Sunday, December 16, 2007

Christmas Cactus

Native to Central and South America, Christmas cactus are actually epiphytes, plants that grow above ground level and rely on other plants to hold them up. About half of the 20,000 species of orchids are epiphytes, as are some lichens and algae. Learn something new everyday, don’t you.
Christmas cactus are similar to poinsettias in that they are short day plants that require long periods of uninterrupted darkness in order to flower. They also like cooler temperatures. Ann Larson in our interior plant department says that she gets great blooms from her cactus by leaving it outside at night when the nighttime temperatures are around 40-45 degrees for several nights.

As with most tropical plants, Christmas cactus require humidity to do well. This can be accomplished by placing the plant in a saucer filled with pebbles and water. The pot should be above the level of the water, but as the water evaporates it will provide the needed humidity.
After the plant has bloomed, give the plant a rest by placing it in a cool room with limited watering. After a month, repot if necessary ( they do like to be slightly root bound). If you need to pinch it back, do it in March or April when the new growth begins.

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