The Gift That Keeps Giving
Legend has it there are Schlumbergera, better known as Christmas or Holiday cactus that become family heirlooms passed on from generation to generation. The gift that keeps giving. I know this to be true and it creates pressure for those receiving the inheritance. You don’t want to be the one breaking the cycle of care for the beloved family species. In the wild, the species of Schlumbergera grow either on trees (epiphytic) or on rocks making them very different from what you would normally consider a cactus. The stems are composed of segments. The segments are strongly flattened cladodes which means a flattened leaf-like stem with “wings.” The modern genus Schlumbergera is credited to Charles Lemaire in the mid 1800’s. It is named after Frédéric Schlumberger, who had a collection of cacti at his chateau near Rouen France.
Read the captions on the following pictures for my best advice on care for a Schlumbergera or Holiday (Thanksgiving/Christmas/Easter) Cactus.
Considering this plant thrives in a Brazilian rain forest setting, it is accustomed to having a bit of a covering from the sunlight. This includes in summer when you have it outside, filtered shade is best.
It does best in a daytime temperature of about 70 degrees and a nighttime temperature of 60 degrees. Keep away from heat sources (heat register and fireplace) can you say Brazilian Rain Forest?
Watering. Yes the plant needs water however the tendency of most people will be to OVER water it. Being an epiphyte the plant roots if they remain wet will rot. The roots are smaller proportionately than the plant itself giving less margin for error (wet soil). Repot into a good well drained cactus succulent soil for best results.
The initiation of flower buds on the Schlumbergera is triggered by both temperature and day length (shorter days of fall). If it receives more than 12 hours of light in a day, it will not bloom. The vernal equinox occurs on Sept. 21, so all days after that date have less than 12 hours of light triggering flowering. Plants also respond to the cooler days. After exposure to either cool temperatures or short days for six weeks, flower buds will appear.
The plant should be fertilized in spring (onset of longer days) and its growth cycle. You can continue to feed it in summer like you feed your flowering annuals. Discontinue feeding when the shorter days return and initiation of buds.