Schlumbergera - good old Christmas, or Decembrist
The appearance of one of the most famous and widespread flowering cacti, Schlumbergera, is well known to everyone. The legendary "Decembrist" conquers not only with brightness, but also with an abundance of flowers, predictability of flowering periods that compensate even often plain-looking greens. Despite a character completely unlike cacti, this succulent plant does not go out of style. It is more suitable for experienced exotic lovers than beginners, although the temptation is difficult to resist. Indeed, the chance to pamper yourself with bright flowering just in time for the holidays attracts many.
Schlumbergera - a flowering classic with nostalgic charm
Schlumbergera (Schlumbergera) in different years was classified in different genera of cacti, the longest staying in the company of zygocactus. But today, with a species name, the plants have finally decided. Schlumberger got their name in honor of the French collector and an enthusiastic lover of botany. The botanical “Schlumbergera” is inferior in popularity to cute and eloquent folk nicknames. “Christmas”, “Christmas cactus”, “Decembrist”, “Varvarin color” - this is what true admirers of her beauty call Schlumberger.
Schlumberger belong to the Cactaceae family. In nature, they can be admired in the tropical forests of South America, where they are fixed not only on the trunks, but also on the roots of gigantic trees. Schlumbergera are naturally winter-flowering plants, because the peak of their flowering occurs in the summer in the southern hemisphere, corresponding to our winter. Flowering in December and February is natural for them.
Schlumberger belong to epiphytic cacti. The height of the Schlumberger is limited to 15-50 cm, depending on the containers, the formation strategy or its absence. Shoots can be extended and stronger, but only in a neglected state. Flat, articulated, stiff, fleshy shoots with a rather dark color flaunt a surprisingly beautiful relief, thanks to a large toothed or scalloped edge.
They hang, curving in arcs, sparse, but beautifully divided, recalling other ampelous cacti. Stem segments with a length of 3 to 10 cm look elegant. Dark, saturated colors are emphasized by a brilliant surface. Halos are located between the teeth and at the tops, most often they are pubescent.
The abundant flowering of Schlumbergera is not accidentally compared with rhododendrons. At the peak of flowering, the plant is strewn with so many bright flowers that almost no attention is paid to greens. Flowers at Schlumberger bloom at the ends of shoots, developing amazingly fast. They look like stars and are largely typical of all cacti.
Many-tiered and long-tubular, asymmetrical, Schlumbergera flowers show off not only with lanceolate, pointed perianth lobes, curiously bending backwards, but also with long "bunches" of elegant, hanging stamens. Schlumbergera have “daytime” flowers that open during daylight hours.
The color palette of Schlumbergera is associated with scarlet and bright pink flowers. This is a brightly colored plant, it often looks very attractive in the winter interior. But today this plant happens to be white-flowered, and lilac, and variegated-two-colored, although the palette remains mainly within the white-red spectrum. New hybrids have expanded the range of familiar pastel and bright colors with interesting fruit-yellow shades.
The flowering period of Schlumberger traditionally coincides with your favorite Christmas holidays, starting in December and lasting more than one week. Schlumbergera almost relentlessly releases flower after flower. With proper care, you can admire the flowering until the end of January.
The timing of flowering can be changed, often Christmas trees bloom at another time and on their own, because the beginning of flowering directly depends not only on temperature, but also on lighting. Some varieties are bred with initially “given”, excellent periods or longer, but not winter flowering. That is why Schlumberger advise you to buy flowering, so that you can appreciate the rhythms familiar to the plant.
Types of indoor Schlumberger
Old, prone to loss of decorative shoots, not so densely branched and not so diverse in color, Schlumberger “Soviet times” are long gone. They were replaced by new hybrid varieties that made the common plant fashionable and modern.
Of course, Schlumbergera is still more often perceived as an outdated, retroculture, but in the interiors it does not at all look like a nostalgic relic. Species plants as indoor plants are becoming less common today or the type of plant is not indicated at all, replaced by the simple Latin name of the plant Schlumbergera and the name of the variety.
The most ornamental Schlumberger species that are used in hybridization include:
Schlumberger Buckley (Schlumbergera x bucklei) - epiphytic cactus with branched flat shoots of a dark color with emerald tint. At a maximum height of 50 cm, it is distinguished by cylindrical, fleshy stems, flat segments with slightly pronounced teeth and fluffy areoles. The flowers are large, up to 8 cm long with a very unusual yellowish tube. Varieties differ not only in shades of color - white, yellow, pink, purple, but even in the size and shape of the joints, allowing you to choose classic or more original plants to your taste.
