The best gift for a cacti lover this holiday season would definitely be a Christmas Cactus. It’s also a very popular gift this time of year. This houseplant blooms around Christmas but still stays very attractive throughout the year. With its long green arm and cultivars in numerous colors, Christmas Cactus is a real gem of gardening. Here are some facts that will help you grow a happy and healthy Christmas Cactus if you happen to receive as a gift this holiday season.
1. Christmas Cactus loves cooler temperatures
Although its called “cactus”, this plant needs to be kept away from any heat source. Also, the longer you expose Christmas Cactus to lower temperatures, the longer it will bloom. You should place your plant away from any heaters or fireplaces, as well as a frequently used door. This plant won’t appreciate frequent drafts and big temperature changes. The optimal temperature for this cactus to thrive is 68 degrees Fahrenheit (20 degrees Celsius).
2. This cactus needs light for blooming
In order to help a Christmas Cactus to bloom as long as possible, youll need to place it in some sunny spot in your house. On the other hand, if you move your plants outdoors during the summer, keep them in partial shade, as the direct sunlight will burn the leaves.
3. Brazilian beauty
Christmas Cactus is native to Brazilian rain forests. This plant is epiphytes, which means that it grows on a top of another plant non-parasitically. Being a tropical plant growing among tree branches, this beauty thrives in humid conditions.
4. Beauty sleep is a key
In order for the flower buds to set, Christmas Cactus needs at least 14 hours of continuous darkness daily. You should place your plants in a room where you won’t turn the lights on at night. Once the flower buds have set, your cactus will be just fine even with the lights on during the night.
5. Christmas Cactus isn’t toxic to pets
Unlike the other favorite holiday succulent, Poinsettia, Christmas Cactus is not at all toxic to cats or dogs. If your furry friend has a taste of this cactus, there won’t be any irritation or vomiting, as with famously poisonous Poinsettia.
6. Christmas Cactus has a very long lifespan
Christmas Cactus is a houseplant you easily get to pass to your children or even grandchildren. If properly grown, this cactus can live 20 to 30 years. All you need to do is to provide long nights starting from October and your cactus will continue to bloom year after year. Cool night temperatures can also encourage extensive blooming.
7. You need to be careful with watering
Christmas Catus is very sensitive to overwatering. To stay on the safe side, you should only water your plant when the soil is dry to the touch. However, your plant will appreciate misting. You`ll have to mist the leaves on a daily basis in order to maintain a desirable level of humidity around the plant.
8. Keep an eye for the pests
Christmas Cactus is very sensitive to the pests. Root mealybugs, fungus gnats, and flower thrips can easily cause your plant to die. The best way to keep your cactus healthy is to take preventive measures. The pests are mostly attracted by overwatering. You can also apply some mild pesticides and discard any infested plants.
9. Christmas Cactus is also wildly affected with diseases
Succulent and cacti experts are constantly updating the base of cactus diseases. This specific one is particularly sensitive to basal stem rot, botrytis blight, impatiens necrotic spot virus, phytophthora root rot, and pythium root rot.
10. Are you sure that a Christmas Cactus you bought is a real deal?
This sure came to you as a surprise. What you bought as a Christmas Cactus may actually be a Holiday Cactus, Thanksgiving Cactus or Zygocactus. The “real” Christmas Cactus has segments with rounded margins, ribbed ovaries, and purplish-brown anthers. It`s an interspecific hybrid of Schlumbergera truncata and Schlumbergera russelliana, originating in England, approximately 150 years ago. The “true” Christmas Cactus is a common houseplant, but it’s not grown commercially that often.