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Floral Friday – Xygocactus

xygocactus / christmas cactus / schlumbergera

A plant with many names! To me it will always be Christmas Cactus, because when I was growing up in Canada we had a number of them in the house, and that’s when they bloomed. Here in Australia, though, mine is blooming right now; here, they’re known as xygocactus or Schlumbergera.

This particular plant has a sad history. It was quite small when I bought it years ago, with only a couple of flowers. There were other, bigger plants with more flowers, but I loved the colour of these flowers. It was doing well, getting bigger, more flowers each year — and then I dropped it. Eek! One-third of the plant broke off. Then I overwatered what was left, and the branches started wilting and falling off; another one-third gone. The wet soil was also infested with gnats. And it had terrible light indoors, a choice of blasting direct sun or dim curtained gloom.

xygocactus / christmas cactus / schlumbergera

The poor thing was not a happy plant!

xygocactus / christmas cactus / schlumbergera

So I hauled it out of the pot, removed as much soil as possible, repotted it into a larger pot with a more gravelly soil to increase drainage, and used the old cider/sugar/dishsoap traps to kill the gnats. And it began to improve, hurrah! What it liked best, though, was the move to an apartment with a balcony where it gets bright but not direct light.

xygocactus / christmas cactus / schlumbergera

Now it’s a very happy plant, as you can see in these photos.

xygocactus / christmas cactus / schlumbergera

xygocactus / christmas cactus / schlumbergera

It doesn’t normally get any direct sunlight, but I moved it so these photos wouldn’t be dull and flat.


If you can’t believe this plant was ever in the dire straits described above, have a look at it from 2018. Still bravely flowering, but just look at those pinched, wilted, wrinkled branches.