Monday, November 23, 2009

Christmas Cactus

I love houseplants, and love to have at least one blooming houseplant all through the the year. Christmas cactus are a great pick for November-December blooms!

A little history...

The holiday cacti were originally forest cacti, growing at elevations between 3300 to 5600 feet above sea level in the Organ Mountains north of Rio de Janeiro in southeast Brazil, South America. They are called Flor de maio (May Flower) in Brazil.

Many modern holiday cactus cultivars are hybrids, first bred about 150 years ago in England.


Our Christmas cacti do best when kept in bright/indirect sunlight. We keep them on a 10-day watering schedule: water every 10 days, fertilizing (with Schultz Cactus fertilizer) every other time watered. They like to dry out inbetween waterings. To figure out the best spot and watering schedule for your cacti it will be a bit of trial and error. Cacti kept in an area where they get a draft and more light may need watering more than every 10 days, and cacti kept in spots with less light and little air circulation may not need watering as often as every 10 days. I have found that the most important thing is consistency. Figure out your watering/fertilizing schedule and stick to it.

Some say that Christmas cacti need a bit of a cold snap (6-8 wks. at 50-57 degrees Farenheit) in order to bloom. I have not found this to be the case. As long as the cacti get consistent care, they have always bloomed on time for me!

When the time comes to repot your Chritmas cactus, be sure not to upset the roots too much and use a good quality cactus soil (they like a sandier soil which allows for better drainage).

I have propagated a lot of houseplants, but have never tried Christmas cactus. So, this morning I looked up precisely how to do it and tried it out! I will let you know how it goes!

This is the info I found: Holiday cacti can be propagated quite easily by removing a single segment and plant it a quarter of its length deep in a pot filled with slightly sandy soil (it also helps to put some kind of rooting hormone on the base of the cutting). Place the pot in a well lit area (but not direct sunlight) and keep the soil moist. The cutting should begin showing signs of growth after two or three weeks.

Tough and long-lived, Christmas cactus can be passed easily from one generation to the next, blooming for family gatherings and cheering the darkening winter days.

We hope you all have a Happy Thanksgiving!

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