The Christmas Cactus, whose scientific name is Schlumbergera truncatais a plant native to the Amazon jungle that you can grow for many years and enjoy its beautiful blooms as long as you follow these tips.
Let’s start by clarifying that the Christmas Cactus, also known as Santa Teresita, is not a real cactus, but belongs to the group of succulents.
Its natural environment is the tropical jungle of Brazil and it is found growing specifically in a hanging form, on the branches and trunks of trees.
In addition to its hanging habit, the appeal of the Christmas cactus lies in its prolific, attractive flowers that grow from the tips of its succulent branches. These flowers, which can measure between 4 and 8 cm, are generally pink, fuchsia, red or white.
Its flowering takes place in winter, when it is Christmas in the northern hemisphere, hence its popular name. In the southern hemisphere, it is better known as Santa Teresita. Other popular names are April Cactus, Thanksgiving Cactus, Easter Cactus.
How to take care of your Christmas cactus
This succulent has the same general care as its relatives, let’s see some of them to make sure it grows healthy and offers us its beautiful flowers.
Where to grow it?
The Christmas Cactus is a plant that we can grow inside our homes sheltered from full sun, extreme temperatures and winds that can break its branches. You need to make sure it gets good light for it to thrive.
It is also possible to have it outside, in a bright place, in conditions similar to the Amazon jungle. It all depends on the region where you live, you will have to take care that it does not receive direct sunlight which could burn it, and pay attention to temperatures below 10°C or above 25°C.
How much to water it?
Like any succulent plant, it has its own water reserves and is sensitive to excess moisture in its roots. It will therefore be necessary to take care not to generate rot, especially during the cold months because they are irreversible.
Ideally, water the soil only when it is dry and lightly. It is essential to use rainwater, filter water for irrigation or, failing that, let chlorine evaporate from tap water as this affects it negatively.
You can also simulate its natural humid environment by spraying its leaves three or four times a week, taking care not to do too much so as not to create a favorable climate for insects such as scale insects and aphids. This humidity point will depend on the humidity present in the environment where it is located.
During the cold months, after flowering, it will be necessary to space out the waterings further until next spring.
What substrate to use?
Regarding the substrate to use to grow our Christmas Cactus, as for irrigation, we must think about where it grows naturally. The Amazon rainforest is mostly moderately acidic and loose in pH, with a good amount of organic matter.
So when assembling the pot to grow this succulent, you must also ensure good drainage. One can use for example a mixture of substrate for orchids or cacti at 25% with substrate for indoor plants at 75%. Or plant it directly in a 100% indoor plant substrate.
With what to pay?
To ensure good growth and flowering of the Christmas Cactus, it must be supplied with phosphorus and potassium, ideally organic.
This is a good option for making homemade compost with leftover banana or potato peels. All you have to do is boil these shells, let them cool, strain them and baste them.
How does the Christmas Cactus reproduce?
Like all plants in general, it can be reproduced by seed, but it is a long process to obtain a plant of ornamental size. Also, we cannot guarantee the color of your flower with this method.
If you want to make sure you get a new plant with the same characteristics as the original, the best method is propagation by cuttings or cuttings.
In the following video we tell you how to propagate a Christmas cactus in a simple and successful way.
With all these tips and a bit of your green thumb, you will surely be able to enjoy the beauty of the Christmas Cactus.