The Christmas Cactus has been putting on a gorgeous show of blooms so far this December. This plant is also referred to as a Holiday cactus or Schlumbergera. It can bloom for Thanksgiving, Christmas or Easter. It is a native plant from the rain forests of Brazil and grows on trees rather than in the ground. If you originally purchased your plant close to Christmas, the growers adjusted the growing conditions to force it to bloom then and that is why we call it the Christmas cactus. The plant typically blooms from late Fall to late winter.
Water the plant to keep the soil moist and keep it in indirect sunlight. When buds are forming fertilize every couple of weeks. Cool, dry conditions with shorter days encourage blooming. It is best not to move the plant while it is in bloom as this can cause the buds to fall off. The plant does not like drafts, nor heat blowing on it. Many people have success moving the plant outdoors over the summer months. But not in an overly hot location. I usually just keep mine inside and on the plant shelf in the kitchen. About a month after blooming you can prune the plant by snipping off the last leaf. This should encourage the plant to branch out.
You can propagate a new plant by snipping off 2 or 3 segments. Let them dry for a few hours and then push directly into a small pot, preferable with the same soil as the parent plant. Make sure the first segment is pushed about half way down into the soil. I find this is a slow process but it is always fun to grow your own new plants.
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