The Cactus Patch
Volume 4       March 2001      Number 3

Anne Lee's Notes on Growing Christmas Cactus
(Schlumbergera hybrids)
by Anne Lee

According to The House Plant Encyclopedia (Firefly Books), Christmas Cacti are hybrids created from Epiphyllum and Zygocactus so information about growing those plants can help with growing Schlumbergera. The advice is to grow in light to partial shade all year, in summer outdoors. The plants rest at 54 to 57 degrees F. Care suggested is:
Three months before you wish the plant to bloom, cut back watering and lower temperature. After one month, move to a warmer place. When buds show, increase watering and feed every two weeks. Spray occasionally without wetting the flower. After it has bloomed, allow another period of rest.
The Sunset Western Garden Book says to give Schlumbergera rich, porous soil with plenty of leaf mold and sand. Feed frequently - as often as every 7 - 10 days during growth and flowering - with liquid fertilizer. It goes on to give advise on the Christmas Cactus variety (S. bridgesli - known as Zygocactus truncatus) saying, "To ensure bud set for late December bloom, keep plant where it will receive cool night temperatures (50 - 55 deg. F) and 12 - 14 hours of darkness per day during November."

What I've been doing is to keep my plants out on my patio up against the house so they are protected from direct sunlight. When buds start to set (usually between November and December - of course it depends on the weather). I bring them in the house until after they have bloomed and keep them in until after danger of frost, so they are pretty much inside in Winter and outside in Spring, Summer and Fall. They like lots of water, especially in the hot summer time but they need drainage.

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