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Schlumbergera known as christmas cactus

christmas cactus in bloom

 

Schlumbergera with red flowerIt originates in Brazil, more specifically in the tropical and mountainous areas of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo.

They grow between 1,000 m and 1,700 m of altitude, on the branches of trees (epíficas), in the heat of tropical and humid forest, with high precipitation.

However, these cacti, repel water and remain dry most of the time.

Hence, these cacti are very different from the rest of the cactus, from desert areas.

Therefore, the Christmas Cactus or Schlumbergera, develop in the shade although it favors the humidity and on the contrary to other cactus of the desert, they do not have a period of rest in winter.

 

christmas cactus in a potThey live on the branches of the trees, but they do not parasitize the tree, between rocks and ravines in  rugged areas.

What is the Christmas Cactus.

They have flat, long stems and composed of segments with jagged edges, of intense green color that with time turn reddish, as chained and hanging.

From each segment new stems grow, which with growth, can not be kept upright and hang down, so that the stems are fallen.

The flowers have a tubular or star shape, with red, pink, white or orange petals and backwards.

They bloom during the winter.

You can anticipate the flowering, if we put them, from late summer, at a temperature of 18ºC to 20ºC and with good lighting.

The flowers measure around 6 cm to 8 cm in length and from pink to dark red.

How to take care of the Schlumbergera.

The first care you should pay attention to is light, since the Christmas cactus needs a lot of natural light. Therefore, you will have to pay attention to where you place the plant. We advise you to do it near a window, since it is the best way to get natural light. However, you do not have to be in a place where the sun hits directly on it. That is, the plant needs light but indirectly , because if it does it  dry the leaves and hinder its growth.

 

The Schlumbergera endures the weak winter sun, but not the summer sun.

In the summer season, it is good to take it outside, but in the shade.

If you have it outside, beware of frost.

It is grateful to have humidity in the environment, so you can spray the air. On the hottest days you can spray the leaves.

  • Temperature : needs temperatures that oscillate between 15 and 22ºC.
  • Humidity : the humidity must be at least 50%, something you can achieve by vaporizing the leaves every 2-3 days when the environment is dry.

How to water and fertilize the Schlumbergera.

The best water, will be with decalcified water, by sprinkling and in warm weather, twice a week.

When floral buds come out, we will water, trying not to wet the buds.

You should let the substrate dry completely every two waterings, while in winter it should be more distributed, allowing it to dry in all the irrigations. Do not irrigate the flowers directly and use soft water that does not have lime, such as rainwater or bottled water.

Always avoid puddling in the pot.

 

When winter arrives, water slightly, even in flowering.

If you see the tip of the leaves limp , it will probably be an excess of irrigation, instead of lack of water as many people think.

In October, just two months before the flowering occurs, you must stop watering the Christmas cactus completely . In November, a month before, you can water it a couple of times, but without abusing it. In addition, you should also stop watering the plant right after it blossoms. You have to give the plant a break of about two months once the buds and flowers have come out, that is, right after Christmas. You also have to keep in mind is that there are no puddles because if they can not rot and create fungi on the leaves.

For a correct fertilization of the Schlumbergera, use a special fertilizer for cactus from, more or less fortnightly, from spring to autumn.

It should be rich in phosphorus and potassium, as this encourages flowering.

If it appears weak, water with specific fertilizer for cactus.

You must place fertilizer in summer until autumn, once a month at least.

OTHER CARE FOR THE CHRISTMAS CACTUS

For the container, serve any plant pot. If you live in a city with a dry climate or with low humidity, you should put a container with water under the pot so that when it evaporates, that moisture reaches the plant. To fill the pot you need 3 parts of earth and 1 of sand. If the plant is in the growth phase, it will need some type of fertilizer to keep it in good condition . It is good to do it a couple of times a year, as indicated by the manufacturer of the fertilizer, but it is not good to do it a month before it starts to bloom.

If we put a small container with water under our Christmas cactus, we will help it to have more moisture and grow healthier

Once you have planted the cactus in the pot, it is not necessary to change it until after 2 or 3 years. They usually grow without any problem, unless they contract some disease. Therefore, until the roots do not occupy all the space, until the soil has no more nutrients, you should not change to the pot plant . However, if you have to do it remember to use new and fresh soil, to give the plant the best conditions . In addition, we recommend that you transplant in spring, between the months of February and April.

How to multiply the Schlumbergera

The multiplication is done in a simple way, from stem cuttings made during the second half of spring.

To do this, cut segments of stem, leaving the area of ??the cut to dry for 24 hours (generate a callus) and put them in the moist substrate or compost vertically.

 

The best time is from May to June, but you can also do it in varano and getting them to bloom the following winter.

They can also be grafted.

Transplantation : you should do it in the spring and every two years, always using a larger pot so that in those two years you can grow without problems.

How to grow christmas cactus from cuttings

If you have a Christmas cactus and you want to reproduce it, you can easily do it with a leaf cutting as with many succulents. We are going to see this simple process that will allow us to multiply our Christmas cactus in a short time.

 

Reproduction of Christmas cactusAfter flowering, in spring, it is the best time to remove the cuttings that we will take advantage of the pruning that we will do when the flowers are withering. We need at least two sections of sheet to start, better to be three to make sure.

 

We put the leaf in a container with water. Two sections of the leaf should be covered by water. We will put the container in a well-lit place but where it does not receive direct sun at any time. We will let the roots develop until they have a length similar to that of the leaf.

 

Now we will prepare a small pot with 2 parts of substrate for 1 of coarse sand or vermiculite. We water and leave the pot in a place where it has a temperature of 21ºC approximately during the day and between 15 and 18ºC during the night.

Christmas cactus with orange flower

We will treat our little  Schlumbergera  more as if it were an ordinary plant than a cactus. We will water when the substrate dries almost completely and we will pay monthly from spring to autumn with a fertilizer for indoor plants.

 

What are the diseases of the Christmas Cactus.

The main enemies, of the Schlumbergera, are undoubtedly the cottony Cochineal and the aphids.

Also, in very dry environments, it can be attacked by the Red Spider.

The cottony cochineal attacks in summer with the callos.

As immediate mediated, eliminate them by passing a cloth soaked in methyl alcohol also known as Methanol.

The aphids, remove them by spraying with soapy water, then dry the attacked surface. Snail also like to eat Schlumbergera so be mindful. READ HOW TO ELIMINATE PEST FROM CACTUS

 

Some tips for the good health of the Schlumbergera Cactus

As rules of use for the control of the good state of the plant we must avoid:

  • The water puddles, after the irrigations. They can cause the appearance of fungi and the rotting of the stems and roots.
  • Fertilizer  in excess and outside the recommended time. They may not flourish due to excess fertilization.
  • Turn the plant towards the light, when it has growing buds. The buds can fall, if you force them to turn.
  • Air currents or dryness due to lack of irrigation. The flowers can fall without even opening.
  • Keep it in darkness. You will notice loss of color in the stems.

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