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Plant Profile: Christmas Cactus.

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Our childhood home has a wonderful sunroom on the south side of the house.  In the summertime, it was HOT.  But in the winter, it was a great spot to sit with a book and enjoy the winter light, warmth and plants.  Our mom faithfully watered her houseplants, cleaned and maintained them, and many of those plants are still thriving today.   Several of the beauties that she diligently cares for are Christmas Cactus.  They were passed along from her own mother, bloomed each winter and still do.

Common Name: Christmas cactus, Thanksgiving cactus, crab cactus, holiday cactus

Latin Name: Schlumbergera species

Family: Cactaceae

Growth Requirements  Plants enjoy indirect sunlight.  In their native habitat, Brazil, they grow as epiphytes. They naturally grow in small pockets on rocks or trees. They prefer filtered light, direct sun may burn the leaves.  As a houseplant, allow soil to thoroughly dry out between watering. Keep in a warm area, free from cold drafts.

Additional information:

There are two different groups of this genera of cactus.  The first group (Truncata) has much more asymmetrical, pointed leaves.  The one featured above is in this category.  It tends to bloom earlier in the year and is often coined the Thanksgiving cactus.  The rounded leaf variety (Buckleyi) tends to bloom a little later in the calendar year and is therefore typically called the Christmas cactus.  This one is featured below.

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