Schlumbergera opuntioides

Schlumbergera opuntioides

Last updated on August 2nd, 2022 at 12:47 pm

Schlumbergera opuntioides are epiphytic cacti native to South and Central America and the Caribbean. These cacti are named after nineteenth century botanist Rembert Dodoens who called them Cactee Opuntia, because he was unable to decipher their true identity. Today, they are also known as holiday cacti because of their popularity during the Christmas and Thanksgiving holidays in the United States.

These South American succulents are in the Cactaceae family, which includes about 175 genera with more than 2,000 species of plants, making it one of the largest plant families in existence today. Schlumbergera opuntioides are especially popular in the fall months when they are in bloom and grow well indoors if they are kept near a window that receives plenty of sunlight throughout the day.

Origin and distribution

Schlumbergera opuntioides is a cactus native to Brazil. It grows in the rainforest on trees or rocks, and can also be found in cultivation. The plant has been introduced to other areas, including Europe, where it is sometimes grown as a houseplant. The flowers are bright red, pinkish-red, or white and bloom all year round.

In their natural habitat, the plant will grow between 10-30cm tall. They do not need much light but prefer shade during the hottest hours of the day (sunlight will burn them). They should not be placed near open windows that let too much cold air in since they need protection from drafts when young (they cannot tolerate frost).

They like good drainage so make sure they don’t sit in water or potting mix stays moist for long periods of time. Keep soil slightly moist, but never soggy wet. Allow soil to dry out slightly before watering again.

Schlumbergera opuntioides propagation

Schlumbergera opuntioides

Schlumbergera can be easily propagated from stem or leaf cuttings. To propagate from stem cuttings, remove a 2-4 inch piece of stem from the main plant and allow it to callous for a few days. Next, pot the cutting in the well-draining cactus mix and place it in a bright, sunny spot.

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Water regularly, allowing the soil to dry out completely between waterings. In 4-6 weeks, you should see new growth emerging from the cutting. If growing from leaf cuttings, use a sharp knife or razor blade to make a clean slice on the underside of the base of each leaflet along its entire length.

Plant your cutting into an appropriate potting medium (cactus mix) and mist it with distilled water every other day until you see new growth emerge.

Schlumbergera opuntioides care information

Schlumbergera opuntioides

Schlumbergera opuntioides, or Christmas cactus, is a beautiful and easy-to-care-for plant. They are perfect for beginner gardeners or those looking for a low-maintenance plant. They prefer to be kept on the drier side and should be watered only when the soil is completely dry.

Light requirement

Schlumbergera opuntioides require a minimum of four hours of direct sunlight per day. If you cannot provide this, then place the plant under a grow light for about six hours each day.

It does best in bright, indirect light but can tolerate some direct sun. too much sun will cause the leaves to scorch. If you notice the leaves turning yellow, this is a sign of too much light. A quick fix is to move the plant farther away from any windows.

Soil/potting mix

A well-draining, cactus potting mix is ideal for schlumbergera opuntioides. You can make your own by mixing together one part of perlite or coarse sand with two parts of potting soil.

Add a little bit of bone meal and finely ground limestone to the mixture.

After it’s ready, pack it into pots so that the soil is about 2 inches from the top of the pot. Schlumbergera opuntioides should be planted at a depth that is half their height plus 1 inch of added dirt on top. They are tolerant of dry conditions but will require watering during droughts or if their pots are left in direct sunlight all day long.


Allow the soil to dry out almost completely before watering again. When you do water, give the plant a good soaking until water runs out of the drainage holes. Reduce watering in the winter.

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If the leaves start to shrivel and drop, you’re probably not watering enough. If the stems and leaves turn mushy and start to rot, you’re probably watering too much. You should also be careful not to over-water your plants because they can’t handle wet feet for long periods of time.

Give them an inch or two at most when you do water them so that their roots don’t sit in water for long periods of time. Schlumbergera opuntioides are very drought tolerant so don’t worry about leaving it out on your porch or balcony during the summer months without watering it once or twice a week as long as there is plenty of sunlight and airflow.


