Tip of the Week – Focus on Zygocactus

Schlumbergera truncata Zygos are a tough & colourful thornless Cactus. They come in many colours & tones from reds, pinks, lavenders and purples to yellow, oranges and whites. Flowering in winter in a spectacular way they look great in a hanging basket or pot. They are very easy care. You can also plant them on the outside of a big pot where you have a central plant. Makes good use of that extra pot space. Zygos multiply & grow bigger and stronger each year. In the Northern Hemisphere they call it Christmas Cactus because it flowers in their Christmas period.


The original species comes from the rainforests of South America where they live as epiphytes on trees. The Zygos you see today are hybrids from the one species Schlumbergera truncata where variations have been crossed over many years.


Flowers are unique looking …tubular and hooded…quite a fabulous arrangement. They bud up on the ends of each stem in late autumn. Buds set when the night temperatures drop to 7-13oC. They appreciate a litlle more shaded light when growing but bring them undercover in autumn to help onset of flowering. You can however leave them undercover all the time and get good flowering.Remove the spent flowers and you will get another round!


The foliage is flat and in short segments with indentations that make it look like a crab claw. So it is sometimes called Crab Cactus.There is a central midrib. The foliage starts erect but then arches and hangs. When you prune it back a little you can replant the segments or give them away. Pruning creates a branching point and it will  branch there creating more stems & flowers.


All mild climates.

Potting Mix

Just use a well drained potting mix.


Easily propagated by cuttings in spring and summer. Just twist off two segments at a time and plant upright in a small pot in a very well drained mix and they will soon set roots and start growing for you. Seeds …If you get cross fertilisation you will get small brightly coloured fruit with seeds inside. Leave the fruit until its ready to fall off, then scrape out the seeds. They will germinate over a few weeks… but only very lightly cover with sand etc and cover the gemination tray with plastic.

Water Requirements

Being a Cactus with its own internal water supply…they dont require a lot of watering. You can just water with other plants however you are not going to kill them unless you have them boggy.


An all round liquid fertiliser in the growing season say every 6 weeks and up until bud formation in late autumn.Add a slow release pellet fertiliser annually well before spring.

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