Holiday Cactus. Also known as Zygocactus in New Zealand

Holiday Cactus.  Also known as Zygocactus in New Zealand

The naming of Holiday Cactus as Christmas, Thanksgiving, or Easter originates in the USA.   So any NZer who is showing off a Holiday Cactus near Christmas time is probably showing you an Easter Cactus.  Confusing, right?   So let's not use those names.

As a NZer, it is common to refer to them as a group of Zygocactus, or if you want to individualise them then please use their proper (botanical) names  Schlumbergera and Hatiora (now Rhipsalidopsis).

Schlembergera can and often do change colours when flowering from year to year.  Due to various factors.   I have shown before, that what was a very distinct 'pink flower' one year, became almost 'white' the following year.  Here is another blog I wrote about Zygos 

A young or small hatiora plant may have a weaker, less brightly coloured flower than a well-established plant.  But generally, a Hatiora's colour remains fairly consistent. 

While they all grow quite similarly, remember that their growing times vary, just like their flowering times do.

It is always best to take cuttings from these plants when they are not flowering.  But often people do share cuttings with buds, and they often continue to open and show the flower.

Taking Cuttings 

There are numerous ways to strike cuttings of Zygos.   Allow cuts to dry for a couple of days.

1/ Straight into soil.  Water occasionally.   Not fussed over at all.

2/ Into soil, but into a plastic bag, to aid moisture content.

3/ Into a damp, zip bag, no soil.  And left to form roots.

4/  I have even seen people propagate in water.   Not something I ever do, because I prefer to ignore my plants and this method requires me to check on them too often for my liking.

Try out different methods and see which suits you the best.

When they are in zip-bags, you often see them popping out aerial roots between the cladodes. If possible, it is a good idea, to plant 2 cladodes in soil. If you take a larger cutting, consider burying more cladoes, to get a stronger root system.

As I said earlier I prefer not to take cuttings off my plants while they are flowering.   After they have finished flowering and all the spent flowers have fallen off is the best time to take cuttings.

Watering and fertiliser

Before blooming, reduce watering for 4-6 weeks.   Once they show active new growth then increase the water and fertiliser again.  They also need a rest period of 4-6 weeks after flowering.   Reduce water and do not fertilise at this time. 

A good rule for most plants is when they are growing and blooming  = more water and regular fertiliser.


Other requirements

These are not desert cacti, but tropical cacti, which originate from jungle environments.   They enjoy high humidity and constant moisture.   Watering well and left to drain, not sitting in water.

Warm, bright light.  They do not like or need direct sunlight or frost.

Well-drained soil is best.   I use a bag of potting mix and add 1/3 to ½ extra pumice.   I tend to make a mix and add other things and use it for most of my plants.

Extra care

Some types, generally the red flowering Schlumbergera, which often also get red leaves are trickier plants to grow.   These types can get stressed and struggle to grow.  Always good to have a stand-by plant of these, just in case!  

And a link to all my previous blogs

Posted: Saturday 16 December 2023


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