Ten Questions: Christmas Cactus
Okay. Here goes.
01. What is a Christmas cactus?
It is a genus of cactus consisting of six species. It has green leafless stems that are the photosynthesis organs for the plant.
02. Where do they grow?
In the wild Christmas cacti grow in the coastal mountains of Brazil. In captivity they grow everywhere as long as they are taken care of properly.
03. What is the best way to raise a Christmas cactus?
A Christmas cactus is planted in a pot like other houseplants. A couple of months before you want it to bloom you should put it in a cooler room of about 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit. It should get indoor direct lighting during the day and darkness at night. Because it is a tropical plant moisture is vital. Besides watering like the rest of your plants keep a vase or some other container with water close to it. Or you can make a humidity tray using gravel and water. Then place the pot right in the tray. They flower best if they are slightly pot-bound.
04. How will I get it to bloom at Christmas?
Keep the temperature at about 50 degrees. Twelve to fourteen hours of darkness is required. Make sure they are not over-watered, but that there is still plenty of humidity. During the day they need plenty of light. They sort of bloom when they want to but this will help them decide.
05. Where can I get a Christmas cactus?
You can go to Brazil and find them in the wild. Or if you think it might be a pain to get them through customs, most flower shops carry them especially at Christmas.
06. I want to go to Brazil. Where do I look for them?
You would find them either growing in the fork of a tree or growing on rocks.
07. What do the flowers look like?
The flowers are scarlet or fuchsia in color. They might hang downward or remain at a horizontal angle. Some even look like a flower within a flower.
08. What should I do after Christmas?
For about 30 days your plant could use a nice rest. Reduce the amount of watering. Keep it in it's cool room. It make look a little wilted and even drop a few pieces. Let it rest.
09. When will it recover?
March or early April. This is the best time to pinch off dead parts and to shape it a bit.
10. Can I make cuttings?
You bet! Either pinch off sections or you can use scissors. Plant them in moist vermiculite and they should grow well. They could be the start of Christmas gifts for next year.
Christmas cactus is just one more way to celebrate the holidays. I'm wishing joyous holidays for all of you. Merry Christmas.