Identifying a Christmas Cactus

A friend of mine gave me a big cactus for my birthday. He was unable to get any information regarding the cactus other than it flowers whenever it wants to. The color of its flower is red. Can you help me identify my cactus and the proper care for it? Please and thank you.

By Alois G.

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June 9, 20110 found this helpful

Looks like a Christmas cactus to me. If so it will have pretty coral colored flowers in early winter!

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June 9, 20110 found this helpful

It's a Christmas cactus. Put it in a dark place (a closet) in October, by Christmas it should be full of blooms. In my southern facing atrium window in south Texas, it blooms almost constantly.

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June 9, 20110 found this helpful

It looks like a Christmas or friendship cactus to me as well. Neat thing about the plant is that the more you pinch it the more it blooms. Usually starts to bloom around Thanksgiving time in the States if in a sunny spot (like a southern exposure window sill) and let to dry between waterings. If cared for properly it often blooms through Easter.

The pinchings root easily and are often given to friends for new plants-that's why the plant is also known as 'the friendship cactus'.

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June 9, 20110 found this helpful

Whoops, forgot to say yours is looking a bit tall.

You can use bamboo stakes and a lightly tied cotton string to support it, or you can pinch it back to the first 'knuckle' or joint-it will bloom if you care for it properly. After that first pruning you can aim to keep the tendrils no more than 6-8" long, you may have two 'knuckles' at those lengths, for looks you really don't want more than three 'knuckles'.

It does seem to prefer to be slightly root-bound in its pot for the best blooming, and it loves to be in a trough like planter-think flowering window sill type planter. I think it likes the trough planters because the roots are spreading in nature rather than deep-the trough gives them the shallow spreading room they love.

The pinchings can be used to fill the length of the trough, it makes a lovely display if the tendrils hang about 6-8" over the side like a waterfall. Simply plunk the pinchings back into the soil where ever you want to fill in the planter-in good, well fed and evenly moist soil the pinchings should root quickly and easily.

Soil should be one of those mixed especially for catcus or succulents, and there are several good feeding mixes available. I like the Jobe spikes for simplicity-read the labels to be sure you are buying for the plant needs.

It wants to live year round in a sunny spot like the above mentioned southern exposure window sill.

Water it so the soil is evenly moist then let it dry between waterings-don't go more than two or three days after the soil dries. A wood BBQ skewer pushed into the soil so the tip touches the bottom of the pot is a great way to tell if the soil is dry. Simply pull out the skewer regularly to see if it's dry or wet, then push it back into the soil. You may find more reliable results if you move the skewer to a new spot every time you pull it up to check.

Continue pinching on a regular basis, keeping the tendrils to manageable lengths on each for lots of blooms and a healthy plant.

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June 9, 20110 found this helpful

It is not a Christmas cactus. Looks more like a Euphorbia.

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