Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera bridgesii) is a popular winter-flowering houseplant that usually blooms over the holidays at the end of the calendar year. Varieties offer flowers in many different shades. Native to Brazil, Christmas cacti are epiphytes that grow in tree branches in rain forests. Since their stems hang down, they are perfect plants for hanging baskets. If a stem of your mature Christmas cactus is getting woody, it doesn’t mean that anything is amiss. That means that there is no reason to try fixing a Christmas cactus with woody stems. Read on for more information about woody Christmas cactus.
Woody Christmas Cactus Stems
A Christmas cactus that is cared for properly will last a long time, a quarter-century or even longer. Ideal Christmas cactus growing conditions include light shade in summer and full sunlight during fall and winter. Too much sun in summer pales or yellows the plants. Christmas cactus plants generally grow large with age. As the plant gets older and bigger, the base of the stems get woody. There is no need to think about fixing a Christmas cactus with woody stems. This is a perfectly natural condition and woody Christmas stems indicate a healthy plant.
Care of Old Christmas Cactus
If you buy or inherit an old Christmas cactus, it is likely a large plant. Proper care of old Christmas cactus includes cutting back overgrown branches and, sometimes, repotting the plant. One of the first steps in the care of old Christmas cactus is a good trim of the branches. When the branches become too long and heavy, they are likely to break off, so it’s better if you trim instead. This is especially true if the leaves look shriveled, thin, or limp at the ends. Trim the branches back by clipping at the segment joints. For overgrown cactus, cut each branch back by at least a third and up to three-quarters of its length. If a branch of the Christmas cactus is getting woody at the base, you can even cut it all the way back to the woody section. New green sections will grow from the wood.
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Teo Spengler has been gardening for 30 years. She is a docent at the San Francisco Botanical Garden. Her passion is trees, 250 of which she has planted on her land in France.
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