Schlumbergera is a beautiful plant that is known as Christmas Cactus. It is named Christmas Cactus as it blooms around Easter. Before one month to Christmas, the tips of growing leaves can be observed. Over time, the colour of tips becomes darker and leads to the bud’s formation. Magically, at the time of Christmas, the buds bloom into beautiful flowers that add warmth and colour to the holiday season.
The origin of this plant is the Brazilian coastal area and it is an epiphyte plant. Like an orchard, this plant can grow on trees, rocks, and other plants. This plant enhances the looks of the display of the home and is also an ideal gift for the event of Christmas.
Recently, the Christmas cactus has become the most favourite Christmas plant and is widely replacing the traditional Poinsettia. Moreover, its flowers are easy to see so more and more people are opting in for the festive flowers. With the abundant little flowers in red, yellow, white, purple, and pink colour, and beautiful hanging branches this tree is a beautiful mean for adding charming colour and value to the festivals.
Why Selection of Soil, Spot, and Set-Up is Must?
Christmas Cactus needs bright light, but the exposure of the plant to light should be indirect. By the intense light and heat, the growth is deleteriously affected, and the lead tips are also burned. The plant should be placed away from the fireplaces, heat vents, hot air sources, and drafts.
In the summer season, the indoor plants should be moved to a shady outdoor location. The temperature range at the house should be kept within 18-20 degrees Celsius. For initiation of blooming cooler temperatures at night are required.
If the placement of a pot containing a plant is in the east or north-facing window, then there is no need to worry about the direction of light. But if the plant is placed in the west or south-facing window then the diffusion of light should be ensured with some sort of light-diffusing devices or semi-transparent curtains.
Why there is a Need for the Provision of Humid Conditions in a Dry Environment?
Water containing tray should be placed next to the plant as it serves as a good source of humidity due to the provision of water. In an alternative mean, one can also make own and unique humidity tray by the placement of pot on any waterproof saucer that should be half-filled with the gravels, or stones and the rest of half with the water.
Here is an important thing to note that the direct contact of the pot with the saucer should be avoided as the penetration of only a small amount of water can cause the rotting of plant roots. The ultimate target should be the achievement of 50-60% humidity. If any environment is naturally providing this level of humidity, then there is no need to go for any additional setup.
Why the Utilization of Well-Draining Soil and Container is Must?
The cheap orchard planters and nursery planters can best serve the purpose of planting and growing the Christmas Cactus tree. For filling the containers, a combination of 3 kinds of potting materials is recommended such as sand or perlite, compost, and moss. Adjust the moisture level according to the requirements of the plant.
Why the Addition of Nutrients is Essential to Support Plant Growth?
Nutrients are indispensable for the growth and developmental processes of plants. Especially during the active growing period, the application of the optimum level of nutrients is the most crucial step. The fertilizer application should be avoided at the initial stages, and most probably, the fertilizers can be applied when the plants are two to three weeks old.
Without the addition of fertilizers, the health of plants is negatively affected, and the joints can easily break as they become more fragile. The fertilizer should be applied two to four times a year and overdosing should be avoided. One month before the appearance of buds the feeding of plants with fertilizers should be avoided. Usually, it is perfect, if no dose is given after the end of October.
What are Wagering Requirements of Christmas Cactus?
Irrigating Christmas Cactus is the trickiest part as little mistakes for overwatering or underwatering the plants can create big problems for its growth and blooming. Although, this plant is in the category of cactus it cannot tolerate complete drying conditions in the soil. During the extremely dry conditions, the buds of flowers start dropping followed by the wilting of plants.
Due to overwatering spots are developed on the leaves that cause the rotting of plants. For the best growth, the moisture level in the soil should be optimum. To avoid less irrigation or over-irrigation, one should feel the moisture in the soil by touching with the fingers. Generally, less water does not cause much harm as that of the over-application of water does.
The plant should be watered thoroughly. Before watering, it is recommended to check that either the top layer of soil id dried enough or not. Other than the soil, the leaves should also be provided with moisture in the form of mist.
Why Seasonal Changes in the Watering Schedule are Important?
The wagering requirements of cactus plants are based on environmental conditions and seasonal changes. The best method for irrigating the cactus is given below.
In the outdoor and dry climate, the plant should be irrigated every 2-3 days. Frequent watering is essential during sunny and warm conditions.
In indoor, cool, and humid conditions, the plants should be irrigated every week.
In the winter months and during the fall conditions, the frequency of irrigating the Christmas cactus should be less as fewer irrigation favours blooming.
Why Irrigation Should be Stopped by the End of October?
