christmas cactus

Christmas Cactus: Popular Cactus and Succulents

These rewarding house plants have enjoyed generations of well-deserved popularity. They are difficult to forget, for in bloom they are a rainbow of color, the leaves barely discernible under a cloud of flowers. Zygocactus, Schlumbergera and their hybrids do not resemble cactus as we know them: They have no spines or hooks, and the dark green flattened stems are somewhat like orchid cactus which are also from the same tropical rain forests where they share the trees with orchids and bromeliads. At one time, the plants were included in the genus Epiphyllum, but unlike orchid cactus, flowers appear at the ends of the stems rather than from the sides and are smaller but more profuse.

bordine finial fountain for cactus and succulentsThe blooms range from pea size to 1 inch across in white, cream, shades of orange, red, and fuchsia. Give plants an equal mix of fir bark and soil in small containers. In fall and winter see that they have plenty of sun; bright light is enough during the rest of the year. Soil should be kept moderately moist except in fall when roots need dryness and plants require coolness (500). Also in the fall, plants must have at least 12 hours of uninterrupted darkness daily for about six weeks to encourage budding. Any light which reaches the plant during a 12-hour dark period will interrupt or completely hinder bud formation. Once buds appear, regular watering may be resumed.

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