If you look for a nice gift to someone special, we recommend this lovely seasonal plant, the Schlumbergera. You probably know both the amaryllis and poinsettia, the favourite Christmas flowers. But let give it a chance to the schlumbergera. Ok this is quite difficult to pronounce, that’s true! But when you know that it’s commonly called Christmas cactus or Thanksgiving Cactus, is it more familiar now? So called because they flower from late November to late January, they give a wonderful Christmas display or gift.
Abundance of flowers
Introduced around the 1850s in Europe, Schlumbergera comes from Brazil where in the wild they grow either on trees or on rocks. They can form huge shrubs with woody bases up to 1,2 m. They flower in white, pink, yellow, orange, red or purple. This succulent thrives during the darker days, you should always remember that the shorter the days, the better the flowers. The plant has strong flat leaves like finger joints, with bent needles and flower buds on them. The buds start to blossom at the end of the autumn until mid winter.
A succulent flower, not a real cactus
The Christmas cactus is a succulent flower that blooms for a long time indoors. It’s a very popular plant with exotic-looking flowers. The name “cactus” can be a trap as not all cacti are native to arid desert climates and require infrequent watering. The Christmas cactus leaves in tropical rain forest and thus needs watering when the top inch of soil in the container feels dry when you touch it.
Is it poisonous to dog and cat?
Some decorative plants, either indoor or outdoor, are toxic to dogs and cats. Most of the time only mild indigestion and discomfort will result but for some cases the toxicity can lead to severe health problems and even death.The good news is that your favourite pets and Christmas cactus can coexist! However if the whole plant is not toxic to dogs, some cats may have stomach irritation because of the fibrous plant material leading to vomiting. The best is to train animals not to sample plants and take preventive measures as other Holiday plants such as poinsettia or mistletoe are poisonous to pets.
Any care tips for a beautiful Christmas cactus?
It’s awesome how long-term your relationship with a Christmas cactus can be! We know that some can live 20 to 30 years. The flowers can bloom for a week.
- Place it in a spot where the temperature is 20°C
- Your plant appreciates light but no direct sunlight in summer
- Watering once a week during flowering
- Never, ever, keep old flowers
- After flowering, respect a “sleep mode” with no water and less light during 1 month
- Only after that one month diet, you can start giving some water again
Note: They prefer humid conditions and homes are often dry. One tip to raise the humidity around your Christmas cactus is to place the pot with its drip pan on top of a small container filled with pebbles. Pour water over the pebbles, but do not allow the water to rise above the bottom of the top layer of pebbles. The water will evaporate, increasing the humidity around the cactus.
Be original with a Christmas cactus to make your friend happy and remembered at Christmas. The schlumbergera is a plant that is available almost worldwide. No time to wait, fill in your Christmas gift organiser with flowers and plants.