This blog post marks my first update on a particular plant. Last year I posted some information on seasonal plants and some pictures of my seasonals in bloom, including my Amaryllis and "Christmas Cactus." Once again, it is that time of year and my cactus is covered in tiny buds.
[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="350" caption="My Christmas cactus buds"][/caption]
As you can see, my cactus doesn't look too good this year. I sat it outside a little early in the Spring and I think it actually froze one night, but was able to hang on.
About a year ago, a friend of mine left for Ireland to live for a year or two. She left her plants behind with me (which is fun) and her big, healthy Christmas Cactus is also blooming. Hers looks much better than mine:
[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="497" caption="My friend's Christmas cactus in bloom"][/caption]
I would be remiss if I didn't talk a little about this plant and its correct identification here. The Christmas/Thanksgiving/Easter/Holiday Cactus has been called lots of names. And there are actually about four or five different species from the genus Schlumbergera that are labeled with this common name. Two other genera are commonly called Name-Your-Holiday Cactus - Hatiora and Rhipsalis, both of which are less common. Both of my plants are from the genus Schlumbergera, although I have not tried too hard to identify which species. I wouldn't be surprised if they are two different species, but they might be the same one.
They are very easy to care for and very easy to bring to bloom. Last year, my wife read some information about bringing them to bloom - putting the plant in a cold room (our garage), allowing it about 12 hours sunlight, 12 hours dark, and putting a glass of water next to it to increase the humidity slightly. It worked great. This year I think both plants beat us to the punch, putting out buds before I remembered to put them in the garage.
During the summer I leave them both on my back porch, which receives dappled sunlight most of the day and water them infrequently - about once a week or less.
They are also very easy to propagate. Simply pinch off a section of plant and put it in dirt. Viola - You have a new plant!
[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="350" caption="A Christmas cactus I started"][/caption]