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Schlumbergera Growing Page

Schlumbergera Growing Page

Aka Thanksgiving cactus or commonly called Christmas Cactus
Schlumbergera or Christmas Cactus and how to grow them

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Schlumbergera or Christmas Cactus are just as easy to grow as Epiphyllums and are very profuse bloomers in winter when most other plants are still sleeping. There vividly colored blooms are smaller than Epis but more profuse and just as spectacular! Schlumbergera can even grow well if cared for inside as house plants too. Schlumbergera or Christmas Cactus tend to bloom in the winter months when most other plants are semi-dormant, nights are cooler and daylight is reduced to 8-10 hours a day or less. Early Schlumbergera bloomers are called 'Thanksgiving Cactus' later bloomers true 'Christmas Cactus'.

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You will also find many varieties of Easter Cactus or (Rhipsalidopsis and Hatiora) offered on this website. Rhipsalidopsis or Easter Cactus have simular growing requirements and small segmented stem growth, but unlike Christmas Cactus tend to bloom in spring time not the middle of winter as Christmas Cactus does. Easter Cactus although simular in growth to Christmas Cactus do have slightly different growing requirements mostly timing for repotting etc in the seasons.

Click here to visit the 'Jungle Cacti Pest Page'

Check out the daylight calculator below to see when Schlumbergera might bloom at your location and time of the year. Garden Daylight Calculator page.

We Hope you enjoy our Schlumbergera or Christmas Cactus variety viewer below.
Displaying a few of the varieties available at

General Growing Requirements for Schlumbergera
(Also called Christmas Cactus or Zygo Cactus.)

Schlumbergera Soil Mix Types

Regular potting soil will work fine as a base for most Schlumbergera varieties. Some like a more airy soil mix so you can add perlite to the potting soil. Good drain holes for the pot Schlumbergeras are planted in is a must. Schlumbergera like rich soil that drains well. Some growers use potting soil as a base then add other ingrediants such as peat moss, perlite, sand and even a little manure too. We use our Epiphyllum recipe #1 soil mix listed in our soil mix page but we add to that mix a little extra perlite and remove excess orchid bark to deter rot. Schlumbergera growers have different mixes due to not every climate is the same in humidity, rainfall or airflow in there own growing locations. Just stay with the basic Schlumbergera requirements of rich but fast draining soil and you will be successfull growing Schlumbergera.

New Schlumbergera cuttings your trying to root like even better drainage so 20% perlite or sand added to a mix for rooting Schlumbergera does very well for rooting individual stem segments.

For more information on soil mixes please visit our Soil Mix Page!

Schlumbergera Light Requirements

Part shade is best, about 30 to 40% shade. Full sunlight is ok for an hour or two near cooler coastal regions but not much more than that.

If indoors a bright window out of direct sunlight, an hour of strong morning sunlight or afternoon sunlight is fine but not much more than that. In areas of your house with lower light levels Schlumbergera will grow well with artificial light also.

Schlumbergera Water Requirements

In hot summer days water Schlumbergera a few times a week or more often if very hot temperatures, misting on hot days is something they like to cool them down. So as example in 90 degree weather you may water your Schlumbergera well twice that week and mist once in between. Water less if cooler weather. In winter if no rain once a week is usually enough. Schlumbergera are not desert cactus but instead are Jungle Cactus so they cannot be dry for many days in a row in warm weather. In winter Schlumbergera are growing slower so less water is required but they need to be kept moist in 2/3 of the pot at all times. They like to dry out on there surface between watering so never water until the top 1/3 of the soil is dry in winter. Lift any planted in pots touching the ground to be sure they drain well at all times. You can elevate Schlumbergera pots using plant stands, bricks or ceramic pot feet. Some Schlumbergera with pendulous type growth do very well in 10 to 12" hanging baskets also.

Indoors follow the same principle of allowing the top 1/3 of soil in the pot to be dry before watering again. Since summer and winter temperatures are not very relavent if grown indoors. Humidity could be a bigger factor indoors or a lack of airflow. Good airflow is a must. Many growers grow Schlumbergera in all types of indoor enviroments but until you experiment with areas of growing indoors by or near a door or window would be your first best choice.

Shlumbergera red fuchsia

(Above pictured is a mature Schlumbergera in full bloom.)