Soon, after October hits, there is no need to irrigate the Christmas cactus. However, in November a light watering can be resumed. If the plant is getting dry, then one can place a tray containing moist pebbles near the pot. When the plant starts blooming, the irrigation should be immediately stopped. At this stage, the irrigation should be ceased for about six weeks, so that the plant gets enough time to rest.
Still, growth can be observed at this time and soon after the initiation of new growth watering should be resumed.
Why Observe the Dropping of Buds?
Dropping off the flowering buds of Christmas cactus could be a frustrating thing and it can be caused by the different biotic and abiotic stress conditions. Usually, buds are dropped due to over-irrigation, but it may also be due to a lack of light or humidity. When this is happening the amount and frequency of watering should be reduced and some amount of fertilizers should be added to the pots.
To avoid the dropping of the buds, the pot should be moved away from the vent or hot radiator, and preferably it should be placed in such a way that exposure to the optimum level of light is ensured.
How on Time Blooming Can be Ensured?
The blooming of flowers can be encouraged in the holiday season by lowering the indoor conditions. The key factors for ensuring the maximum flowering are the correct adjustment of temperature, application of proper watering and light exposures.
Due to its thermo-photoperiodic nature, the plant starts setting buds when the day and night length becomes equal and when the temperature is decreased to 50-60-degree Fahrenheit for some weeks. But when the temperature is further decreased then the blooming is stopped. So, exposure of plants to freezing temperatures should be avoided.
The plant should be kept in a dark space at night time, where, it can receive bright but indirect light during the day hours. At night there should be no exposure to any beam of light. For its good blooming an uninterrupted dark period is required and usually, it should be more than 12 hours. In the mid of October, the dark treatments should be started so that the plant can completely bloom by the holiday period. Every night for six to eight weeks the plants should be kept in a dark area. An unused bathroom or closet is the best condition for placing the Christmas cactus.
In this condition, even more, careful watering is required. The frequency and amount of watering should be slightly reduced. After the dry periods, there is no need to soak the soil. Only a few inches of topsoil is ideal to moisten as excessive irrigation can cause the shedding of flowers, buds, and leaves.
At the initiation of the formation of flower buds, an increase in humidity and light is recommended. At the start of budding, the dark ages got over. In this period, normal conditions like a growing period need to be provided. If the bud formation is starting early, then their growth can be stunted by lowering the temperature. After some period, the temperature can be increased to resume bud formation.
Why Pruning of Christmas Cactus is Essential?
After one month of blooming, pruning encourages the branching out of the Christmas cactus, especially after the resting period. After the fading of blossoms, the plant does not look much pretty. Some people prefer to wait till March to pruning the cactus at the beginning of new growth. After 30 days of blooming the watering should be ceased. With the starting of new growth, the watering can be resumed.
How Christmas Cactus Can be Propagated?
The propagation of this plant can be done by cutting the Y shaped short sections of the main stem of the Christmas cactus. Each section should be allowed to dry for some hours and then should be pushed to the 3 inches pot containing the same potting material as that of the parent plant. The stem should be halfway down, and water should be sparingly applied to prevent the rooting.
The cuttings should be treated as mature plants. The cuttings are rooted in 4-6 weeks and then new growth is started. The stems are capable of quick growth and fertilizer application should be done soon after the addition of a new section to the stem.
Why Repotting is Essential After Every Two to Three Years?
Usually, the plant grows and develops well for some years but due to the damaged root system the plant may get harmed or get some diseases. Other than this there is a requirement of the new pot when the nutrients have been depleted or there are some other problems in the root setup. Mostly, repotting is done in the spring period. A slightly large container should be used for repotting.
While repotting or replanting, there should be the use of fresh soil. As the plant is a living entity so some fresh material is necessary for its normal growth and development. The best time for repotting this plant is February-April, however, most people prefer repotting in March.
How Reblooming Can be Encouraged?
By the proper management of watering, temperature, and irrigation a good number of flowers can be obtained from the Christmas cactus. Generally, two resting periods are required and at this time there should be a proper reduction in temperature and irrigation frequency. By following the best management practices, the reblooming of the plant is ensured.
Why There are Leaves on the Limp of Christmas Cactus?
Due to less watering, the dropping off of the leaves is often expected. To fix this problem, frequent irrigation is required but overwatering should be avoided to prevent the rotting of the plant.
Are the Plants of Christmas Cactus Poisonous to Cats?
For the feline family members, the plant Christmas cactus is not poisonous. However, the ingestion of plant parts can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, and temporary pain in the stomach along with irritation. So, it is best to keep the cats away from this plant. It also saves the plant to be a snack for cats.
Due to the proper care by consideration of all important factors, it is not difficult the manage the growth and development of the Christmas cactus plant. If the plant is placed in the best suitable location and managed properly, then the plant may offer surprising results along with the additional cycles of blooming around the year.