Common Name: Christmas Cactus, Thanksgiving Cactus, Holiday Cactus
Scientific Name: Schlumbergera bridgesii
Lighting: Moderate to Bright
Water: Low to Moderate
Christmas Cactus plants are characterized by flat green foliage, which blooms periodically. Blooms are tubular in shape and can be in shades of reds, pinks, whites and yellows. These houseplants are extremely easy to care for. The trick comes in getting them to bloom.
Christmas Cactus prefer high amounts of indirect sunlight. Too much direct sunlight can burn the plant. These plants will grow in lower light levels; however will do much better in a more lighted location. A plant that receives its preferred light level will usually have more flowers during its blooming period. As with all houseplants, be sure to keep away from drafts, heating / cooling sources.
Even though its name contains Cactus, a Christmas Cactus is not a true cactus. Allow the soil to dry out in-between watering however do not let it dry completely. If your plant is not looking up to par, it is probably due to incorrect watering. I water mine thoroughly once every two weeks, however this will vary depending on your location of the plant.
To get your Christmas Cactus to bloom depends with the amount of sunlight it receives and temperatures. Temperature is a much harder variable to control. Most sources I've read have said you need a temperature range of 55 to 60 degrees for 4 to 6 weeks. However, temperature is something I don't have much control over so I use the following more common method to get my Christmas Cactus to bloom. Place your Christmas Cactus in complete darkness until buds develop. I use my spare room closet because no one is opening and closing it. If you are looking to have a beautiful bloomed plant by the holiday season, place your plant in darkness in mid to late October.
One pest that is common in this plant are mealy bugs. They are attracted to the sap of these cacti and will suck the sap. If you see the appearance of white bugs on your plant, try spraying with a soapy dishwater mixture twice a day. If within a week the bugs still remain, go to your local garden center to find the right spray to kill them.
Overall, this is a good choice for beginners or those without a great deal of time. View my list of easy to grow houseplants for other plant choices.