Rescued from a bin as a baby, Chris the Christmas Cactus is all grown up and blooming
Christ the Christmas Cactus blooming in December 2023
Back in 2019 I rescued a baby Christmas Cactus (Schlumbergera bridgesii) from a trash bin at my local big box garden center. At the time it was a tiny plant in a 2-inch pot, not much more than a couple of flat stems in some soilless mix.
But, with a re-potting, and some time and care, Chris (as she is now known) staged a triumphant comeback, blooming for the first time in early December a year later, and again every Christmas since.
Today she fills out a 12-inch pot and is doing her best to brighten our Christmas decor with her pretty fuchsia colored flowers.
A very good rescue in my opinion.
Fun Christmas Cactus facts
Here’s a few things you might not know about the Christmas cactus:
- It’s not a true cactus – It’s actually a rain forest dweller native to Brazil where it lives in shady nooks of trees and rocks (not soil), and collects water from the air much like an orchid does.
- It’s a May flower – While we in the northern hemisphere call Schlumbergera bridgesii the “Christmas” cactus because it blooms in late autumn between Thanksgiving and Christmas, in its native Brazil it actually blooms in May, which is autumn in the southern hemisphere. Down there they call it “Flor de Maio” (“May flower”). Also, it blooms at night, an adaptation that lets bats and moths pollinate it.
- It has no leaves – The flat green parts are actually the plant’s stems which perform all of the functions of leaves (photosynthesis, etc.) as well as absorbing water like roots. Those stems also propagate very easily. Just pinch one, place it in soil in a shady, humid area, and it’ll sprout new roots in a couple weeks.
- It lives a looooong time – It’s not uncommon for these plants to live 30 years or more. Some have lived as long as 100 years and reached 4 feet tall.
- It’s a distant relative of the Dragonfruit – You can see the family resemblance in the stems and flowers. Like the Christmas cactus, the dragon fruit will grow on trees, collect water from the air and bloom at night.
Chris over the years
Chris the cactus as a baby in 2019
Chris blooming at age 1 (2020)
Chris the cactus today (December 2023)
Schlumbergera bridgesii plant details
|Christmas cactus, Thanksgiving cactus, holiday cactus
|1 to 1-1/2 ft. tall
|Full shade to dappled sun
|Any (not picky)
|Any (not picky)
|Moderate. Doesn’t like damp soil
|Late autumn to early winter
|White, pink, yellow, red or purple
|Zones 10-11 (USDA) – Best as indoor plant
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