Schlumbergera Types of Pots to choose

Schlumbergera can be grown in hanging baskets or ground pots. Tall ground pots can be elevated or placed on a plant stand due to the branches of many Schlumbergera varieties eventually curving downward once stems gain length and mature. Many varieties are upright when young but most will eventually bend downward and turn pendulous. Plastic baskets are great for the more pendulous varieties. Ceramic pots maybe more desirable where rainfall and humidity are higher due to there ability to breath better. Unglazed ceramic pots are best for good breathing of the soil and roots inside the pot.Schlumbergera can be planting in a variety of pot styles and materials but always keep in mind that each pot has good drainage with adaquate drain holes. Also never plant a small plant in a huge pot, try to keep them in a pot up to twice the size of the root ball and no larger.

Schlumbergera when and how much to Fertilize

Schlumbergera like to be fertilized in the warm growing season to promote new growth and vigour to established stems. Schlumbergera like to be fertilize regularly every month with any lowerer Nitrogen formula fertilizer of 10-6-8 or equivalent. Foliar types work best, but all season types like water soluable or temperature activated all season granular fertilizers work good too. If all you find at your local garden shops is higher formulas just cut the doze in half if for instance a formula of 21-16-8 etc. We also carry many fertilizers in our supply section. Bloom fertilizer can be applied at the end of summer to help promote larger fuller blooms in Schlumbergera. Formulas can be 0-10-10 or equivalent. Most Schlumbergera need little extra fertilizer to produce blooms as there triggers to bloom are different than other plants as will be discussed in the next section. But by applying bloom fertilizer you can help to increase size and numbers of the blooms.

What triggers Schlumbergera to Bloom

Unlike Epiphyllum and other types of plants Schlumbergera will not require several seasons from a cutting to bloom, even small plants can bloom if conditions are right. Schlumbergera will bloom regularily when one or more conditions are present but with regular fertilizing mentioned above you can get more numerous blooms. Schlumbergera bloom when daylight gets shorter in winter,typically under 8 hours of daylight. Cooler winter nights below 50-60 degrees also help with bud formation. If you’re growing indoors in a cold region place them by a window that can be partially opened to allow a little cool air in to facilitate this beginning in late Sept.thru December depending if early-Thanksgiving type or late-Christmas Cactus type. Also if grown indoors move to a spot where no extra artificial light is given until blooms begin to open, then place in a spot it can be admired. Schlumbergera will reward you with many blooms when most plants are dormant, a nice way to add some cheerful color in the cold winter months. Many can bloom several times in one season. The cooler nights mentioned above not only help induce budding but how cold it gets during budding can effect the bloom colors also. Some hybrid Schlumbergera can have different bloom colors from one season to the next. A bright yellow hybrid can be dark yellow the next or a dark red can be light red etc. This happened due to temperature when the Schlumbergera buds were developing.

How to make Schlumbergera or Christmas cactus bloom (Induce blooming)
(This can be done in 2 different ways described below.)

Temperature method -keep evening temperatures 45-60f anything above 60 f will give you some growth but no or few if any blooms.

Light method- short light 8 hours or less of daylight or artificial light given at temperatures above 60 f- this takes about a month to see results. Its the most common way commercial nurseries induce blooming to time there blooms to the lucrative holiday season. Place your Schlumbergera in a lower light location, a basement, greenhouse with 70% shade cloth, or other low light location that can be made suitable.

Other Schlumbergera facts and notes to keep in mind; If your Christmas Cactus always blooms prior November keep it warm and give ten hours or more of artificial light until the week before thankgiving then use the light method detailed above and you too can have blooms closer to Christmas time.

Temperatures- Schlumbergera are not desert cactus, there species of which most originate from Brazil in a jungle type climate. They like warmer temperatures to grow well in summer and then will bloom at lower evening temps once winter arrives. Schlumbergera can not tolerate freezing temperatures though, so always keep them above 32 degrees in winter. Although Christmas Cactus bloom at lower temperatures there stems grow best in warm summer type weather at 70-85 degrees but they can tolerate a range slightly above up to 100 degrees and below this range to 35-40 degrees just fine.

How to root Schlumbergera or Christmas Cactus cuttings

Each Schlumbergera stem segment can be cut off and placed ˝ way into loose potting soil mix with about 20% sand or perlite added. Allow one or two days for the cut ends to dry, leave in a cool dry spot until ready to plant or root them. Rooting cuttings is very easy! See below for step by step pictures of how to root Schlumbergera cuttings. The biggest mistake made is many water new cuttings too much this only causes rot to set in. Remember they have no roots yet so the Schlumbergera stem segments have no way to absorb excess water at there base yet. Only mist the stem segments to keep them hydrated until roots appear. Once rooted you can water the newly rooted Schlumbergera the same as metioned above earlier

