Schlumbergera or zygocactus - this is an unpretentious indoor flower that can bloom in winter, in December, when other plants sleep or get sick from lack of sun - made it a favorite for a long time and awarded the folk nicknames "Decembrist". "Christmas" or "Christmas cactus". Schlumbergera is a branching plant, with long jointed branches (another popular name for the flower is “cancer neck”). What we usually take for the leaves of the Decembrist - thin plates fastened to each other - this is actually the stem of the flower, on which its buds appear.
The article describes the main indoor types of Schlumbergera, gives advice on how to make the Decembrist bloom, and also provides basic recommendations for propagating and caring for this plant.
This unusual flower came to us from the tropical rainforests of Brazil. At the same time, it is worth noting that the Schlumbergera is a cactus that has only adapted to dampness and heavy rains. He survived in such conditions due to the fact that he became an epiphyte - that is, he learned to live on other plants. At the same time, the flower is not a parasite - it does not "eat" its owner, but simply peacefully coexists with him.
Truncated Schlumbergera (Schlumbergera truncatus)
In this species, shoots can reach 40 cm in length, the stems hang down beautifully. The color of the stem is light green, sometimes it can be with a reddish tint, the size of one stem fragment is from 4-5 cm in length and up to 2-2.5 cm in width. There are sharp teeth on the sides of the segments. Flowers of this variety have a variety of shades: from white and pink to purple and purple.
Schlumbergera Buckley (Schlumbergera bucklei) Buckley
Also an ampelous type of plant, the segments of its stem have rounded teeth. The color of flowers is pinkish-lilac.
The difference between Schlumbergera truncated and Hedwig
Schlumbergera prickly pear (Schlumbergera opuntioides)
This species is more reminiscent of a cactus - the segments of the stem are teardrop-shaped and covered with spines growing in numerous areoles. In addition, the stem fragments are much thicker than those of other Zygocactus species. This species blooms with pinkish-purple flowers in March-April.
Schlumbergera gaertneri (Schlumbergera gaertneri)
The stem segments of this species can reach a length of 6-7 cm. The flowers are orange-red, with pointed petals.
Schlumbergera Russelliana (Schlumbergera Russelliana)
The stems of this species can reach 1 meter in length. The stems are bright green, with red veins, shiny, fleshy. Leaves without teeth. It blooms in February-March with red-violet and pink flowers.
Schlumbergens have real confusion with relatives. Decembrist belongs to the subfamily of epiphytic cacti. In addition to Schlumbergera, this subfamily includes three more types of cacti:
- Hathiora (ripsalidopsis) (read more about Hathiora).
Previously, Schlumbergera was compared with ripsalidopsis, and now you can still find the division of flowers into Schlumbergera and ripsalidopsis.
But according to the modern classification of plants, ripsalidopsis is included in the hatiora species. Therefore, to look for differences between Schlumbergera and ripsalidopsis is not entirely true. It is more correct to say that the Schlumbergera is similar to the hatiora, but still, plants of one species can be distinguished from plants of another by a number of signs:
Yes, the two types of plants have differences, but still they are very similar, and the principles of caring for them are the same.
Zygocactus are not too picky. They grow well on the windowsill in an ordinary apartment. However, if you want to have a healthy, flowering plant, then it is best to follow the basic rules for caring for them.
Soil and transplant
In nature, zygocactus, like other epiphytes, can grow in the crevices of trees, holding onto the bark with their roots. Therefore, their root system is not too developed, and the pot can be taken not too large, and the drainage should occupy about a third in it.
Plants are transplanted depending on the growth and filling of the pot before the start of growth - in March-April. For a young, fast-growing plant, an annual transplant is possible, for an adult flower, a transplant can be done every 3-4 years.
The soil for Schlumbergera can be taken ready-made from the store. Land for cacti is suitable, but it needs to be diluted by a quarter with coarse sand. You can prepare the land yourself. For this you need to take:
- Leaf humus;
- Peat in a small amount;
- Sand or perlite so that the soil is loose and allows water to pass through;
- Don't forget the drainage layer.
Top dressing should be carried out from March to September 1-2 times a month with fertilizers for cacti and succulents, and only on moist soil. Don't fertilize in winter!
Temperature, watering and lighting
Spring - Summer: this is a period of active growth, the temperature should be around 20-25 degrees. It is better to place zygocactus in places with good diffused light, avoiding direct sunlight, which burns the leaves. Southeast and southwest windows are best suited for a cactus. It is not recommended to remove the plant in the shade. Feels great on balconies and loggias - in well-ventilated areas. Water moderately as the soil dries out completely. About once a week. You can look at the condition of the leaves, if they become softer, a little lethargic - you need to water the plant.
