Christmas Cactus is a great plant for more than the holidays
By Kathy Conner Cornell VCE Southside Master Gardener Years ago, and I mean years ago like over 50, a friend gave me a cutting from a Christmas cactus Schlumbergera that came from his Grandmother’s plant. I still have this plant through all those years and at least 3 moves later. I now have a few more and they always are a joy and easy to care for. A publication from Michigan Extension states that “The “trick” to getting Christmas cactus to bloom in the following years after purchase comes down to two things: light and temperature.” In my experience that is exactly correct. My husband and I like having our house on the cool side and in order to bloom Christmas cactus wants temperatures in the low 60’s, even into the 50’s. As for light, the plant needs to have sixteen hours of darkness and eight of light for an extended period of time. My sister asked why her plant never bloomed and I explained she had it near a window that had a street lamp outside so there was too much light. Just that amount of light can throw the flowering cycle off. The Chicago Botanical Garden suggests covering the plant with a bag, a paper one please but a dark pillow case or dark cloth would also work. Apparently cooler temperatures will offset some of the light aspects.