Cultivation of the Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera truncata)

We did not know what to put on the blog related to Christmas today. You may think that the poinsettia or Euphorbia Pulcherrima  would be the right thing to do, but that plant is already around our indoor plants section. Thinking for a while, a cactus came to mind whose name is very appropriate for these days. The Christmas cactus. This surprising cactus is another flower option to give as a gift on these dates.


Its scientific name is Schlumbergera truncata . This name is not unique, it has some more synonyms for different classifiers, although this is one of the best known. Anyway, I don’t think we’ll go to a florist asking for a Schlumbergera truncata having a name like Christmas cactus.

It’s called the Christmas cactus for its spectacular winter bloom . The common name may have been derived from the English name, known as the Thanksgiving cactus. As we do not have the tradition of thanksgiving and Christmas catches us starting winter, it is very possible that the name in Spanish will become the one we know.

The Christmas cactus has very good aptitudes as a hanging plant

It belongs to the cactus family, although it is a very special group. In addition to being a cactus, it is epiphytic, that is, it is served and lives at the expense of other vegetables, although without damaging them. If not it would be a parasite. It comes mainly from Central and South America.

Native to the forests of Brazil , it has subsequently been introduced by human hands in other similar dry and warm climates on other continents such as Australia, the Mediterranean area, some areas of Africa for example. Its flowers are amazing. You dare?


A very common mistake with this plant is that when it is called a Christmas cactus, many people think that it should be cared for by a cactus. Lots of direct sun and almost no watering. Big mistake. As we will now see, it is a plant that does not correspond at all to the principles of a cactus.


Being a plant of tropical latitudes, its preferences in terms of thermal regimes are approximately 20 to 25ºC. Even so, it supports lower temperatures, up to 10ºC, although it is not convenient to subject it too long or it will suffer.


At first you may think: Cactus = sun. Careful!. It is an epiphytic cactus native to the tropical forests of Brazil. It does not mean that it is a desert cactus. In its natural habitat it grows IN trees,  protected from direct rays by the dense mass of forest above it. For this reason, it is a plant that develops well in shady areas, although its greatest splendor will be achieved in illuminated environments with indirect incidence.

Flowering takes place in winter but we must not dismiss the beauty of its vegetative part.


It is exactly the same as with light. Cactus = almost zero watering. Well, we will be wrong again. Cacti have a special sensitivity to water in their root systems. It rots easily to little water that is in the substrate. In the case of the Christmas cactus, watering should be moderate, taking into account that its roots need moderate humidity. In the summer months the frequency of irrigation is shortened every 5 days. In months like spring and autumn, the frequency of irrigation will go to 15 days or something more even in winter


Let’s think a bit about its natural substrate. Tropical forests. This is difficult to imitate in a pot. What we are clear about is that a lot of organic matter and very good drainage are needed .

Those are the two most important pillars, therefore, a mixture of equal parts peat and sand with some garden soil will give us the substrate properties we need. There are specific fertilizers for cacti that we can use according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.

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