Schlumbergera russelliana (Thanksgiving Cactus) is an ornamental, flowering cactus. It has leafless green stems which act as photosynthetic organs. The stems are composed of strongly flattened segments, which have a small number of notches along their edges. Individual segments are about 1.5 inches long by 0.8 inches wide. The flowers hang downwards and are radially symmetrical. They are about 2-inch long by 1.6 inches across. The tepals, which are of various shades of pink, are arranged in two groups, giving the appearance of a flower within a flower. The inner tepals are longer and fused together at the base to form a floral tube about 1.2 inches long, nectar is produced at the base of this tube. Plants flower in the spring. The fruit is greenish-yellow, with four to five ribs. The shiny seeds are dark brown, each with a diameter of about 1 mm.
Species: S. russelliana
Scientific Name: Schlumbergera russelliana
Synonyms: Epiphyllum russellianum
Common Names: Christmas Cactus or Thanksgiving Cactus.
How to grow and maintain Schlumbergera russelliana:
It thrives best in the bright, but indirect light. Direct sunlight should be avoided, as it can cause brown spots.
It prefers to grow in neutral, Well-drained soil. Use a mixture of 1 part potting soil and 1 part fine-grade fir bark.
To set flower buds, the plant needs cool 60-65°F/16-18°C days and 45°F-55°F/7-13°C nights. Once buds set, 70°F-75°F/21-24°C days and 60°F-70°F/16-21°C nights. Plant death can occur at below 50°F (10°C).
Water regularly, keep the soil evenly moist but not soggy. After flowering, water sparingly until new growth begins in spring.
Fertilize every two weeks with a balanced liquid fertilizer diluted by half. After blooms have dropped, stop fertilizing for a month.
It can be easily propagated by stem cuttings. Take stem cuttings from one to four segments. Allow the cut ends to dry for 24 hours before placing upright in moist perlite. Rooting occurs between 3-4 weeks. It is rarely propagated by seed, sow seeds in the spring.
Re-pot every year or every 2 years in the mid-summer. Never re-pot during the bloom or following resting period. Re-pot by removing only the loose soil around the roots. Transfer immediately to a wider pot.
Pests and Diseases:
It has no serious pest or disease problems. Watch for spider mites, mealybugs, and fungus. Add an insecticide to the water 2 to 3 times a year to combat pests as well as a systemic fungicide to prevent the orange and brown spotting that sometimes affects them.