If you are like me, fond of succulents, I suggest a succulent plant with a Christmas effect. Give yourself a lovely gift that will bloom for the occasion: the Christmas cactus. Drought resistant, will it be hardy enough to survive the winter? Where to grow a Christmas cactus – outdoors or indoors? Everything in this article!
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Christmas cactus outdoors or indoors: why this dilemma?
Inhabiting mostly deserts, cacti store sap in their tissues that saves them in times of drought. However, this does not mean that all representatives of cacti are succulents. Another characteristic is added to Christmas cacti if they come from the tropical forests of Brazil: they are epiphytes. This makes them different from other varieties, because Christmas cacti do not like strong sun and very dry soil. Regular but moderate watering is ideal for this plant. Why are they called Christmas cactus? It’s not just the flowering period from November to February. In my opinion, there is a rather poetic reason: the dazzling cascade of flowers that looks like a firework display. Today, large stores and florist shops are stocked with the three main types of Christmas cactus: Hatiora gaertneri, Schlumbergera truncata and Schlumbergera x buckleyi. Having gotten it for the first time, you’ll want to make it bloom again every year. Is it possible? Of course, you will be rewarded if you consider the nature of this plant. Cactus or no cactus? I had a bad experience with mine. I don’t have a green thumb, but when I “inherited” pots from my mother-in-law, I had to take care of them. I was unfamiliar with it and left the plants where they were.
What is the proper location for the Schlumbergera?
I was watering as usual, once a week. My plant was on a chest of drawers out of direct sunlight. One day, after pouring half a cup of tea into the pot, I heard a certain gurgling sound. So, I was frustrated to find that my Christmas cactus had been overflowing. From then on, I started checking the soil moisture before each watering. If it sticks to my fingers, I don’t water. Today, I am looking for a place that will encourage my plant to bloom. As I don’t have a bathroom with a window, I will choose the kitchen, where the level of humidity is quite high. Also, I will change the pot and make sure it has a drainage hole.
Indoors, the Christmas cactus will feel great at a temperature ranging from 15 to 18°C/59 to 64°F. If you want to have it outdoors, find a shady place for it in the garden or on a balcony where it will withstand 10°C.
How often to water?
I have already pointed out in my experience that once a week is too much. The test to guide you will be touching the soil. Putting an under-drainage tray is a good idea. In this way you will see the excess water and can throw it away before flooding the soil underneath.
If the plant is in blooming period, water it well but without lowering your vigilance.
Very suitable for repotting, the Schlumbergera must branch, and to branch, you must fertilize it every two weeks before blooming. That is to say, from spring to fall. When you notice an abundance of green mass, it’s time to prune. Cut two or three sections from each stem and root in moist potting soil.
As for blooming, the best temperature range is between 10 and 15°C/50 – 50°F. Unfortunately, I learned that late, and my cactus didn’t bloom last year. I now know that to trigger the budding process, the plant must be exposed to a temperature of 7°C/45°F. Wait patiently, watering moderately to avoid drying out. This carries the risk of losing the buds. As happened to my plant! We will see this year, because according to the specialists, it must bloom again.
Why Christmas cactus has soft leaves?
When touching the leaves of the Christmas cactus, you may notice that they are soft. There are two reasons for this condition: excess or lack of water. On the one hand, this means that the soil is too dry and does not pass water to the roots. On the other hand, the too much water may have damaged them and they are rotting. In this case, you will lose the plant. But if there are any healthy offshoots left, repot them to get established and you have a brand new plant.
The leaves may also get soft from direct light. If this is the cause, they will change color to red.
How to take schlumbergera cuttings?
To obtain a cutting, it is necessary to take 2 segments of leaves (not blooming). You need at least 24 hours and in some cases 2-3 days for the cut wound to heal slightly. Put the special seedling-cutting mixed with sand into a biodegradable pot and place the cutting in it. You can use the cutting hormone which is universal or auxins.