- Author: Linda Lewis Griffith
- Editor: Noni Todd
By Linda Lewis Griffith
Planting Zone: Not hardy zones 11 or above. But can grow outdoors as a potted plant if protected in zones 16, 17, 21-24
Size: Up to 3 feet across
Bloom Season: Colorful blooms from November through March
Exposure: Prefers light shade throughout most of the year. Full summer sun can bleach or burn leaves; full winter sun may be acceptable. Does not tolerate frost and must be brought indoors when temperatures dip below freezing.
Pruning Needs: None
Water Needs: Needs regular water but avoid soggy soil. Should be allowed to dry out between watering.
Narrative: These easy-to-grow members of the cactus family are originally from the jungles of Brazil where they live in trees, like certain orchids.
Schlumbergera have long, graceful, segmented branches. Flowers bloom at the end of each of the branches.
There are two slightly different cultivars. Schlumbergera truncata has 1-2 inch sharply toothed segments and blooms around Thanksgiving. S. bridgesii has 1 ½ inch joints that are flattened, smooth, bright green and scalloped. If properly cared for, S. bridgesii faithfully produces hundreds of many-petaled tubular flowers at Christmas time. Both cultivars come in beautiful colors, including shades of red, rose, purple, peach, cream and white.
Schlumbergera bloom in the fall, when evening hours are longer and temperatures drop to 55 degrees for at least six weeks. If conditions aren't optimal, Christmas cacti can still be encouraged to flower by placing them in a dark room or by covering them for 12 hours each night.
All Schlumbergera benefit from heavy feeding and may be fertilized as often as every 7-10 days. They prefer a rich, porous soil with good drainage and 20%-40% perlite.
Schlumbergera are easy to propagate using stem cuttings. Segments naturally separate at the joints. Select healthy strands, allow them to dry for 2-7 days, then plant them or lay them on top of the potting mixture. For best results, take multiple cuttings from the same plant and plant them together to create a fuller look. Rooting has started when new growth appears at the tips of the old stems./h4>/h1>