- For zygocactus, it is better to produce bottom watering;
- Decembrists love high humidity. You can spray them from time to time;
- In the summer, you can bathe the zygocactus in the shower;
- For irrigation, use clean water (settled or filtered) at room temperature.
Autumn - Winter: Preparing the plant for flowering:
In the autumn period (from the end of September to the middle of November), for the formation of flower buds, the zygocactus needs to change the conditions:
- Put in a cool place where the temperature will not be higher than 20˚, but not lower than 10-13˚;
- Reduce watering;
- The place where the Schlumberger will be located should be shaded.
In mid-late November, transfer the Decembrist to a warm place, place it on the windowsill.
- During the period when buds or flowers appeared on the Decembrist, it is important not to turn it on the other side to the sun and not to endure it at all, since the Decembrist can drop them without starting to bloom;
- A flowering plant is watered, but not sprayed;
- During flowering, fertilizers are not needed.
To stimulate the growth of buds in March-April, long shoots are pinched. To do this, at the old, long shoot, you need to break off or unscrew 1-2 segments.
After the zygocactus has faded, you need to provide him with a rest, until about the month of March.
- The recommended temperature is 13-17 degrees;
- Rare watering (once every one and a half to two weeks);
- Lack of fertilizer.
The easiest way to propagate is cuttings. For reproduction, it is necessary to break off or unscrew a small shoot from an adult plant - 2-3 segments are enough. The stalk needs to be dried for several days, and then dug under a slight slope into the prepared moist soil. Better rooting will occur if you cover the cutting with a glass jar. But in this case, regularly ventilate and remove condensate so that your cutting does not rot.
With the help of seeds
Schlumbergera can bear fruit. But in room conditions, the fruit is quite difficult to get, because you need to pollinate the flowers. In nature, this is done by hummingbirds or hawks. But if you have different types of Decembrist that you would not mind crossing, try our method.
- It is better to carry out pollination on the 2-3rd day of flowering;
- Pick a flower from one plant and pollinate the flower of another with it, immersing it in the pollen in the pistil;
- If the plants do not bloom at the same time, then the flower of one zygocactus can be saved - for a couple of weeks it will not lose its properties;
- The fruit that will be tied as a result of these manipulations - a small berry - should ripen within 6-8 months;
- The berry should become soft to the touch, after which it is plucked and the seeds are cleaned in a weak solution of manganese.
However, if waiting for the fruits of the Decembrist is too long and tiring, then you can buy seeds of different varieties of Schlumbergera in the store and, planting them on one windowsill, enjoy a mix of flowers of different colors in the winter.
- It is better to sow zygocactus seeds in May-June, on moist soil;
- No need to sprinkle them with earth;
- You can cover with a film and regularly ventilate, removing excess moisture from time to time;
- You can dive young plants, 2 months after seed germination;
- Read more about how to grow succulents from seeds.
Also, the Decembrist can be grafted onto other plants, for example, prickly pear, echinopsis or pereskia. The grafted plant will be distinguished by abundant flowering and will retain the characteristics of its variety in full.
- For grafting, a cut is made on the cart, and then it is split;
- 2-3 segments of the zygocactus are broken off, and then carefully sharpened;
- Insert the segments into the cleft of the supply and fix them with a thin needle or a narrow strip of fabric;
- The temperature should not be higher than 18-20˚;
- A Decembrist can grow to another plant in a couple of weeks;
- After growth, support needles and bandages can be removed;
- It is also necessary to remove the growing shoots in time so as not to break the vaccine.
Schlumbergera is not particularly demanding in care, but it can also get sick if you do not follow the rules of watering and lighting.
- Shoots are sluggish and pale. Perhaps the zygocactus lacks light and watering;
- Shoots began to give redness. This happens if the Schlumberger is in direct sunlight;
- The Decembrist does not bloom. This means that the rest period was not properly organized: coolness, shading and poor watering;
- If the zygocactus has dropped buds and flowers, then most likely the plant has changed the direction of illumination, the temperature has changed, or the flower is standing in a draft;
- Erosion appeared on the leaves (with redness) - the burn of the plant.
- Most often, the plant suffers from fungal diseases or bacterial. Rotten, diseased parts of the plant are carefully removed. Treatment is with fungicides.
- Of the pests on the flower, a mealybug, spider mite, and scale insect can settle. Special tools from the store will perfectly cope with them.
Schlumbergera has been used in indoor floriculture for a very long time. She is loved for her unpretentiousness and bright flowers in winter. This plant will look spectacular in hanging planters, and in an ordinary pot on the windowsill and, no doubt, will decorate any home with it.