Fertilizing your Schlumbergera is important for its health and growth. Use a balanced fertilizer that is high in phosphorus during the blooming season. You can apply fertilizer every two weeks or monthly. Be sure to follow the package directions for application rates.

Your plant may need more fertilization if it does not bloom often, or if you notice some of the leaves turn yellow. During winter months, cut back on fertilization as it will only slow down plant growth when days are shorter and colder.


Schlumbergera opuntioides are native to Brazil and generally prefer warm temperatures. They can tolerate a wide range of temperatures, but prefer to be on the warmer side.

During the winter months, they will go dormant and may lose some leaves. It is important to not let them get too cold, as this can damage the plant. They should be kept above 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Plants grown in greenhouses should be monitored for high humidity levels which can cause these plants to rot.

They should be kept away from drafts, near an east-facing window for best light exposure. Keep them away from heaters, vents, and fireplaces.

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Your Schlumbergera opuntioides will thrive in a humid environment. If the air in your home is dry, you can increase the humidity around your plant by grouping it with other plants, running a humidifier, or placing it on a pebble tray. If the leaves of your plant start to curl, this is a sign that the air is too dry.

The ideal humidity level is between 50% and 60%. High humidity levels may lead to root rot so make sure not to keep the soil too wet either.


If your Schlumbergera opuntioides is looking a little leggy, you can give it a light pruning. Pinch back the stems to encourage new growth and bushiness. Be careful not to remove too much, as this can shock the plant. If you do accidentally prune too much, don’t worry! Just give the plant some time to recover and it should be back to normal in no time.

When to repot

Schlumbergera opuntioides can be repotted at any time of year, but spring is the best season. The plant should be moved to a pot that is only one size larger than its current pot.

Be sure to use well-draining cactus mix and place the plant in a bright spot. Water the plant thoroughly after repotting and do not fertilize for six weeks. Fertilize with a high-nitrogen fertilizer two months before the flowering period begins, again three weeks before flowers open, and once more two weeks after they have finished blooming. Feeding during this period will result in more flowers per stem.

Dormancy/Winter rest

Schlumbergera opuntioides is a species of cactus that requires a winter rest period in order to flower. This means that from October to February, the plant will not need as much water or fertilizer and can be kept drier than usual.

During this time, it’s important to keep the plant out of direct sunlight and allow the soil to dry out completely between watering. It’s also best to avoid fertilizing at all during dormancy. After March, resume normal care practices including watering more frequently and feeding with a balanced fertilizer every two weeks.

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Schlumbergera opuntioides flower & fragrance

Schlumbergera opuntioides

The Schlumbergera opuntioides is a beautiful cactus that produces lovely pink flowers. If you are looking for easy-to-care-for plants, this may be the one for you.

Growth rate

The growth rate of Schlumbergera opuntioides is moderate. In the wild, it can take up to 10 years for a plant to reach full maturity. When grown in captivity, however, it typically takes 3-5 years to reach full size.


Although Schlumbergera opuntioides is not poisonous, it can cause stomach upset if ingested in large quantities. The plant is also known to cause contact dermatitis in some people. If you experience any irritation after coming into contact with the plant, wash the affected area with soap and water and avoid further contact.

USDA hardiness zones

Schlumbergera opuntioides grows best in USDA hardiness zones 9-11. They are not frosted tolerant and will die if exposed to freezing temperatures. As a result, it is important to grow these plants indoors as houseplants during the winter months.

Pests and diseases

Schlumbergera opuntioides are generally pest and disease free. However, mealybugs and spider mites can be a problem if the plant is not kept clean. If you see any pests, simply wipe them off with a damp cloth or neem oil.

As for diseases, watch out for root rot and stem rot, which can be caused by overwatering and underwatering respectively.

The first sign of these two conditions is wilting. To prevent these problems, water when dry soil feels like crumpled newspaper, and do not let it sit in water at all times. You may also want to add perlite to your potting mix to improve drainage.