Schlumbergera

Common name: Christmas Cactus

Schlumbergera is an epiphytic, free flowering succulent, that grows to around 300mm (12") high, and 400mm (16") across, and is suitable for pots or hanging baskets.

The narrow 50-70mm (2"-3") pink to deep red flowers can appear anytime from October to January.

The flowers normally last for three or four days.

Flowering can be induced by manipulation of light levels.

Flowering takes place as the days shorten so placing plants in total darkness for 10-12 hours and using artificial light for the remainder of the day will speed up flowering.

Temperatures:

Plants can be placed outdoors in a sheltered position for the summer months after all fear of frost hast gone.

As temperatures decrease say to around 10°C (50°F), the pots should be brought back indoors.

Indoor temperatures up to 25°(75°F) will induce flower buds.

Once budded avoid fluctuating temperatures as this can cause bud drop.

After flowering; maintain a minimum winter temperature of 13°C (55°F)

Watering:

Moderate watering is key!

During the summer water a couple of times per week and reduce this to fortnightly during the winter months.

Cultivation

Week 15: Pot up plants into 150mm (6") diameter pots filled with an open compost mixture of equal parts (by volume) loam, peat, leaf-mould and sharp sand, add 30gms (1 oz) bone-meal per gallon bucket of mixed compost.

Plants should not need frequent potting on, in fact, a pot bound will often flower better than those in loose compost.

If plants fail to bloom or very few flowers are produced might mean that the plants want potting up.

Place pots in a well lit spot, avoiding direct sunlight, spray the plants with clean water regularly.

When flower buds form, feed once a week with half strength potash liquid feed, do not allow the compost to dry out, this may cause bud drop.

Propagation:

Week 26: Take leaf-bud cuttings by severing the stem at a joint.

Allow the cut surface to heal before inserting into pots/trays containing a 50-50 peat and sharp sand mixture.

Grow on, in a cool greenhouse or on a windowsill until rooted, then pot up into 75mm (3") pots of potting compost as described above.

Avoid placing them in direct sunlight.

Pests and Diseases:

Mealy bugs can be a problem!

These small brown bugs should be brushed / picked off, and the leaves wiped with an alchohol soaked cloth to deter their return.

Red spider mite can also be a problem. Avoid too dry an atmosphere regular spraying with clean water may deter them. Failing that use a suitable insecticide.

Bud Drop: This can be caused by a number of things! for example;

Irregular watering

Fluctuating temperatures and draughts.

Too much nitrogen and or insufficient potash in the compost.

Avoiding these situation is the best cure!





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