Schlumberger Gartner (Schlumbergera gaertneri) - a spectacular red blooming appearance with less neat stems. Segments grow up to 8 cm, bushes are not as dense as in other species. Orange-red flowers with a wider tube appear to be flaming stars, thanks to the very elongated petals.
Schlumbergera russeliana (Schlumbergera russelliana) - more modest in size, but not in appearance, with a maximum height of up to 30 cm. Flat, bright green, with warm shades of color shoots in length are able to stretch up to 1 m. The scalloped edge makes the flat segments very beautiful, like pubescent areoles from which drooping flowers develop. With a length of only 4 cm, the segments of the stems appear almost translucent due to the darker central vein. The flowers are large, spectacular, with a light green tube and a large number of petals. The colors of this species Schlumberger are limited to pink-red variations.
Truncated Schlumbergera (Schlumbergera truncata) - a powerful succulent plant with drooping, jointed shoots, gaining strength with age and growing up to 50 cm in height. This type of Schlumbergera looks very elegant due to the fact that the segments of the shoots rarely exceed 5 cm with half the width, they are as close to the leaves in shape. Pronounced teeth alternate with underlined thin bristles areoles, repeating at the tops of shoots. Flat shoots bend in arches and are painted in saturated bright green, marshy tone on young branches. Flowers emphasize the accuracy of the structure. With a diameter of up to 5 cm, they are more symmetrical than other Schlumberger, with a very long curved tube and a wide open rim. Varieties of this species offer a choice between white-pink-red-purple shades.
Schlumberger growing conditions
Schlumberger, despite the status of a golden classic, has never been a plant for all. Only flower growers with some experience in growing tropical species need to decide to grow the Decembrist, and even then, provided that it is possible to provide the coolness necessary for wintering. But the strict requirements for the rest period are compensated by the ability to choose differently lit places, and a wide temperature range for the period of active growth.
The rest period at Schlumbergera with traditional flowering periods lasts from September to the end of November. A plant will not be able to bloom without cool conditions during the dormant period.
Lighting and placement
Despite the status of a beautifully flowering plant, Schlumbergera is not as photophilous as most competitors. It develops best in diffuse lighting, and subject to careful care, can even settle in partial shade. Of course, in strong shading, the plant will not bloom. But it is not necessary to place the Schlumberger on the windowsill only.
The plant does not like direct sun, rays leave burns on the shoots and lead to a rapid loss of decorativeness. The seasonal reduction in lighting in winter, which coincides with the flowering period, is desirable to compensate for by moving to brighter places. Schlumberger prefer to bloom on the brightest windowsill in the house - the south.
Schlumberger can be grown as a potted plant or as an ampel plant, using drooping shoots to create beautiful cascades. But to place it always stands below the viewpoint so that the view of the cactus bushes falls from top to bottom. Schlumberger good in group plantings, collections of cacti and tropical plants.
Temperature and ventilation
Despite belonging to tropical cacti, the Schlumberger is not at all as thermophilic as it seems. For her, there is no need to strictly select the temperature, because the plant is able to cope with both heat and coolness. During the period of active growth, she is quite comfortable at any temperature from 18 to 30 degrees.
At rest, the Schlumberger should enjoy a comfortable cool. Compliance with temperature conditions plays a key role in stimulating flowering. For Schlumbergera, the air temperature must remain within the range of 10 to 15 degrees. The chlumberger is kept in cool for 2–3 months, then returning it to heat to start the process of active growth. If the plant is grown with the usual December flowering, then the Schlumberger should be brought back into the heat in early December.
Schlumberger can be taken out to the garden or to balconies in the summer. The plant loves fresh air, but is afraid of too bright lighting, and in the garden for the cactus you need to choose semi shady or shady locations.
Home care for Schlumberger
Compared to other cacti, Schlumberger can hardly be called a simple plant. We have to adjust the irrigation in accordance with its stage of development, provide constant monitoring for traces of emerging problems and do not forget about the formation. The love of high humidity also does not simplify the cultivation of this crop.
Watering and humidity
Unlike most cacti, the Schlumberger is quite hygrophilous. She loves abundant watering during the period of active growth, requires more frequent watering and tolerates much worse drying of the soil and irrigation irrigation than ordinary succulents. But at the same time, it remains true succulent because of its fear of getting wet and damp.
Watering the schlumberger must be carried out carefully, in small portions of water, evenly soaking the soil and immediately draining excess water from the pallets, in no case soaking the shoots. Before the next watering, you need to make sure that the upper part of the substrate is dry.
For the rest period, watering is minimized, starting in September, gradually reducing these procedures, the increased humidity of the substrate at this time is critically dangerous. Resume abundant watering with the appearance of buds. After flowering, Schlumbergera, regardless of whether or not they transplant, keep the plant for a month or a half in slightly lower humidity, allowing the soil to dry out more, and then resume the usual abundant watering. The soil in the tanks should be left almost dry.
