The holiday season is around the corner. It’s that time of the year where you might want to plant a nice holiday houseplant such as Christmas cactus.
Christmas cactus will bloom gorgeously during the holiday periods. There are different types of Christmas cactus and we will be discussing them.
The categories of Christmas cactus may be known under different names such as Thanksgiving or Easter cactus. However, the scientific name (Genus) of the Christmas cactus, which is Schlumbergera, never changes: Even though both thanksgiving and Christmas cactus belongs to the family of Schlumbergera.
Who would ever imagine cactus would be a representation of Christmas. The Christmas cactus originated from the southeast tropical zone in the country of Brazil. The reason why they are named Christmas cactus is due to their flowering time.
Basically, we have 6 major species of Schlumbergera. Out of these species, a lot is assigned to be holiday cacti. This is because they bloom from September to February, thereby resulting in the name Christmas cactus and Thanksgiving cactus plant.
Types of Christmas Cactus
There are various types of Christmas cactus but they are generally categorized into two major groups namely:
1. Schlumbergera Truncata
The Schlumbergera truncata (also called the false Christmas cactus or zygocactus) group starts to blooms around thanksgiving till Christmas: Which is from middle November to late December. A few times, they might even bloom till January, depending on the variety of cactus you have.
Their bloom color varies from pink, red, golden-yellow, or white.
Schlumbergera truncata do well indoors and should be placed in a partial shade location. It is not a hardy plant. As such, when the temperature in your area drops to 30 degrees Fahrenheit, move your cactus plant indoors.
2. Schlumbergera Buckleyi
The Schlumbergera buckleyi group is a cactus houseplant that usually blooms more towards Christmas. They can also bloom around October, November (Thanksgiving).
Their blooms spread all over. They give distinctive and large vibrant flowers that will leave you breathtaking.
Closely Associated Cactus
The Easter cactus, the Thanksgiving cactus, and the Christmas cactus are all closely associated. Their flowers and stems are similar and it is quite common for people to mistake them for the same plants.
Difference between Christmas and Thanksgiving Cactus: How to Tell
A lot of times, people might have Thanksgiving cactus instead of Christmas cactus. Or even the other way round. It’s actually not a thing to worry about. The care and demands of these two cacti are both the same. They will only start to bloom at various times with a little dissimilar shape
Thus, the difference between Christmas cactus and Thanksgiving cactus is mainly from their shape of flowers and leave shape.
Also, the period their flower blooms can tell the difference between these cacti. Christmas cactus always blooms around late winter to early spring. While Thanksgiving cactus will bloom from fall through late winter.
Additional Information on Types of Christmas Cactus
No matter the type of cactus plant you have, be it Christmas or Thanksgiving, they will most likely brighten your home. They will bring some spark to your holidays with their gorgeous blooms.
They are great for gifting and receiving gifts during the holiday time of the year.
Another added benefit is that they can be passed down from one generation to the other. They are great for families and friends.
How do you care for Zygocactus?
Zygocactus is the common name of the Thanksgiving cactus. It sells as Thanksgiving cactus, Christmas cactus, or a holiday cactus.
Don’t keep your cactus from water because lack of water and sudden change of temperatures causes the flowers to drop.
- Soil. Use quality well-drained soils rich in humus and other nutrients
- Temperature. Maintain a consistent optimal climate of 65 degrees Fahrenheit
- Watering. Keep the soil moist when your plant is blooming. You can mist it if you notice it’s drying up.
- Light. Place the plant in an east-facing window for direct sun and moderate light.
- Fertilization. Apply potassium fertilizer every 2 weeks once the buds form
- Re-pot. Each year after flowering, repot your plant.
Plant in a container that has a drainage hole a size larger than the old one.
How often do you water a Zygocactus?
Only water the Christmas cactus when the top part of the soil is dry. But consider the climate and time of the year. If you are growing your Zygocactus outdoors in a hot and dry climate, consider watering it every 2 to 3 days. If it indoors, it might need water only once a week. Administer less water during the fall and winter seasons to encourage blooming.
Avoid over-watering because it leads to fungal rot diseases like white rot. Underwatering it on the other hand makes it wilt and its flower buds drop. This cactus does not tolerate dry soil.
Transplanting Christmas cactus
Christmas cactus is best transplanted after the blooming season ends and the flowers have wilted. This is either in late winter or early spring.
Do not repot Christmas cactus when it is actively blooming.
Do not rush to re-pot this plant because it thrives best when its roots are slightly crowded. Frequenting transplanting damages the plant, wait until the plant begins to look tired.
Prepare a well-drained potting mixture. You can use 2/3 regular potting soil and 1/3 sand.
It is best to use a container that has a drainage hole at the bottom. The Christmas cactus roots need air to survive.
Remove the plant from its pot with the soil ball and gently loosen the roots. If the soil ball is compacted, gently wash it away from the roots with water. In the new pot replant the Christmas cactus, so that the root ball is about an inch below the rim of the pot.
Fill the plant with the fresh potting mix around the roots and pat the ix to remove the air pockets. Water it moderately and put it in a shady location for 2 to 3 days. After the 3 days resume the plant’s normal care routine.
What is the lifespan of a Christmas cactus?
Usually, the Christmas cactus can live between 20 to 30 years. When properly cared for, the Christmas Cacti can live for 20 to 30 years.
Should you trim a Christmas cactus?
Yes, it is important to trim a cactus tree. The best time to do it is right after it has bloomed. Now, it will be entering a new growth period putting out new leaves. Pruning the Christmas cactus after it blooms will force it to branch out meaning it will grow distinctive stems.