Brighten Your Home with a Holiday Cactus


The schlumbergea is a small family of cacti found on trees in the Brazilian rainforests. They grow in pockets of leaf debris where there is a split in the tree branches. These flowering epiphytes have thin flat green segments that can spread 12 feet. This plant is easy to grow indoors and will live for many years.

Blooming Holiday Cactus
Photo By Desiree Bell

Three years ago, my mother gave me a cactus start that she propagated from her plant, which is 20 years old. Her cactus was a cutting from her mothers' plant that was many years old. The schlumbergea can easily be propagated by twisting off two or three connected segments. Allow the moist end to dry for a few hours then plant in a small pot filled with sandy type soil.

Researching I discovered that the cactus past down to me is a Thanksgiving Cactus. The Thanksgiving Cactus, schlumbergera truncate, has pointy edged leaves and tends to bloom in November. The Christmas Cactus, schlumbergra x buckley, has more rounded edges on the leaf stem and blooms in December. 

Budding Holiday Cactus
Photo By Desiree Bell

Place in medium light as to much sun causes the stems to take on a reddish color, and low light levels will prevent flowering. Fertilize throughout the spring and summer months. Darkness in the autumn season for at least 12 hours is necessary to induce bud formation. The cactus's flowers are not symmetrical in shape; they have different right and left halves and come in a variety of colors.  

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