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How to Care for Your Christmas Cactus

How to Care for Your Christmas Cactus
There is nothing more beautiful than a Christmas cactus in full bloom. With proper care and a little bit of love, a Christmas cactus will grow larger, stronger and healthier bringing you joy for many, many years. I have had my cactus for fifteen years and when a sprig would accidentally get knocked off, I would replant it, but only after doing one step to prepare it for the soil. When it was healthy enough, I would give it away as a gift. You don’t need a degree in botany to have a beautiful Christmas cactus, all you need are some directions and the desire to grow such a glorious plant.

What is A Christmas Cactus?
The Christmas cactus, also known as Schlumbergera and Zygocactus is a relatively small genus of cacti that grows on trees or rocks in the coastal mountains of Brazil. According to http://www.wikipedia.org there are six species of Christmas cacti and they grow in shady habitats with high humidity and are quite different from their desert dwelling cousins. The Christmas cactus has several other names such as; the Holiday cactus, the Easter cactus and the Thanksgiving cactus. When the Christmas cactus flowers, the flowers can be white, pink, yellow, orange, red and purple. The Christmas cactus blooms between Thanksgiving and Christmas in the northern hemisphere and between Easter and May in the southern hemisphere. Strangely, my cactus usually blooms at both Christmas time and Easter affectionately earning it the name the Chreaster cactus.

Caring For Your Christmas Cactus
Caring for and maintaining your Christmas cactus is relatively easy and by following some basic rules you will be able to enjoy your cactus for many, many years. When it comes to watering and sunlight, its best to;

  • · Light- keep your plants in a sunny location indoors, but if move outside during the summer, keep it in a semi-shady location. Too much light can burn and damage the leaves.
  • · Soil- well-drained soil is a must for a Christmas cactus. Use a commercially packaged mix for succulent plants.
  • · Water- A Christmas cactus is a succulent plant and can store a reasonable amount of water in its leaves. Water thoroughly when the top half of the soil feels dry to the touch. The length of time between watering will vary depending on temperature, amount of light and humidity.
  • · Re-potting- plants should be re-potted every two or three years or when the pot is filled with roots and the soil looks depleted.

Re-planting A Section That Has Broken Off
Don’t throw that broken piece away, do what I do. Get a glass milk jug, tall glass or cup or any other suitable container and fill it just about to the top with cold tap water. Place the broken piece of the cactus in the container of water and place it on a windowsill where it can get some sunlight. If it’s during the summertime, place it in an area where it gets a modest amount of sunlight. As the water level drops, keep refilling the container. Eventually you will see tiny roots sprouting from the bottom of the broken piece. When this happens, transplant it into a new pot of soil and follow the directions for proper care. Soon you will see it begin to grow larger and stronger.
A Christmas cactus is a beautiful and wonderful plant that will bring you years of stunning beauty when it blooms.