Schlumbergera – The ‘Crabs Claw Cactus’
With only half a dozen species in the genus, the Schlumbergera varieties offered for sale owe a lot to intensive hybridisation. Commonly called the ‘Christmas Cactus’, ‘Holiday Cactus’ and ‘Crabs Claw Cactus’ we do prefer the botanical name, its not that difficult to pronounce.
Grown for the brilliant flowers these epiphytic plants these cactus come from the rain forests of Brazil where they grow on the trunks of other plants. They love a little humidity and make great plants for growing in hanging baskets.
Flower colour varies from white through to the brilliant luminescent pinks and purples, and as they flower in winter they add great colour to a patio or warm sheltered position while many other plants are dormant. The ‘Christmas Cactus’ name is from the Northern Hemisphere as this is when most species bloom, however, some will flower 2 months earlier than this.
We think the best way to grow these plants is in a hanging basket, where they great specimens and grow well in a position where they get warmth and filtered light. Schlumbergera are a succulent plant that are actually a cactus, sometimes referred to as ‘Crabs Claw Cactus’ they are actually epiphytes and require similar care to many orchids.
Schlumbergera truncata is the most commonly grown species, however it is the hybrids thats we see more widely for sale. Cultivars such as schlumbergera truncata madame butterfly pictured right are available for sale from specialist nurseries and plant fairs.
Schlumbergera bridgesii is another popular species.