Since the Christmas Cactus, Zygocactus truncatus, is such a popular and useful plant, I shall describe its cultivation in some detail.
As its common name implies, flowering usually occurs over the Christmas period, and if not then, certainly very soon afterwards. The colour of theis deep pink and they appear at the end of the leaf-like segments. The habit of growth is pendulous and pieces of zygocactus are often grafted on to another upright cactus. Such as pereskia, to make a standard plant.
The usual method of propagation is by cuttings taken in the spring. These should consist of several stem segments and they root readily if inserted in small pots containing a mixture of 1 part loam. 2 parts moist peat and 3 parts coarse sand. Several cuttings can be placed around the edge of a 3-in. pot.
When rooted, each plant should be potted individually in a 3-in. pot. Use a similar potting compost to the one already mentioned under ‘Potting’.
Unlike many other cacti, zygocactus must not be allowed to dry out in the winter, although much less water is needed at that time of year. In the summer the plants in their pots should be plunged in a bed of peat or ashes in a cold frame. This will help to ripen the growths, and will encourage a good crop of flowers. Themust be kept amply moist and light overhead sprays of water will encourage good growth. Light shade should also be given from strong sunshine.
During the summer when the plants are established in their pots feeding can be carried out with a liquid or soluble fertiliser every 10 days.
In September the plants must be returned to a cool greenhouse. Flowering can be hastened a little by raising the temperature provided the air is kept fairly moist with light sprays of water.