Repotting your established Schlumbergera plant

Repotting Schlumbergera is best done every season after blooming and as soon as it begins to warm. If the growth looks robust and healthy you might not need to repot every year. Some large plants can go 2-3 seasons without repotting if nessary but repotting every year in spring will ensure you have a great bloom display come winter. If the folage looks poor or not darker green then repot right after blooming in late winter or early spring. If you decide not to repot follow fertilization recommended above regularily to maintain sturdy healthy looking growth. Its very normal for blooming sized Schlumbergera to have a maroon or reddish color in the foilage during blooming and right after. Let them rest after they put on there wonderfull bloom show but be ready to repot into fresh soil mix once it warms again. During the warm months reddish or marron growth can also be a sign of a little too much sunlight exposure.If thats the case just give your Schlumbergera a little more shade.

Shlumbergera fuchsia

Schlumbergera Species
Most of the Schlumbergera offered on this website are Hybrids with very showy flowers that were hybridized from species originating from Brazil. I listed some of the species below. These species grow in the branches of jungle trees, a few grow in cracks of large rocks or boulders near rivers and streams. Some have very different growth from hybrids and in general are more cold sensitive than hybrids.

Schlumbergera candidus

Schlumbergera gaertneri

Schlumbergera obtusangula

Schlumbergera orssichiana

Schlumbergera russellianum

Schlumbergera truncata

Below shows three diagrams of the most often hybridized varieties from left Thanksgiving Cactus-(Schlumbergera truncata), Christmas Cactus-(Schlumbergera x buckleyi) , Easter Cactus-(Rhipsalidopsis gaertneri). Notice the points on the edge of the stems on the first diagram; Thanksgiving Cactus, and smoother edges of Christmas Cactus.

Schlumbergera truncataThanksgiving CactusSchlumbergera x buckleyi Christmas cactusRhipsalidopsis gaertneri Easter Cactus

Explanation of scientific names:

Schlumbergera-named after Frederick Schlumberger, a student of plants.
Bridgesii- named for R. Bridges
Truncata-truncate, cut off square, in reference to the ends of the stems.
Gaertneri- named for E. Gaertner.

How To Root Schlumbergera Cuttings

Schlumbergera have segments where the stems get narrow at points, each of these points is where they can be cut and rooted.

The picture below show an example of three sizes of the typical Schlumbergera branches you will receive from, at a minimum you will be able to make 3+ segments from any branch you receive-usually many more.

Schlumbergera branches picture 1

Below shows the smallest branch you could receive, marked #1 before it is cut into segments to be rooted and another picture showing it after segment separation into 5 segments. The tiny piece in the middle bottom is not used and should be discarded as its too small to root.

Schlumbergera branch number 1
Schlumbergera individual segment separation

Each segment of the same variety is then planted into a small pot 3" to 4" in diameter. Placing each segment deep enough in the soil mix to stand up on its own, with no more than 1/2 of the individual segment being placed into the soil mix. We send a label with each variety you purchase. If the cuttings are received during bloom time remove any buds and or blooms prior to rooting, so the new cuttings can concentrate on rooting instead of wasting energy on blooming.Once there as large as the last picture below they are large enough to support the blooms.

Schlumbergera stem segments planted

In a few weeks your segments will get roots and should begin to show signs of new growth near the top of each segment. Water lightly every day or other day until well rooted. Change the soil every three months or so on smaller plants taking cuttings to start more as new growth allows. Upsize the container its in until you have a dozen or more in a large pot or hanging basket. You can also purchase several branches of the same variety to speed this up.

Below shows what to typically expect in a few months or in a season of what your small segments will become in that short time.

Schlumbergera rooted after 6 months

How to Root Schlumbergera Segments Video

Below is a video from our EPI-TV production studio which also shows you step by step how to root Schlumbergera or Christmas Cactus cuttings. Please leave comments there after viewing the video, we love to hear from you!

The Schlumbergera Database Project

The Purpose Of The Schlumbergera Database

To assist hybridizers in choosing Schlumbergera to cross. Also growers and collectors in choosing the best variety for there location. In having a list of approximate bloom times of either early or late bloomers they can better decide varieties to test as a potential cross. It also will list there hybrid name(s) and flower colors as there’s only partial lists of named varieties available in any one location, website, book or any other form of list worldwide.

To visit 'The Schlumbergera Database' page and to submit the varieties you grow into 'The Schlumbergera Database Submitter' simply click the link below.

Once you grow Schlumbergera plants for a short while, you will realize how easy they are to care for. Should you have any questions or difficulty growing just e-mail us.

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