The Christmas or Thanksgiving cactus, also called Santa Teresita or schlumbergera (Schlumbergera truncata) It is a very special plant because it blooms in winter, when there are few colorful flowers. That is why it got its names.
With proper care, Saint Therese blooms just in time for the holiday season. Red, pink, yellow, white, pink… the variety of colors of the schlumbergera is great.
The Christmas cactus comes from the tropical region of Brazil, where it often grows as an epiphyte (it develops on the branches of trees, but it is not a parasitic plant). The Christmas Cactus often confused with the Easter cactusanother member of the family, but this one blooms in spring.
There is a little trick to distinguish between the two cacti: the flowers of the Easter cactus are star-shaped, while those of the Christmas cactus are more elongated.
If you take good care of the Christmas cactus, it will continually produce new shoots, grow and bloom more luxuriantly year after year. Unlike the poinsettia, another Christmas plant, the Christmas cactus is relatively easy to care for. At least if you avoid these errors:
Caring for the Christmas cactus: how to avoid the 4 most frequent mistakes
Incorrect location: if it is in a place that is too sunny or too dark, the Christmas cactus will not grow well. Diffused light, as found in its original habitat, is best.Calcareous water: ehe Christmas cactus needs much more water than other cacti, but it must be water without lime. In the Mediterranean areas of Spain, tap water will not work for you. It is better rainwater or filtered.Nights that are too short prevent it from flowering: For it to produce buds, the nights must be longer, more than 14 hours is optimal. So put your Christmas cactus in a room where it gets dark early (one facing east).Put the cactus near or on top of the heater: it is too hot a place for it, from about 23 degrees it does not form buds.
The right location for the Christmas cactus
The Christmas cactus loves light during the day, as long as it is not direct. Therefore, a south-facing window is not a good location for the Christmas cactus. The ideal temperature is 15 to 20 degrees.
In summer, the Christmas cactus is happy with an outdoor location, as long as it has a place in the semi-shade. If the temperature drops below ten degrees, you should bring it back into the house, since it the Christmas cactus is not hardy.
How to promote flowering
Flowering is triggered by the shorter days and cooler temperatures beginning in the fall. Place the Christmas cactus in a fairly dark place between August and September. From the beginning of October it must be cooler (about 15 degrees) so that it can flower. When the shoots appear, it is happy with the highest temperatures of around 20 degrees.
When the Christmas cactus has withered, it deserves a period of rest.
How to give a Christmas cactus a break
After flowering you have to reduce risk frequency and do without any fertilizer. During the dormant period, which lasts about three months, the Christmas cactus should be in a cool, dark place. When spring comes, it can be moved back to a slightly warmer and brighter spot and watered more frequently.
Irrigation of the Santa Teresita
Since the Christmas cactus comes from the South American tropics and not from the desert, is used to rain (unlike ordinary cacti), but it doesn’t like the soil to stay too wet.
you can water as soon as the top layer of soil has dried. It is very important that it does not get flooded.
During flowering it needs more water. Starting in August, you should reduce watering and move it to a cooler place. When the first shoots appear, you can water more again.
Very important: do not water the plant with hard water, but preferably with well-aged rainwater at room temperature. If you spray him with this water from time to time, he will be happy.
The right soil for the Christmas cactus
Plant Santa Teresita in cactus land, not on common ground. Earth mixed with sand is suitable.
Making Christmas cactus cuttings is easy
If you like the plant, you will want to have more. Multiplying it by cuttings is easy. In spring, carefully separate several leaf segments and let them dry in the open air for a few hours. Then place them in a pot with moist soil. After a few weeks, new roots will form and the young plant will no longer need to be watered as often. Place this new plant in a bright and warm place. To ensure that the plant grows densely from the start, you can place several cuttings in the pot. If you mix cuttings from plants of different colors, you will get a wonderful chromatic diversity.
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