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Schlumbergera bridgesii (Christmas Cactus)

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Scientific Name

Schlumbergera bridgesii (Lem.) Loefgr.

Common Names

Christmas Cactus, Holiday Cactus

Synonyms

Epiphyllum bridgesii (basionym), Zygocactus bridgesii

Scientific Classification

Family: Cactaceae
Subfamily: Cactoideae
Tribe: Rhipsalideae
Genus: Schlumbergera

Description

Schlumbergera bridgesii is a very popular and unusual cactus. The plant bodies are flattened and the leaves are actually stems. The flowers are produced from notches in these stems or from the tips. The fuchsia-like flowers bloom in winter and last a long time. They are generally carmine red, tinged purple in the center and perfectly symmetrical.

Photo via wikimedia.org

Hardiness

USDA hardiness zones 9a to 11b: from 20 °F (−6.7 °C) to 50 °F (+10 °C).

How to Grow and Care

These plants are easy to grow and are often passed down through the generations. With Holiday Cactus, the million-dollar question isn't how to grow it, but how to make it bloom. With a little extra attention during the fall months, you can have your plants blooming for the holidays. Don't expose these plants to freezing temperatures! Despite their love of cooler temperatures, they are still tropical plants that won't withstand freezing conditions. They like about 50% to 60% humidity, which can be achieved using a pebble tray. Never place your Holiday Cactus near a heat register, exterior door or drafty window and keep it out of burning sunlight.

Don't fall into the trap of constantly repotting into a bigger pot. Holiday Cactus likes to be root-bound and repotting every 2 to 3 years (even back into the same pot) is plenty. If you repot, use a sterile, well-draining potting soil.

Holiday Cactus can easily be propagated by cuttings. Pinch off a section of stem that has 2 to 3 jointed segments. Let the cuttings dry for a few hours, then push them in a small pot with the same planting mix as the adult plant.

Learn more at How to Grow and Care for Holiday Cactus.

Origin

Schlumbergera bridgesii is native to the coastal mountains of south-eastern Brazil. English botanist Martyn Rix identifies Christmas Cactus as a hybrid, Schlumbergera x buckleyi, originally produced in the 1840s by William Buckley at the Rollisson Nurseries in England.

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