How to Care for Imposters (AKA the Christmas Cactus)
Schlumbergera x buckleyi is a bit of a mouthful, so thankfully we all know them by their common name instead: the Christmas cactus! These delightful plants are perfect for decorating indoors for the holidays, adding intrigue and a pop of color to your decor. They even help clean the air! Here’s why we love them and how to take care of them as long-lasting houseplants:
They May Not Look Like a Cactus, But We Still Love Them
Christmas cacti are not officially members of the cactus family, with their flat leaves and pointed edges, they look more like a cross between a cactus and a succulent. They have uniquely-shaped blooms that come in shades of white, pink, red, orange, and even purple, and they’re fabulous houseplants all year round. We call them Christmas cacti simply because of the time of year they bloom: around Christmas! You can also find Thanksgiving and Easter cacti, which bloom around their respective holidays as well. We highly recommend adding one to your collection or gifting a Christmas cactus to your loved ones.
How to Care for Your Christmas Cactus in NY
Though they share the name cactus, Christmas cacti have slightly different care requirements than those of their cousins. Here’s the rundown on how to take the best care of your new plant:
Keep It Out of the Direct Sun
Partial or diffused light is the best for your Christmas cactus. Too much sun can damage the leaves and cause yellowing. Setting it near an east-facing window or in the middle of the room is the best way to keep it happy in the light.
Water More Often Than a Cactus
The Christmas cactus has tropical origins, so it needs water a bit more often than your standard cactus, up to a couple of times a week during the summer. If you notice your plant’s leaves are shriveling a bit, it’s time for more water, but make sure you let the soil dry completely before giving it any more.
Keep It Humid!
Tropical plants like humidity, so make sure you keep your Christmas cactus moist; this is particularly important with the extra heat in our homes over the winter! You can mist your plant regularly, add a pebble tray underneath it with water to evaporate, or keep a humidifier in the room.
Plant in Almost Any Soil
Unlike normal cactus plants, Christmas cacti aren’t picky about their potting medium! You can plant in cactus soil, loamy soil, and even sandy soil, and it will adapt just fine; just make sure to plant it in a well-draining container, ideally a terra cotta or ceramic pot. To make it extra happy, you can add some peat moss to make the soil more acidic. A pH between 5.5 and 6 is the ideal window for optimal growth.
Do Not Fertilize Through Winter
Once your Christmas cactus starts forming buds, stop fertilizing and wait until its blooming season is over before you resume. A balanced fertilizer applied on a semi-regular basis through the spring and summer will yield the best results.
Did You Know Christmas Cacti Are Safe Around Kids and Pets?
Well, they are! Since they don’t have needles, Christmas cacti might be a bit more appealing to little hands and curious noses. Thankfully, these delightful plants are very safe, causing—at the very most—an upset tummy if ingested. Follow up with your local health line or veterinarian while monitoring any symptoms, but you shouldn’t have to worry too much if you find some of your plants stems missing!
Visit us at Dees’ Nursery today to pick up your own Christmas cacti in NY. We have plenty available for your holiday decor needs in a variety of bloom colors.