Christmas and Easter Cactus (Schlumbergera bridgesii; Schlumbergera rhipsalidopsis) AKA Thanksgiving Cactus, Holiday Cactus
The Christmas and Easter cacti are colourful additions to your holidays and beyond. Well-timed for the holidays, the Christmas Cactus blooms (white, pink, red, purple-red, violet and yellow) in December and lasts for several weeks. During the blooming period, the Christmas Cactus’ branches droop.
The Easter Cactus is similar in appearance to its Christmas counterpart, but the Easter Cactus blooms in the spring and its arched branches do not droop as drastically.
Good in the bedroom: both varieties of cacti have the unusual characteristic of removing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen into the atmosphere at night (which is the opposite of most plants, except for the Snake Plant).
Next to the Poinsettia, the Christmas Cactus is the second most popular indoor flowering houseplant for the holiday season.
Semi-sun. Place in any well-lit area, away from a draft or heat/cooling source.
To coax your Christmas Cactus to re-bloom indoors, chill it. Do not put your plant outdoors — instead, about 6 to 8 weeks before you want your plant to flower, place it in a cool or unheated area of the house at 55 to 60 F, for two weeks. After two weeks, place your Christmas Cactus in its original well-lit location. In a few weeks, enjoy the blooms.
OR. If you cannot control the temperature in a room in your house, try this method: place your Christmas Cactus in complete darkness (in a cellar or closet) until buds develop. If you are hoping to have a blooming plant by the holiday season, place your plant in darkness in mid-to-late October.
To propagate, simply root the stem cuttings.
These hardy plants are resistant to pest infestation unless they are stressed or experience a change in environmental conditions, especially during the budding period (buds might drop if stressed).
Water to moisten the soil and let dry between waterings. Feed with a weak concentration of fertilizer every two weeks in summer. Water sparingly in the winter and stop fertilizing so the leaves will mature (and discontinue feeding while flowering). Mist often. Some thoroughly water their plants once every two weeks, and find that this works well. Experiment to see what works best for you, but do not let its soil become “bone” dry — a Holiday Cactus is not a real cactus.
An ideal planting soil is a mix of 1-part potting soil, 2-parts leaf mold and 1-part perlite.