Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera)
The Christmas cactus isn't just for Christmas! In fact, the plant can be kept year round and can thrive for many years. They do very well in porous clay pots, and they love being in areas with high humidity. The plant generally blooms throughout the winter.
I keep my Christmas cacti inside my greenhouse to ensure that both the temperature and humidity stay to their liking. I also use a 1200 watt overhead LED grow light that has the adjustable full spectrum and the cacti plants seem to really love it.
Taking care of a Christmas cactus
Christmas cacti grow best when they are kept in an area with temperatures kept between 70 and 80 degrees F. The cactus can actually get sunburned, which will make the edges of their leaves turn a purplish red. Should this happen to your Christmas cactus, move it to a better location. The plant prefers bright, indirect light instead of full sun.
Christmas cacti need to be watered about every three weeks, but only water when the soil feels completely dry to the touch. Never over water the plant, because it will cause root rot and the plant will die.
From spring through early fall, fertilize the cactus every three weeks. Prune the cactus in late spring to encourage branching out and blooming. Clip off the flowers after they have perished to encourage even more blooms.
Repotting a Christmas cactus
Repotting a Christmas cactus should be done only after the blooming season ends and the flowers have wilted in the latter part of winter. DO NOT attempt to repot the plant while it is actively blooming.
Propagating a Christmas cactus
The Christmas cactus is generally an easy plant to propagate. To propagate it, take cuttings of one to four segments and allow them to stay in a cool, dry place for up to four days. Plant each plant segment one inch deep in a clay pot that's filled with a sandy peat-mixed soil. Water sparingly until roots or new growth develop. Once root development has happened, begin watering as normal, about once every three weeks.