Schlumbergera bridgesii, also known as Christmas cactus, belongs to the Cactaceae family and includes over 80 species of flowering succulents from South America. Because Christmas cactus plants are native to the rainforests of Brazil, they do best when kept indoors in indirect sunlight, with temperatures between 60 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit (15-24°C).
They are epiphytic plants that grow naturally in Central and South America. While they are still considered to be succulents (meaning they store water in their leaves), they don’t require as much watering as other succulents do. This makes them the perfect plant to add to your collection of plants this holiday season!
However you care to celebrate it, the Christmas season always seems to be accompanied by the joyous appearance of the ever-popular Schlumbergera bridgesii.
Despite this plant’s popularity, many people don’t know how to care for their Christmas cactus properly, causing them to end up dead within just a few months of receiving it.
Don’t let your buckleyi christmas cactus die from neglect; with proper care, your plant can last for many years!
Here are some tips on how to care for your Schlumbergera bridgesii.
Origin and distribution
Schlumbergera bridgesii, also known as the Christmas cactus, is a cactus native to Brazil. It is named after its bloom time, which is typically around Christmastime in the Northern Hemisphere. The plants grow between four and eight inches tall and can live up to 30 years with proper care.
The flowers have five petals that are either pink or red and can be either white or yellow at the center. There is a small amount of nectar inside the flower, but it does not attract any animals or insects for pollination. Instead, these plants rely on wind-pollination and self-pollination to reproduce.
You will find seed pods under the plant near the soil where you planted it. These seeds need to be exposed to temperatures below 35 degrees Fahrenheit before they will germinate.
Schlumbergera bridgesii propagation
One of the easiest ways to propagate your Schlumbergera bridgesii is by taking stem cuttings. Look for healthy stems that are about 4-6 inches long and snip them just below a leaf joint. Allow the cuttings to callous over for a few days before potting them up in the well-draining cactus mix.
Water lightly and keep the soil moist but not soggy until roots have formed. Once your plant is established, water it only when the soil has completely dried out. You can help prevent overwatering by placing rocks or pebbles in the bottom of your pot and allowing it to drain.
However, if you’re growing outdoors or indoors with a humidifier, you may need to water more often than once every week or two. If you notice any brown spots on your leaves, this indicates either overwatering or lack of light; move the pot to a brighter location, decrease the watering frequency, and fertilize weekly with diluted liquid fertilizer.
When grown inside on an east-facing window sill during wintertime (when natural light is low), some people find they need to fertilize as often as twice per month!
Schlumbergera bridgesii care information
Schlumbergera bridgesii, or Christmas cactus, is a beautiful and easy-to-care-for plant. Native to Brazil, this succulent prefers bright, indirect light and well-draining soil. Allow the soil to dry out completely between watering, and fertilize monthly during the growing season.
In fall and winter, reduce watering and fertilizer to allow the plant to rest. Christmas cactus is not frost-tolerant and should be protected from cold temperatures.
Schlumbergera bridgesii prefer bright, indirect sunlight. They can tolerate some direct sun, but too much will scorch their leaves. If your cactus isn’t getting enough light, it will start to stretch out and lose its compact shape. If it’s getting too much light, the leaves will start to turn yellow.
To avoid these problems, give your plant a little more light or move it somewhere where there is less exposure to sun. In the winter months when you are away from home for long periods of time, place them in a sunny window with plenty of natural light or provide artificial lighting like grow lights for at least 8 hours per day.
A well-draining potting mix is essential for Schlumbergera bridgesii. They like a potting mix that is on the dry side, so be sure to add extra perlite or sand to your potting mix.
If your potting mix is too wet, the roots will rot. You can also use fir bark and gravel as an alternative to the potting mix. You may need to water twice a week in the summer months, but only once a week in winter. Be careful not to overwater your plant!
Christmas cacti are drought-tolerant, so they don’t need much water. In fact, too much water can lead to root rot. Water your Christmas cactus about once a week, or when the soil is dry to the touch. Allow the water to drain completely before putting the plant back in its pot.
Fertilize your Schlumbergera bridgesii every two weeks during the growing season with a half-strength solution of liquid fertilizer. If you notice the leaves turning yellow, that’s a sign that you’re fertilizing too much. Cut back on fertilizer and flush the soil with water to remove any excess fertilizer. During the winter months, when the plant is dormant, don’t fertilize at all.