For Schlumberger, water quality will also have to be controlled. It should be soft, settled, a couple of degrees warmer than the soil during the period of active development.
Humidity for this succulent should be high. Dry air negatively affects the state of greenery. The usual method of increasing humidity for this plant is spraying, but they can be carried out only outside the period of budding and flowering, so during the season of heating systems for the Schlumberger, air humidity must be maintained by installing special appliances or pallets with wet moss, expanded clay, stones.
Fertilizing and fertilizer composition
For Schlumbergera, top dressing can be carried out only outside the resting period. Since September, fertilizer is interrupted, resuming only when the cactus again grows. Too generous top dressing will not benefit the plant: fertilizers are applied either in a dosage reduced in half, or twice less than for ordinary indoor plants.
For Schlumbergera, you need to use special fertilizers for succulents and cacti. They do not tolerate high nitrogen content, they need an increased dose of potassium.
Trimming and shaping Schlumberger
Without special measures to thicken, Schlumbergera will never turn into lush, elegant bushes. Usually this plant is prone not only to stretch, but also to lose the ability to produce lateral shoots as the number of segments increases.
For Schlumbergera, very simple formation measures are needed - plucking or breaking off the extreme segments to stimulate the growth of new branches. Cutting segments is not worth it, but a simple rotational movement with a flat segment in your hand is the best option. Places of breakage are not processed.
The formation procedure on Schlumbergeras is best carried out immediately after flowering.
Over time, the lower part of the shoots becomes lignified, but with regular formation, the plant retains decorativeness for decades.
Schlumbergera transplant, containers and substrate
Schlumbergera is transplanted only when she has mastered the previous capacity. For large and adult Schlumberger, you can restrict yourself to a transplant every five years. It is better to carry out a transplant shortly after the end of flowering, before the rapid growth of greenery, in extreme cases - in the beginning or middle of spring, during March or April.
When choosing containers for growing Schlumberger, it is better to dwell on classic pots for epiphytes with a minimum height, in extreme cases - not exceeding the diameter. The brighter the capacity, the better this plant looks.
Unlike many other brethren, Schlumbergera cannot grow in poor and too light soil. This plant needs high-quality soil with good nutritional indicators. You can use special soil for epiphytes or substrates for succulents. PH values should remain within the range of 5.5-6.5.
If the soil is mixed independently, it is better to stay on a simple soil mixture of sand, sheet and turf soil in a ratio of 1: 2: 1 or a mixture of sand and sheet soil. Even in a purchased substrate, it is better to add charcoal as a preventative measure.
When transplanting a plant, it is worth handling as carefully as possible with numerous shoots and with the roots of the plant, trying to avoid contacts and carefully handling the cactus.
Diseases, pests and problems in the cultivation of Schlumbergera
Of the diseases of Schlumberger, Fusarium and rot are threatened, and even then with improper care. With a mild lesion, the correction of care will have time to stop the process, but with a serious one, it is necessary to cut out the damaged parts and an emergency transplant with fungicide treatment.
Pests of Schlumberger threaten when kept in dry air. Scorpions and felts are very fond of beautifully flowering cactus, which are better to fight with insecticides right away.
Common problems in growing Schlumberger:
- stunting when the substrate dries in the summer or when overflowing at dormancy;
- dropping buds when water gets in and sudden changes in temperature;
- lethargy or wrinkling due to improper watering;
- redness of shoots in too bright a light;
- lack of flowering during an unstable dormant period.
Schlumbergera never entered the list of elite, expensive plants - first of all, because it is very easy to propagate. A plant at home can be obtained from simple cuttings.
The stem cuttings of Schlumbergera do not take root too quickly, but there is nothing complicated in the process of growing new plants. The best time for cuttings is similar to the period of formation - immediately after flowering. But for rooting, not individual segments are used, but apical fragments of the stem with 2-3 segments.
The place of breaking off is treated with charcoal and dried. Schlumbergera rooting cuttings in light soil or a simple sand-peat substrate, under a hood with regular ventilation or without it, with frequent light watering. Plants grow fast enough.
Vaccination is a method of obtaining and preserving luxurious varietal plants at no extra cost for those who have a large collection of cacti. As a stock, not other schlumbergeras are used, but prickly pear or prickly prickly prickles, if desired, to obtain a standard or tree-like form. The vaccine is carried out in the summer, on the bare stems split at the top, grafting shoots with 2-3 segments.
Splicing is carried out without a cap, at a moderate temperature of about 20 degrees. As it grows from the stock, any leaves and shoots are removed.