With more than half the country (our area included) buried in ice and snow, temperatures plunging far below zero and wind chills turning people into human icicles, searching for outdoor plants that are showing off seems like a futile exercise. Instead, this week I decided to focus on a gorgeous plant that brightens our homes during the holiday season.
Although most people probably consider poinsettias to be the ultimate Christmas time flowering plant, — and there is no denying that they are beautiful plants — the Christmas cactus is definitely a show-stopper. Typically blooming once a year in solid shades of red, pink, fuchsia and white, newer varieties feature salmon, orange, yellow and even variegated blooms.
A hardy and easy-care succulent, Christmas cacti are not desert plants; they are actually native to the tropical rainforests of Brazil. As a result, their care requirements are slightly different than those of desert plants. Christmas cacti prefer a humid environment and need to be watered whenever the top inch of soil feels dry. Water the plant thoroughly, making sure that water runs through the pot, but don’t let the plant sit in water. Increase the humidity around the plant by setting the plant on the top of a pebble filled container. Fill the container with water to the top but not over the pebbles. As the water in the container evaporates, the humidity level surrounding the plant will increase. Christmas cacti do well in bright, indirect light and will bloom seven to eight weeks in the right conditions.