Holiday Cactus or Christmas Cactus
There are many legends surrounding the Christmas cactus—one in particular comes out of Brazil, where the plant is native. As the story goes, a poor little boy out in the humid jungles prayed to the heavens for a sign of Christmas. Days went by with his prayers left unanswered, until one day he awoke to find himself surrounded by beautiful bursts of flowers on the tips of the nearby cacti branches. From that point on, the cactus symbolized the idea of answered prayers, making it the perfect holiday plant to give to others..
Tropical in origin, the Christmas cactus grows indoors as a houseplant until the summer when it can be planted outdoors. Given some minimal care, your cactus will bloom on its own at the beginning of winter.
Unlike the desert-loving cacti many of us are used to, the Christmas cactus is a native of tropical rainforests and needs regular water to remain healthy. The flattened leaves are actually stemmed segments that hang and drape from containers and baskets. Flowers will form at the ends of these stems, so the more stems your plant has, the more flowers it will boast. Traditionally the cactus blooms red, but you can now find Christmas cacti in a myriad of flower colors, including red, pink, purple, and orange
To encourage more stems, grow your Christmas cactus as a hanging plant or place it somewhere where it has room to drape. Don’t worry about rubbing up against it. Christmas cactus plants do not have thornsThe Christmas cactus prefers partial shade or a diffused light, although they are very adaptable at adjusting to growing conditions. If you do expose them to full sunlight, make it during the winter months—plentiful sunlight in the spring and summer can make the plant pale and yellow.Though the Christmas cactus is, in fact, a cactus, its tropical origins mean it craves more water than most. Water the plant thoroughly, allowing the excess water to run out through the drainage hole. Allow the soil to dry almost completely between waterings—you will know if the soil is too dry when the leaves start to pucker and shrivel.