Monday, December 1, 2014

Christmas Flowers – Christmas Cactus (Schlumbergera)

As the Christmas season approaches we sometime purchase plants for neighbors, friends or ourselves to brighten up the holidays.  So, for the next few weeks, I thought I’d cover a few of the more common ones and a few things you should know before buying them.

Christmas Cactus or Schlumbergera as it’s known by its scientific name grows in a jungle and prefers semi-shade. Unlike desert-dwelling cacti, it prefers a well-lit and humid atmosphere. You can increase the local humidity by placing the pot in a gravel-filled saucer.

Christmas Cacti are easy to grow and non-toxic to dogs and cats. It comes in many colors—red, purple, pink, and white. And it is fairly easy to grow.  It requires little to no pruning, but removing a few of the oldest stems will increase the foliage.  Remove whole leaf segments and root them for additional plants.

Problems associated with Christmas Cactus:

***Shriveling stems:  caused by the plant being in a too hot and sunny situation. However it is often due to root deterioration cause by over or under watering.

***Discolored and damaged stems:  caused by the plant being placed in a situation that is too hot and sunny. Although it is a cacti, it’s natural habitat is a woodland setting with dappled shade.

***Non-flowering:  the plant must experience conditions to mimic autumn changes such has shortening days and a drop in temperatures. 

***Flower bud dropping:  is caused by fluctuating temperatures or overwatering.

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