CHRISTMAS CACTUS CARE
While it is true that the Christmas cactus is a tropical form of cactus and is not as drought tolerant as its common name suggests. However, it is a succulent plant and can store a reasonable quantity of water in its specialised leaves.
Water thoroughly when the top half of the soil in the pot feels dry to the touch, but discard discard any excess water. Do not water again until the top half of the soil becomes dry.
Avoid draughts, and any sources of direct heat such as radiators or other sources. On the whole, keep your Christmas Cactus on the cool side.
Christmas cactus can adapt to low light, but more abundant blooms are produced on plants that have been exposed to higher light intensity. Keep your plants in a sunny location indoors, but they can be moved outdoors in summer in a shady or semi-shady location.
In warmer climates, they can be planted in raised beds for good effect, but be aware that too much direct sunlight can burn the leaves.
When it's time to bring the plants back inside in the Autumn, slowly adjust the plants to life indoors by gradually increasing the number of hours they spend indoors each day.
Well-drained soil is essential for the proper care of Christmas cactus. Use a good quality cactus compost or mix your own by combining two parts plain potting soil with one part clean sand or vermiculite.
Whilst the plant roots do not not need too big a pot, a larger pot is desirable to prevent the plant being top-heavy and falling over.
Hanging pots are very popular with Christmas cactus.
How to bring your Christmas Cactus to flower
Christmas cactus will bloom if given long uninterrupted dark periods. Begin the dark treatments in about mid-October to have plants in full bloom by the Christmas holidays. Christmas cactus will also bloom if they are subjected to cool temperatures of about 50 to 55 Fahrenheit at night.
Christmas Cactus Problems
Flowering problems are usually as a result of over-watering - in particular if the plant pot is in a saucer and holding a reservoir of water. This will cause mature flowers to droop, and in particular causes the buds dropping off. Let it dry out and don't water again unless the top half of the soil has dried out. If you have bud drop on a newly bought plant - or a Christmas present - then flower problems and drop will probably be due to a change of environment such as a severe temperature difference. Red or bronzed leaves will invariably mean that it has suffered from a cold spell.
Christmas Cactus, can be fed once a month with a formulated cacti fertilizer. In particular, fertilise after flowering.
The history of the Christmas cactus
The ‘Christmas Cactus’ or Schlumbergera truncata - as it is otherwise known - is a plant of singular deceit! Although its botanical name is derived from Frédéric Schlumberger (1823-1893) - the well known French collector of cacti and other succulents – the plant was neither discovered by him nor named by him. In fact, it received its name through another Frenchman - botanist and botanical author Charles Antoine Lemaire, a contemporary expert of the Cactaceae genus and colleague of Frédéric Schlumberger.
Between 1814 and 1816, and on the recommendation of Sir Joseph Banks - President of the Royal Society, founder of the Royal Horticultural Society, and unofficial director of Kew Botanic Gardens - Allan Cunningham was sent on an expedition to Brazil aboard the HMS Mermaid.
Under the employ of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, he was tasked to collect, document, and bring back to England any new and unknown plant species – particularly those that may have valuable economic importance. Amongst the many new species that were discovered on this - his first - journey, was of course an un-named, tree dwelling cactus.
This newly discovered species was unlike any cactus that had been seen before. It was a true, tropical rainforest epiphyte that - instead of growing in the ground as you would expect - was found high up in the tree canopy rooted onto tree branches. Despite the high rainfall encountered within the Brazilian rainforest, water drained away quickly in the tree canopy, mimicking the drought conditions encountered by the more familiar members of the cacti family. Not surprisingly, because of their specialised environment, these epiphytic cacti are quite different in appearance to that of their desert-dwelling cousins.
So why are they called Christmas cactus?
Unsurprisingly, the Schlumbergera Christmas cactus – apart from flowering over the Christmas period – has nothing to do with either the Christmas tradition or the story of Christ’s birth. Its common name derives only from its ability to flower at the right time, and so I apologise to anyone who has been misled by implied marketing. However in all fairness, it isn't really the plants fault – it’s all down to the French, or is it?
For more information click onto:
Can you Replant a Christmas Tree?
Can you Plant up a Christmas Tree after Christmas?
Choosing Hardy Cacti and Succulents for Growing Outside
Christmas Cactus Care
Cloves and Cinnamon - Spices with the Sweet Scent of Christmas
Euphorbia pulcherrima - The Poinsettia
Gardening Jobs For December
Hardy Cacti and Succulents for Growing Outside
How Does Mistletoe Grow
How to Care for Your Cut Christmas Tree
How to Care for Poinsettias
How to Grow Mistletoe from Seed
How to Prepare for the Christmas Holidays
How to Propagate and Grow Mistletoe
Merry Christmas - From Where I Live
Poinsettia History and Tradition Story
Recipe for Traditional Christmas Cake
Recipe for Christmas Pudding
Schlumbergera Species - The Christmas Cacti
The History of Mistletoe Tradition
The History of the Christmas Tree
Types and Varieties of Christmas Tree
What is Christmas?
What is Love?
What is a Poinsettia?
Who was Father Christmas?
Who was Santa Claus?
Images care of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allan_Cunningham_(botanist) and http://www.homeandgardenideas.com/gardening/plants/cactus/transplanting-christmas-cactus and http://forums2.gardenweb.com/forums/load/houseplt/msg1021114725357.html