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)

Schlumbergera truncatus on the photo

Schlumbergera truncatus on the photo

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

on the photo of Schlumbergera bucklei

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

Zygocactus - Decembrist: home varieties with photos and care for them

Schlumbergera prickly pear (Schlumbergera opuntioides)

Schlumbergera prickly pear

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)

Schlumbergera gertner

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.

Schlumbergera or ripsalidopsis?

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:

  • Rhipsalis;
  • Lepismium;
  • 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:

  • Schlumbegera and hatiora flowers have different flowering and dormant times. A real Decembrist blooms in December-January, and hatiora (ripsalidopsis), on the contrary, blooms in spring. That is why this species was nicknamed the "Easter cactus" or "Easter egg". The dormant period of hatiora falls in autumn and winter, before flowering.
  • At the Decembrist, the flowers resemble a regular star, and at the Easter egg, the flowers are asymmetrical, slightly curly, you can see a tube in them.
  • The shape of the stem plates in Schlumbergera is oblong with denticles. In hatiora, the notches are smooth, sometimes the plate may have a reddish color along the edge.
  • Zygocactus - Decembrist: home varieties with photos and care for them

    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.

    repotting the Decembrist


    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.

    flowering Decembrist

    Rest period

    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.Decembrist cuttings

    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.Fruits of the Decembrist

    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.

    Plant grafting

    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.

    Grafted Decembrist

    Diseases and pests

    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.

    Useful video

    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.

    Things to know (Q&A)

    Can Zygocactus grow indoors?

    The Zygocactus are easy plants to grow indoors or in patio areas . They do not need much attention. ... Zygocactus must only be planted in a well draining container and soil. When you see flower buds forming on the plant, you should increase the light and humidity.

    How do you care for the Zygocactus PTC?

    Zygocactus prefers evenly moist soil that does not dry out completely. It is best to water them thoroughly so that water runs freely through the bottom of the pot and then let them dry out before watering them again.

    How long does a Zygocactus last?

    These plants are classed as Zygocactus, which some scholars call a misnomer, while others shout it from the roof tops. Whatever type of plant it is, the Thanksgiving holiday cactus is a proven winner, with blooms that last for 2 to 4 months and an easy-going nature.

    How do you get Zygocactus to bloom?

    Christmas cacti produce flowers in a cool, environment-short day cycle. To initiate the production of flower buds, there needs to be at least eight days of 16 hours of dark and eight hours of light each day . Wherever the plant is placed, do not turn on the lights at night, even for a short period of time.

    Is Zygocactus indoor or outdoor?

    Zygocactus adapts well to indoor temperatures and humidity levels . While it prefers humidity levels above 50 percent it will tolerate a lower humidity level. Likewise, Zygocactus thrives in household temperatures between 60 and 65 degrees but will tolerate temperatures a bit higher.

    Can Christmas cactus survive inside?

    Christmas Cactus (Schlumbergera bridgesii) is a popular, winter-flowering houseplant that makes a great addition to nearly any indoor setting . It is not only easy to care for but propagates easily, too, making it an exceptional candidate for holiday gift giving.

    Can Christmas cactus grow without sunlight?

    They prefer bright, indirect light. Full sun can cause the leaf segments to turn dark red as the plants begin to burn. ... Placing the Christmas cactus on the window sill in a cool room and not turning on the lights is all that's needed.

    What cactus can you grow indoors?

    Take a look at these eight cactus plants that you can grow indoors.

    • 01 of 08. Angel Wings Cactus. The Spruce. ...
    • 02 of 08. Rat Tail Cactus. The Spruce / Kara Riley. ...
    • 03 of 08. African Milk Tree. ...
    • 04 of 08. Saguaro Cactus. ...
    • 05 of 08. Old Lady Cactus. ...
    • 06 of 08. Bishop's Cap. ...
    • 07 of 08. Christmas Cactus. ...
    • 08 of 08. Barrel Cactus.

    Is Zygocactus an indoor plant?

    The Zygocactus are easy plants to grow indoors or in patio areas . They do not need much attention. One of the main problems of Zygocactus care is overwatering of the plant. It just needs a good drink and make sure that you water the plant only when the top soil has gone dr

    Does Zygocactus like full sun?

    Zygocactus do not like direct sunlight . They flower in response to shortening daylength (actually lengthening nights). They are so sensitive that their normal flowering can be upset if they are grown in an area which is lit at night, for example on a balcony near a street or outside light.

    How often should Zygocactus be watered?

    every 2-3 weeks

    Plan to water every 2-3 weeks , but only water when the top one third of soil feels dry to the touch. For example, if the plant is in 6 inches of soil, water when the top 2 inches feel dry. (Use your finger to check!)

    How do I keep my Christmas cactus blooming?

    Christmas cacti produce flowers in a cool, environment-short day cycle . To initiate the production of flower buds, there needs to be at least eight days of 16 hours of dark and eight hours of light each day. Wherever the plant is placed, do not turn on the lights at night, even for a short period of tim

    Why is my Zygo cactus not flowering?

    The reason for Christmas cactus not blooming is because of drought stress or too many hours of light , as it is a short day plant. Christmas cactus are adapted to rainforests with high humidity and rainfall.

    How do you encourage a Christmas cactus to bloom?

    Unlike many other succulents, Christmas cactus can bloom again in spring if given the short days condition. Placing Christmas cactus into the east-facing window that receives abundant amounts of sunlight during the day and 12 hours of darkness each night can encourage the plant to flower again.

    How do I stimulate my cactus to flower?

    Here are some things you can do to encourage your cacti and succulents to bloom:

    • Proper temperatures.
    • Plenty of light.
    • Feed or Fertilize.
    • Water.
    • The right medium.
    • To encourage flowering, the plant needs to enter a period of dormancy. ...
    • Limit the amount of water.
    • Provide a period of darkness.

    What do you feed a Christmas cactus to make it bloom?

    How to Feed a Christmas Cactus. A bloom formula houseplant fertilizer or a half strength water soluble formula, such as 20-20-20 or 20-10-20 , makes an ideal fertilizer for Christmas cactus. Feed monthly during regular watering from late winter to late summer.