Schlumbergera bridgesii prefers cooler temperatures and will bloom more prolifically if they experience a drop in temperature at night. They should be kept between 55-70 degrees Fahrenheit. If the temperature gets too hot, the plant will stop blooming. Too cold, and the plant may drop its buds or flowers.
Schlumbergera bridgesii is a tropical plant, meaning it requires higher humidity levels than most plants. To maintain the proper level of humidity for your Christmas cactus, mist the leaves daily and place the pot on a pebble tray filled with water.
You can also run a humidifier near your plant. The ideal humidity level for a Christmas cactus is between 40 and 50%.
Schlumbergera bridgesii can be pruned at any time of year, but it is best to do so after the blooming period. This will help encourage new growth. To prune, simply cut back the stems to the desired length. It is important not to over-prune, as this can damage the plant.
Always use sharp gardening shears and avoid bending or twisting the stem when cutting. You may also remove damaged leaves with a little sharp tugging action.
When to repot
Schlumbergera bridgesii, or Christmas cactus, can be repotted every two to three years in the spring. They prefer a slightly larger pot than their current one and a well-draining cactus potting mix.
Be sure to wear gloves when handling this cactus, as the spines can be sharp.
To repot, simply remove the plant from its current pot and place it in the new one, backfilling with the potting mix as needed. Water thoroughly after repotting.
Schlumbergera bridgesii, like all cacti, needs a winter rest period in order to bloom. During this time, the plant should be kept in a cool, dry place with bright light but no direct sun.
Watering should be reduced to once every few weeks, and fertilizer should not be applied.
Once the plant begins to show signs of new growth in late winter or early spring, it can be moved back to its regular location and care regimen.
Cuttings may also be taken from Schlumbergera bridgesii plants during their dormant phase; fresh cuttings will grow more quickly than those taken at other times of the year.
Plants grown as houseplants are often killed by frost, so they need to be brought inside before cold weather arrives.
Schlumbergera bridgesii flower & fragrance
The flowers of Schlumbergera bridgesii are white, pink, or red and appear in the late fall or early winter. They have a sweet fragrance that is most noticeable in the evening. The blooms last for about two weeks.
To encourage flowering, keep the plant slightly pot-bound and give it a rest period with reduced watering and fertilizer from late fall to early winter. In spring and summer, fertilize every two weeks with a balanced fertilizer.
The Schlumbergera bridgesii, or Christmas cactus, is a beautiful plant that is easy to care for. This cactus typically has a slow growth rate, so be patient when waiting for it to grow.
The best way to encourage growth is to provide it with bright light and well-draining soil.
Water the plant when the soil is dry to the touch, and fertilize it monthly during the growing season. These plants can be propagated by taking stem cuttings in spring.
When planting a cutting, allow at least two nodes on the cutting before inserting it into a moist potting mix. Make sure not to overwater as this can lead to root rot!
While Schlumbergera bridgesii is not poisonous to humans, it can cause gastrointestinal upset if ingested. The plant is also toxic to pets, so keep it out of reach of curious critters.
If you do get the sap on your skin, wash it off immediately as it can cause irritation.
Despite its toxicity, this beautiful plant is easy to care for and makes a great addition to any home.
USDA hardiness zones
Schlumbergera bridgesii thrives best in USDA hardiness zones 8b to 11. The Christmas cactus will not tolerate frost, so it is not a good choice for colder climates.
Keep the plant away from direct sunlight as much as possible because the leaves can scorch and die if they get too hot. It’s important to water sparingly and only when the soil is dry; over-watering will lead to root rot.
Pests and diseases
The Christmas cactus is a Schlumbergera bridgesii, and it is susceptible to mealybugs, scale, and spider mites. If you notice any of these pests on your plant, you can remove them with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol.
The Christmas cactus is also susceptible to root rot, so make sure to plant it in well-draining soil.
If you think your plant has root rot, you can try replanting it in fresh soil. It will take a while for the roots to grow back, but it should do just fine. Be sure not to overwater this plant either because too much water will cause the stems to droop.