Christmas Cactus Care and Propagation

Christmas cactus care is very simple and will produce healthy, blooming cactus plants. Christmas cactus propagation will provide you with many new plants to share with friends and relatives. This is a popular houseplant that has beautiful seasonal blooms in white, and shades of red and pink. Christmas cactus is seen at Christmas time along with poinsettias.

"Christmas Cactus Care"

Christmas Cactus are easy to care for.

Christmas cactus, Schlumbergera x buckleyi, grows best in medium light during active growth and bright, indirect light in winter. Ideal temperatures during active growth and blooming are 70-80 degrees. During bloom time, the temperature should not get below 60 degrees. It is tolerant of low humidity (Less than 30 percent). Christmas cactus care involves, not just keeping the temperatures right, but providing slightly moist soil and correct light when needed.

Christmas cactus is magnificent in bloom, but it takes a specific regimen to get it to bloom once you bring it home. It needs a cool resting time with short daylengths to form flower buds. In summer you can put the plant outdoors in a shady spot.

Around mid-September or after, the outdoor temperatures have fallen to 45 degrees at night, bring it indoors into a cool spot (around 55 degrees) and reduce watering for its resting phase. Keep the soil only slightly moist. The plant may develop root rot if overwatered. Continue to keep the plant somewhat dry and cool as it forms flower buds. It may drop flower buds if the growing conditions are changed once buds are set.

Fertilize the plant monthly with half-strength blooming plant food starting in April and continuing until the plant comes indoors in fall. Repot it only every 3 years, since it does better if somewhat pot-bound. The potting mix must be well drained but not as coarse as regular cactus mixes.

Christmas Cactus Propagation

Christmas cactus can be propagated from leaf cuttings. Simply pinch off leaf segments and allow them to dry for a couple of days before inserting them into sterile a sterile soil mix. Another method is to use a plastic storage bag and place segment into soil and keep closed as this allows for humidity to build up within the bag. After roots form, it may be planted into a pot to grow. I have also known of people who try to root them in water, but I have not tried that method at all. When propagating by seed, allow the fruits to ripen, then extract the seeds. Clean the seeds and dry them for a few days, then sow the seeds onto a sterile mix.

Pests include scale, which can be treated with a cotton swab dipped in alcohol, and spider mites and aphids.

You will find hundreds of cultivars of Christmas cactus. The blooms range in colors from reds, white, and many shades of pink. The blooms may also be bicolored, and some may even have double blooms.

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