Chris the Christmas Cactus in Bloom

By Published On: December 20th, 20232.5 min readCategories: Plants

Rescued from a bin as a baby, Chris the Christmas Cactus is all grown up and blooming

A Christmas cactus blooming with fuchsia colored flowers in a window

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

Schlumbergera bridgesii plant details

Plant Details
Common Name Christmas cactus, Thanksgiving cactus, holiday cactus
Botanical Name Schlumbergera bridgesii
Plant Family Cactaceae
Native to Brazilian Rainforest
Plant Type Evergreen perennial
Mature Size 1 to 1-1/2 ft. tall
Sun Exposure Full shade to dappled sun
Soil Type Any (not picky)
Soil pH Any (not picky)
Water Moderate. Doesn’t like damp soil
Bloom Time Late autumn to early winter
Flower Color White, pink, yellow, red or purple
Hardiness Zones 10-11 (USDA) – Best as indoor plant

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About the Author

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Sage Osterfeld
I’m just a guy with nearly an acre of dirt, a nice little mid-century ranch house and a near-perfect climate. But in my mind I’m a landscaper survivalist craftsman chef naturalist with a barbeque the size of a VW and my own cable TV show. I like to write about the stuff I build, grow and see here at Sage's Acre.

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