Zygocactus

Years ago we used to call Schlumbergera spp. a “Zygocactus”.  The old name has been replaced by Schlumbergera spp.  by taxonomists trying to make sense out of several related genuses that were named incorrectly by botanists a long time ago.  Most people, of course, call these plants Christmas cactus.

There are many Christmas cactus varieties that have been bred to increase the flower size, to give different colors, and especially to flower coincident with a certain holiday.  There are now types of these that flower for Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter. 

This is an old variety of “Christmas cactus”.  The original plant is from the 1950s. 

This "Christmas Cactus" blooms sporadically all winterNotice the tiny roots at the joints. A vestigial air root from their epiphytic origins.

 These plants are bred from the epiphytic cacti that grow in South America.  Plant breeders have been growing them in pots of soil, so the air roots are not really used anymore.  However, if you grow these plants in a humid greenhouse, the rootlets coming out of the joints will develop and be functional. 

These plants grow in the wild up in trees in Brazil.  They flower in May in South America and are nicknamed May Flowers.  Flowering is induced by cool temperatures and daylength.  When you grow these plants in the house, flowering is sporadic all winter long because the daylength is interrupted by electric lights being turned on and off and the heated  night temperatures.

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