Christmas Cactus- Zygocactus
The following instructions are to help you successfully grow your Christmas Cactus (Zygocactus). However, even if you were to treat them as ordinary houseplants, they would thrive, as they are strong, easy-to-grow plants. These notes are a guideline to refer to when you have questions, but do not feel pressed to follow them to the letter.
Zygocacti like to stay evenly moist but not wet or soggy. When soil dries on top (but not all the way down), water thoroughly. Give them good air circulation and plenty of good, bright light. Outdoors, in mild weather, they like light shade or very filtered sunlight. They cannot tolerate frost.
Christmas Cacti respond to light feedings with diluted liquid fertilizer during spring and summer growing seasons. Use any good houseplant fertilizer or African Violet food every two to three weeks. Stop fertilizing in early September to allow buds to set. Do not transplant or move the plant once buds have set. Resume fertilizing after flowering.
If transplanting, disturb as few roots as possible. Press the soil firmly around the plant. Do not bury the plant too deeply – use the same soil line that it presently has. Leave a half inch space from the top of the pot to your soil line for watering.
Use a porous soil. For example, use four parts of high quality soil mix that is high in nutrients such as peat moss or leaf mold, amended with two parts perlite or pumice. The epiphytic cacti prefer a soil that is slightly acidic, and the liberal use of peat moss will provide this slight acidity.This is a great soil mix for your Christmas Cactus. If you can find a pre-packaged cactus soil mix, feel free to use it. If you should use clay pots, remember that they dry out faster and will need watering more often.
Light and Temperature
Christmas Cacti (Zygocacti) make excellent indoor plants. They will be happy in a bright spot on your windowsill. They will also thrive on a patio or under a tree as long as they receive a good dose of partial sun (not full sun). Bring them inside before it freezes in the fall. They will tolerate a low temperature down to 27°F but prefer 45°F to 60°F night time temperature.
Your Christmas Cacti will grow larger and more handsome every year, producing more flowers.
Specific Details about the variety
The word "Zygocactus" is often used to refer to this plant, but merely describes the manner in which the joints are connected and is of no taxonomical importance. Zygocacti are actually Schlumbergera hybrids( correct botanical name) between Schlumbergera truncatus and Schlumbergera bridgesii, and are also known as Schlumbergera X 'Buckleyii' .
Schlumbergera truncatus blooms closer to Thanksgiving while Schlumbergera bridgesii blooms closer to Christmas, but through hybridization there is now much overlapping of blooming times. Schlumbergera are epiphytes (tree-dwelling) originating in montainous rainforests of Brazil , and as such, enjoy perfect drainage.
Reproducing this culture will help to ensure the health of your plant. Zygos require a slightly acidic, very porous soil with excellent drainage that never allows the plants to become waterlogged. Zygos should be watered thoroughly when soil surface is dry to the touch, but it is best that the lower portion of the soil is never allowed to dry completely.
Excellent as hanging basket plant on a sheltered patio, or can be brought indoors in a bright area with excellent airflow.
Enjoy a profusion of butterfly-like flowers in a multitude of colors from late October through early January.