It’s not enough to love your Christmas cactus, you also need to know how to care for it.
Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera bridgessii), which usually blooms in late autumn or winter, is one of the most popular houseplants, as it looks great in any prominent place in the apartment. During the Christmas season, it is one of the indispensable accessories for homes covered in festive decorations.
Caring for the plant is not complicated if you know its basic needs; you can even experiment with its propagation. If successful, the offspring can become an excellent gift plant. So let’s see how to grow and care for a Christmas cactus!
Growing Christmas cacti
Christmas cactus is surprisingly easy to propagate by rooting a short, Y-shaped stem segment separated from the mother plant. From the ends of the shoots, cut pieces of stems consisting of three segments. It is important that the segment selected as a cutting is completely healthy. Place the lower quarter of the stem piece in a slightly sandy planting mix. Keep the planting mix moist. Place the pot in a place with good lighting, but away from direct sunlight.
After a few weeks, you can observe new growth on the cutting. You can then transplant it into a larger pot filled with a loose planting mix consisting of compost, clay and sand.
Caring for Christmas cacti
Regarding the care of the Christmas cactus, it is often said that with a little attention it can be grown successfully in practically any indoor environment. Although the Christmas cactus adapts well to low light conditions, it is easier to get it to bloom if you place its pot in a sufficiently bright place. However, as mentioned above, be sure to protect it from direct sunlight, as the sun can easily scorch its leaves.
It is also important to be aware of the water requirements of the Christmas cactus. The plant requires frequent and thorough watering in spring and summer, i.e. when it is in an active growth phase. This means that ideally its soil is always slightly moist. Allow the moisture content of the soil to drop sufficiently between waterings, but never let it dry out completely. It is also unlucky if the watered plant stands in stagnant water, as this can easily cause the roots and stems to rot. During this period, you can also treat it with a low-concentration liquid indoor plant nutrient solution every two weeks.
Regarding the care of the Christmas cactus, you should also take into account that an environment with a temperature of 15-21 °C and medium to high humidity is optimal for it. If you place the pot of the Christmas cactus on a gravel tray filled with water, you can increase the humidity in its immediate environment.
After the flowers of the Christmas cactus have faded (usually in the fall), or about six to eight weeks before the intended rebloom, allow the plant to begin its dormant cycle. You can achieve this by providing it with less water or by moving it to a darker room with a lower temperature. In other words, reduce the amount of irrigation water and ensure that the plant spends 12-14 hours a day in a dark room at around 10-12 °C. It is also important that the plant is not in a drafty place during this period.
In short, if you know the needs of the Christmas cactus, its care should not cause any particular problems. If you do everything right, the plant will thank you for your competent care with multiple blooms within a year.