The unique tropical Christmas cactus has been kept as a beloved holiday houseplant since the 1800’s. It is quite a bit different from cacti that grow in the dessert, because it actually keeps its blooms longer in cooler temperatures, and even wilts if it does not get enough water! They are great in hanging baskets from the florist.
Schlumbergera truncata is the botanical name of the Christmas cactus. The name is derived from Frédéric Schlumberger, a well known Frenchman who collected cacti and grew them at his home. Flower shops have many colors to embrace such as red, fuscia, pink, purple, orange and crème, the flowers of the Christmas cactus are pleasant indeed.
As for the “Christmas Tree”… Pine and fir trees are evergreens found in cold climates, and these generally are used as Christmas trees. They bring people comfort from the cold harsh winter. However, since some countries like Africa and Australia have hot dry conditions, nature does not provide pine and fir trees. So the custom of decorating the Christmas cactus as Christmas tree came into being. They decorate the Christmas cactus just as we would, having the best of both worlds with ornaments and flowers!
Here is a neat article from HGTV on these delightful plants: http://www.hgtv.com/decorating/getting-the-best-out-of-your-holiday-plants/index.html
Flowers by the Falls . Kings Mountain, NC (704) 739-7331