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
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
Water ~ Keep moist but not soggy.
Drain well after watering. Can tolerate some drought
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
- Choose a plant with some open flowers and plenty of
buds. Generally, the more buds it has, the longer you
can enjoy it.
- Choose a plant with healthy, turgid leaves. Yellow
or droopy leaves are not a good sign.
- Feel the soil. It should be slightly moist but not
wet. Avoid plants with soggy or excessively dry soil.
- 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.
- 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!
for Human Consumption. Use saucers to protect furniture.