The Life & Times of a Christmas Cactus

This is the life of a Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera russelliana) from bud to bloom! Christmas cacti are actually native to the moist, mountainous region of coastal Brazil. This cactus is different from desert varieties in that it requires humidity and cooler temperatures in order to bloom and grow. I rescued this cactus from a grocery store almost a year ago. Almost all of its stems were dying of rot and it was generally pathetic. In order to save it I had to cut back the dying pads and had to dig out one rotting segment of the plant completely. I’ve replanted it twice in the last year and it’s been doing much better. This is my first Christmas cactus flower, and it’s been kind of a struggle. In order to get it to flower I let it live outside for a month while the weather was cooling off. This allowed the plant to sync with the season and within two weeks I had buds! I say it’s been a struggle because I’ve read conflicting information about how to water a Christmas cactus when it’s in bloom. I tried the “water sparsely” method and I think I water too sparsely because parts of the cactus scarred and then begin to die. I’ve been watering it once a week and it’s worked much better. I’m now experimenting with keeping the plant humid by putting the pot in a small tray of water. I’ve heard through the grape vine this encourages more buds.

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