21 January 2012

“Christmas” cactus

When we moved into this house in 2003, I found a big Schlumbergera growing in an old clay pot down in the garage. I wonder if it had been watered during the two+ years that the house had stood empty before we bought it.

I moved it upstairs when we settled in that summer, and I started watering and feeding it regularly. I still have it, and it's going strong. It didn't flower much this year, probably because December was so gray and rainy, and it didn't get much sunlight.

But over the years, I've broken off branches and started several new Christmas cactus plants. One of those sits on a window sill under one of the Velux roof windows we had put in year before last. It gets full western sun, such as it is during our gloomy winter. And it flowered quite a bit in December. It's nearly finished now.

I never realized until reading about them this morning that the Schlumbergera plants are leafless. It's the branches that are green and perform photosynthesis. In they wild, they grow in a small part of Brazil and are epiphytic (they grow on tree limbs) or epilithic (on rocks). They are very easy to keep, requiring little water and not that much direct sun.

I did posts about the original plant in 2008 and in 2006.


  1. Indeed, Botany Lesson #n - 'cladodes' - specially adapted flattened stems which function as leaves. In fact a surprising number of plants have them, including some local natives eg Butchers Broom. This is the shrub with the smallish dark green stiff 'leaves' with a spine on the tip and large round red berries which grows in the woodland understorey. I've been writing a lot of updates on Loire Valley Nature lately, so these botanical quirks and how to explain them to non-botanists are at the forefront of my mind at the moment.

  2. I have a plant that I rescued last year from a home where an aunt had died. It looked very sad and I did not think it was going to survive. For all that it was beautiful right through November and December this year.
    Thanks for the information. Diane

  3. Glad you were able to revive this beautiful plant.

  4. Evelyn, did you revive your Christmas cactus a few years ago by repotting it? I saw a comment about that from you on one of my old posts.

    Diane, good. The plant I found here nearly nine years ago probably needs repotting now. Maybe this spring or summer I'll finally get it done.

    Susan, thanks for that information.

  5. That's really pretty!

    Mine let me know that it doesn't like to be frozen. I hope it recovers.


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