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zygo cactus

zone 10

Zygo Cactus  plant care

A Zygo Cactus (Schlumbergera truncata) in full bloom is simply exquisite yet this plant is one of the easiest to grow at home. The zygo is also known as the Christmas Cactus, Thanksgiving Cactus or Winter Cactus since their natural blooming period is late fall and early winter. Worldwide hybridization has made them available in an array of colors and hana bay makes them available in various shades of pink, red, salmon and fuschia as well as white. It’s fun to see how many different shades one can find!


The Zygo Cactus, although it is a succulent and may resemble a cactus, is really not a cactus. Rather, it is an epiphyte, which means that it is a plant that grows on trees and gets its nourishment from rain and air. It is a native to the jungles of Brazil where they grow attached to the branches of trees much like the orchid. The plant is named after Frederic Schlumberger of France, a patron of horticultural botany who was a well-known collector of cacti. More than 200 cultivars have been hybridized and serious collectors are challenged to find them all! Where temperatures are moderate, they can be grown in the yard but they generally do better and are easier to grow under cover as potted plants.


Temperature ~ 60-75° F. during the day, down to 50° at night. Tolerates 38-90° F. and perhaps occasional light frosts but not freezing conditions. Flowers last longer if plant is kept in cool environment.

Water ~ Keep moist but not soggy. Drain well after watering. Can tolerate some drought but don’t overdo it.

Light ~ Medium diffused. To regulate blooming time, see After Care, below.

Fertilizer ~ None needed during blooming period. After blooming, light feeding with evenly balanced nutrient mix (time-release capsules are fine) is recommended.

Soil ~ Coarse peat moss.

Garden Suitability/USDA Zone(s) ~ Zone 10 and possibly zone 9. Likes a slightly shaded area, free from heavy frost. Best use is as a houseplant. Zone maps are available upon request.


After the zygo has finished blooming, place the plant in semi-shade (lathed patio area is good) where it will receive adequate light but very little direct sun. Unlike other cacti, the zygo plant should not be exposed to continuous bright sunlight since the “leaves” (technically called phylloclades) may blister if it gets too much sun. If possible, provide minimum night temperatures of 50° F., although day temperatures can be as high as 80-90° F. Keep the soil moist but never soggy; soak the soil well, then drain excess so plant doesn’t sit in water. Wait until the top of the soil feels dry to the touch before watering well again. In a temperate climate, the natural blooming period is late fall or early winter; however, with a little cultural manipulation, the plant can be regulated to bloom almost anytime from November through March. Here’s what you need to do:

About 7-8 weeks before the blooms are desired, lower the night temperature to 55-60° F. and provide 13-14 hours total darkness each night by covering it with a box or placing it in a cool dark closet. During the day, keep the plant in its normal well-lit warm area. Continue this until the buds are set and getting plump, usually 5-7 weeks. Unless the night temperature is lowered, the zygo will usually not form buds regardless of the shortened days. Be careful not to let the night temperature fall below 55° F. or the day temperature much exceed 70° F. since these conditions could also prevent bud formation. Keep the soil moist. Do not fertilize the plant during this or the blooming period. When the buds are nice and large, this procedure may be discontinued. Just remember to provide the plant with adequate light and temperature since any sudden change in environmental conditions may cause the buds and flowers to fall off. Even when a room is comfortably warm, if the plant is exposed to hot air from a heater vent or to a draft from a door or window, buds can sometimes drop.


For maximum enjoyment of a plant, it is important to select the best possible plant at the store. Here are a few tips:

  1. Choose a plant with some open flowers and plenty of buds. Generally, the more buds it has, the longer you can enjoy it.
  2. Choose a plant with healthy, turgid leaves. Yellow or droopy leaves are not a good sign.
  3. Feel the soil. It should be slightly moist but not wet. Avoid plants with soggy or excessively dry soil.
  4. Buy your plant from a retailer that sells quality plants and one who takes pride in caring for their plants! All the plants should look healthy and vigorous and the plant area clean and well lit.
  5. And, of course, look for hana bay flowers , the ones with the distinctive hummingbird label!

We appreciate hearing from you, the consumer, to hear how one of our plants may have touched your life. We also appreciate the opportunity it gives us to pass on information that will enhance your enjoyment of a plant. We hope this gives you a little more knowledge about the zygo cactus and will encourage you to look for it as well as our other products wherever quality plants are sold. We at hana bay flowers continually strive to produce the finest plants possible in our continued effort to Bring Beauty to Life . . . to your life!

Not Intended for Human Consumption. Use saucers to protect furniture.