (Schlumbergera truncata or Zygocactus truncatus), is a native plant of Brazil, which lives in the warm and humid forests in the trunks of the trees. It is, therefore, an epiphyte plant that grows in places where direct sunlight does not reach. For these reasons, it requires more water than most succulents (remember to let the soil dry out before watering), and thrives better than them indoors.
Indoors Christmas Cactus Care
The room must be bright, but the plant must be kept away from air currents.
Pot: it is preferable to use a mineral substrate, such as volcanic sand. But if it is not possible to obtain it, also the universal substrate mixed with perlite in equal parts will be useful.
Outdoor Christmas Cactus Care
It should be placed in semi-shade, in an area where it does not get direct sunlight.
Garden: the soil must have good drainage, otherwise the roots will rot.
It is a plant that does not resist the cold or frost. Due to its tropical origin, the minimum annual temperature must be 59°F (15ºC) or higher. However, if it is protected, it can endure up to 32°F (0°C), but not without damage.
Watering Christmas Cactus
Watering should be moderate, but always ensure that the soil or substrate is completely dry before watering again. Therefore, on average you should water once a week in winter, and about two or three times every seven days the rest of the year. However, if you have it in a pot, it is important not to put a plate under it; this way, you will prevent it from rotting.
As it flowers in winter, it is interesting to fertilize it throughout the year, especially from summer. To do this, you must use a specific fertilizer for cactus, liquid, following the indications specified on the product packaging since there may be a risk of overdose.
Coffee grounds on Christmas cactus is a good option to fertilize.
If your Christmas cactus is getting too big, you can always prune it in the spring. Use scissors previously disinfected with alcohol or other disinfectants, and reduce the length of the stems as much as you consider necessary. Do not worry if you prune too much, as it is a plant that will grow back well.
Pests and Diseases
It is very resistant, but snails and slugs seriously damage it by eating its stems. To avoid it, you can keep your plant protected with molluscicides.
On the other hand, if we talk about diseases, we have to control the watering and NOT spray their leaves. Excess humidity can weaken it, to the point that any virus, fungus, or bacteria could kill the cactus. In fact, during the rainy season, or if there is a suspicion of overwatering, it is highly advisable to treat it with a fungicide, such as copper or sulfur powder applied to the surface of the substrate.
How to Propagate Christmas Cactus
The ideal time to multiply our Christmas Cactus is in the spring, but it can be done during the summer. If we live in an area with a mild climate, without frosts or very weak, we can also do it in autumn.
1- The first thing to do is to cut segments of the leaves that we like the most. These have to be healthy and strong, otherwise, they will have more difficulties to get ahead.
2- Then, we let them dry for 24 hours by placing them in a dry place without direct light.
3- The next day, we plant them in pots by nailing them in a vertical position with vermiculite or pumice for example, and a little bit moist.
4- That’s it! In a couple of weeks, they will start to take root.
If you want, before planting them in the pot you can impregnate the base with rooting hormone powder, or with some homemade rooting agent. This way, you will have more possibilities to produce your roots.
Christmas Cactus vs Easter Cactus
The key difference between Christmas and Easter cacti is the time when they bloom; the Christmas cactus blooms in the Christmas season, while the Easter cactus blooms in February.