Is it that time of year already? Time for the holiday cacti to grace our houses with their decorative blooms in shades of red, white and pink.
Named after the holiday season in which they flower, holiday cacti are epiphytic plants that grow naturally on jungle trees.
Easy to look after and long-blooming, these are extremely popular houseplants, and there are three different types; Christmas, Thanksgiving and Easter.
Christmas cactus | Schlumbergera bridgesii
Thanksgiving cacti are often sold as Christmas cacti. Both belong to the genus Schlumbergera and are native to the tropical forests of Brazil, however, there are two main differences between them, namely, flowering time and leaf-shape.
Christmas cacti have flattened leaves with scalloped margins, as opposed to Thanksgiving cacti, which produce sharply serrated leaf edges. And let's not forget about the Easter cactus! Easter cacti have rounded leaves with smooth edges and small bristles at leaf joints and broader flowers, whereas the other two cacti produce more tubular-shaped flowers. These three types of holiday cacti are named after the respective holiday season in which they bloom, in the Northern Hemisphere.
The difference between the three cacti is found in the shape of the leaves.
How to care for
As they are natural jungle-dwellers, holiday cacti prefer semi-shaded, humid environments. In the UK, they tend to grow from April until September and grow well in temperatures between 18 and 20°C.
In the case of the Christmas cactus, the flowering buds start to develop from mid-September, as the temperature drops and daylight length shortens.
Non-flowering is usually due to day-length not shortening or temperatures not dropping sufficiently below 18°C.
From January until March, you can reduce watering and put in a cooler spot of about 12-15°C.
Re-pot once every one or two years into a slightly larger pot before the growing season begins in April to maintain healthy growth. They like to be snug.
Holiday cacti are really easy to take cuttings from, due to their segmented leaf-like stems.
You shouldn't have much of a problem with pests and diseases - Mealybugs are the only common pest.
Make sure to get your hands on one of these easy and beautiful plants to brighten up the colder winter months, and maybe Easter too! I'm trying to collect all the colours.
Is your holiday cactus flowering? Be sure to share a pic and hashtag #holidaycactus
Read more about cacti here: