November 23, 2012

My Christmas Cactus Always Blooms at Thanksgiving

Christmas Cactus (Schlumbergera) are readily available in garden centers and big box stores all over the place right now. I love them and they are super easy to grow and propagate.

They come in several colors from white and gold shades to the hot pink pictured above.  The original Christmas Cactus  that this plant came from was purchased at Christmas several years ago. When I got it it was in bud and I enjoyed it all through the holiday season. When it had dropped the very last bud, I put it in a sunny window kept it barely moist and waited until the outside temps were above 60 degrees. I potted it up into a larger pot  and out it went to a shady spot on my porch where it suffered much neglect - intentionally! I watered it when it got wilted or sooner if I remembered.

If you live in a warmer zone than my zone 6B you might get away with keeping yours outside all year. I have to bring mine in before frost. I keep lots of plants over winter in the big sunny windows we built into our art studio and this is where the cactus goes. Within two weeks the buds begin to pop out on the ends of every stem. When I see the first bloom open I put my plant in a showy place in the house . The picture above was made Thanksgiving Day. All my Christmas Cacti have always bloomed on or right after Thanksgiving. They give me much joy!

tiny roots

planted back into the pot
When I brought this one in from the studio, One branch was wilted but I noticed roots on all its' leaf joints. I poked a hole in the soil of the pot and pushed the end of that wilted stem into it. It will take root in a few weeks and be a new plant. All one needs to do to make new plants from a Schlumbergera is make cuttings anywhere there is a leaf joint, place the cutting (with or without rooting hormone) into a pot, keep it moist and you will have a new plant in no time at all. If you look closely at your mature plant you will probably see tiny roots growing out of many of the leaves, any of those leaves will root in a pot or tray of soil.

See the little roots here

If you've never grown a Christmas Cactus or you tossed them out in the past because you didn't know what to do with it, now is the time to get started with a new one. I think I might have room for another color myself.

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