By Nikki Phipps
(Author of The Bulb-o-licious Garden)
Many people grow Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera bridgessii). This plant makes a great holiday gift for friends and family, so knowing how to propagate and grow Christmas cactus can help make this shopping easier and less hectic.
Propagating Christmas Cactus
Propagating Christmas cactus is easy. In fact, when it comes to the Christmas cactus, propagating is a great way to share this wonderful plant with others. Propagating Christmas cactus begins by simply taking a short, Y-shaped cutting from the stem tip. The cutting should consist of at least two or three joined segments. When doing Christmas cactus propagating, always be sure that cuttings are taken from healthy foliage. Allow the cutting to dry a few hours before potting it up for rooting, as to avoid potential stem rot from excessive moisture.
Rooting Christmas Cactus
Rooting Christmas cactus cuttings is simple. Once you’ve taken your cutting, place the segment in a moist peat and sand soil mix. Insert the segment about a quarter of its length below the soil surface. Place the pot in a well-lit area, avoiding direct sunlight.
Water the cutting sparingly at first to prevent rotting. After about two or three weeks of rooting Christmas cactus cutting, the cutting should start showing signs of growth at the tips of its leaves, which is usually reddish in color.
Once your cutting has rooted, it can be transplanted into a pot with loose potting soil, preferably with a little sand or compost added. The cutting may wilt some in the beginning, but this is normal and will eventually subside once the plant has taken to its new environment. The Christmas cactus may be watered more frequently, fertilized and given additional light at this time. Christmas cactus propagating doesn’t get any easier than this.
Grow Christmas Cactus
While Christmas cactus can adapt to and be grown in low light, the plant will produce more blooms with brighter light conditions. However, stay away from direct sunlight, which may burn the leaves. Don’t allow this plant to dry out completely between watering intervals. Christmas cactus also enjoys average to high humidity with temperatures hovering between 60-70 degrees F.
Placing the pot on a tray of pebbles and water can add more humidity to drier surroundings. Watering should be done frequently and thoroughly, keeping the soil moist but not saturated. Make sure there is adequate drainage provided to prevent the Christmas cactus from rotting.
Apply a mild houseplant fertilizer every other week. Water and fertilize regularly in spring and summer; however, during the winter months, this plant should be kept on the dry side, withholding water for six weeks.
Growing and propagating Christmas cactus can be very rewarding, especially when you give them to others during the holidays.