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Belle's Greenhouse

Christmas Cactus

Christmas Cactus

Regular price $22.50 USD
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A Christmas cactus is a type of succulent that's named for the time of year it blooms—though it's also called Thanksgiving cactus or Easter cactus for the same reason. It's a remarkable houseplant that can live up to 100 years under the right conditions! 

Strictly technically speaking, Christmas cacti don’t have a natural habitat. They’re a hybrid species resulting from crosses between two members of the same genus: Schlumbergera truncata (Thanksgiving cactus) and russelliana. So where do these parent species naturally hail from?

Both are jungle cacti (or tropical cacti), meaning they don’t occur in the arid habitats many of their other cactus cousins do. They’re originally found in the same small area in tropical southeastern Brazil, where they grow in moist, high-altitude forests, soaking up the humidity, dappled sunlight, and balmy temperatures.

Jungle cacti like the Christmas cactus are sometimes considered difficult to care for, but they’re actually not too challenging.

The problem is that folks tend to treat them like “regular” cacti, but as we’ve seen, they don’t come from arid habitats. They’re a tropical forest species, meaning they like a bit more water and less harsh sun than their desert cousins.

Light: Although some morning or late afternoon sun is perfectly fine and probably appreciated, your Christmas cactus doesn’t need the intense light that desert cacti do. It likes a bright spot on a windowsill, but indirect light is mostly the way to go. 

Watering: Although they do have the capacity to store some water in their fleshy leaf segments, Christmas cacti aren’t quite as efficient at this as their desert cousins. Don’t let yours go without for too long, or it might turn wrinkly and even start dropping foliage. Keep your Christmas cactus’ soil lightly moist from the start of the growing season in spring through to when the blooming period ends. After that, you can let the soil dry out a bit more, though make sure it never goes bone dry. You’ll probably be watering about twice a week during summer if your cactus is in a well-lit spot, while in winter it may only need a sip every week and a half or so. 

The ASPCA lists Christmas cacti as non-toxic for both dogs and cats―neither the cactus nor the flowers are poisonous to pets

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