The jungle-covered mountains of Southeastern Brazil don’t exactly conjure images of Christmas time. So what does the rainforest have to do with the Holiday season?
Everyone’s favourite winter-blooming succulent, usually nicknamed the Christmas Cactus, calls these jungles home. In and out of fashion for hundreds of years since it was classified in 1815 (it’s very much back “in” right now) this popular houseplant’s well-timed winter flowers have always enchanted people.
Did I mention that it was not only pretty but super low maintenance too? All your plant-related Holiday wishes come true with the Christmas Cactus!
Care at Home:
The key here is to think “jungle.” How can you try to make your succulent at home in a habitat that feels familiar to them?
The most basic guideline here is to maximize humidity. Give your cactus a mist every day if possible. If you really want to cheat the dry winter air, place rocks in your plant’s saucer and fill it with water. This way the roots stay safe from soaking, but the evaporating water boosts the health of your cactus. And it’s not like you’ll be complaining about some extra humidity at home in the winter either!
On the topic of water, this plant is a bit thirstier than its desert cousins. When the top inch of the soil is dry, it’s time for another drink. Make sure that when you do water, you’re thorough to wash any salts out from the soil.
Along the guideline of thinking “jungle” with this plant, they’ll be much healthier away from direct sunlight. Christmas Cacti are also a lot happier in a more cramped pot, as long as it has some well-draining soil. Really what this comes down to is that you don’t have to re-pot as often! Maybe it’s being a good plant parent, maybe it’s being laid back - we won’t tell your secret either way!
Blooming at Christmas:So how do you know you’ll get a bloom on Christmas? Unfortunately, you don’t. Also called the Thanksgiving or Easter Cactus, you get the idea of how wide the window for flowers is. The trick is in tinkering with just how much light and moisture you give your little succulent, and how warm they are.
If you’re trying to be very picky and specific, you could try cutting back watering just a little and trying to keep the plant a few degrees colder once November hits. The easy way to accomplish this is just moving it closer to a window. In order to bloom, your cactus will need at least 12 hours of darkness, but in November and December that’s hardly difficult to manage. Winter daylight is short enough that you can get these hours naturally, without imprisoning your poor plant in a dark cellar.
Not-So-Christmas Christmas Cactus:
Some people are a little disappointed if they can’t get pretty blooms from their succulent in time for the Holidays. Don’t worry! If you’ve got a healthy plant, you’re doing fine. With a lengthy and sometimes bleak winter season, I’ve always found that the pretty flowers from a Christmas Cactus are welcome at any point.