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Popular Holiday Cactus & Some Facts about Christmas Cactus Flowers

Christmas Cactus

Christmas Cactus FlowersChristmas cactus, also known as Orchid Cactus, is a great gift idea on Christmas eve when in full bloom. Christmas cactus is a popular, winter-flowering houseplant native to Brazil. pendulous stems of Christmas cactus make it a great choice for hanging baskets.

What is a Cactus?

A cactus (plural, cacti) is a type of succulent plant belonging to the dicotyledonous flowering plant family, Cactaceae. The Cactaceae has around 90 genera and some 1,500 to 1,800 species. Cacti are well-known natives of the Americas, mostly in desert areas. Some are also rainforest epiphytes, growing on tree branches where, despite the high rainfall, water drains off quickly so that "dry" conditions prevail much of the time.

Facts about Christmas Cactus

  • Cacti are believed to have evolved in the last 30 to 40 million years ago.
  • Like many tropical cacti, Christmas Cactus is also an epiphyte.
  • The flowers are available in a wide variety of colors including red, purple, orange, pink, fuschia, cream, etc.
  • Christmas cactus is a member of a group sold as holiday cacti that also includes Thanksgiving cactus and the Easter cactus.
  • The green, flattened, leaf-like structures that make up the majority of a Christmas Cactus are actually modified stem segments called cladodes. In most cacti, the leaves have been modified into spines which have many different functions for the plant. In the Christmas Cactus, the leaves and spines are absent.
  • Various plant species require cues from the environment to regulate the timing of certain events, like flowering. This mechanism called photoperiodism occurs when plants initiate flowering or other activities in response to relative lengths of daylight and darkness.

Popular Holiday Cacti

The three common flowering cacti are called holiday cacti. The three types of holiday cacti are-

Cactus Scientific Name Description
Christmas Cactus Schlumbergera bridgessii The Christmas Cactus have pointed lobed leaves and are given from Thanksgiving to Christmas. These are also called True cacti.
Thanksgiving Cactus Schlumbergera truncatus These cacti are also called Crab or Yoke Cacti. They are available from early fall through christmas.
Easter Cactus Rhipsalidopsis gaertnerii These cacti flowers have wider rounded leaves and are given from Christmas to Easter.
The stems of Christmas Cactus consist of small cushiony sections called "areoles" which identify them as true cacti. On other cacti, spines and true leaves arise from the areoles. The flowers on the holiday cacti are formed on the tips of the segments.

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