Holiday Cactus

The Schlumbergera species, which includes the holiday cactus, get their common names from their time of flowering: Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter.

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The flowering holiday cactus is named for the time of its flowering -- holidays such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter.

Their scientific names are in an interesting state because of the hybridization that has taken place over the years. They come from the jungles of tropical South America and are similar, but smaller, than the Epiphyllum (orchid cactus).

Most of them are epiphytic (grow high in trees) and have no spines. They have flat, jointed leaves that grow in chains one to two feet long. The flowers range in color from white through rose, red, lavender, and purple.

They need short days (eight hours) or cold nights (55°F) for flowering. Give schlumbergera filtered to bright light and organic soil with good drainage. Keep the plants evenly moist while they are actively growing, and drench and let dry during their resting period. If the soil gets too dry, the end joints drop off; if it gets too wet, the plant will rot.

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Caring for your cactus: