The scientific name of this unusual plant is Schlumbergera, but they are also known and Christmas Cactus, Thanksgiving Cactus, Claw Cactus, Holiday Cactus and Crab Cactus. I’ve only ever known them as Zygocactus, or Zygos for short.
I guess the reference to Christmas and Thanksgiving comes from North America as these plants flower during the cooler months. Sure enough, this name doesn’t make a lot of sense in the southern hemisphere where they flower in the middle of the year. In fact, they flower in response to lengthening nights and do not like direct sunlight.
Knowing this makes it easier to comprehend that, although they are cacti, they are not a desert dwelling plant. They are epiphytes – plants which depend on others for support but not nutrition – and come from the jungles of south-east Brazil. Those jungles are humid and have high rainfall, quite the opposite of the environment where you would expect cacti to flourish.
These days there’s a stunning range of flower colours and shapes available thanks to the tireless efforts of breeders all over the world, however, originally zygos were mostly seen with bright (cerise) pink flowers.
I’m eagerly waiting for my plants to open their flowers so I can see what their colours are. Perhaps I’m being very impatient as I have buds everywhere but, so far, only one plant with opened flowers. A gorgeous pink and I believe the fact that this is the colour I have in flower says something about the ‘roots’ of this plant.
Don’t you think those delicate petals look like intricate, gossamer wings?
After the Sun hit it, that colour deepened further making it infinitely more stunning.
I can hardly wait to find out what other colours I have.