Magazine article Sunset

Holiday Cactus

Magazine article Sunset

Holiday Cactus

Article excerpt

More reasons than ever to love this great plant

Christmas cactus can grow on you in more ways than one. Sure, the plants just get bigger and better every year. They pump out masses of delicate jungle flowers in rosy red, white, orange, pink, and pale yellow, depending on the variety, just in time for the holidays. And although they're true cactus, their spines are so tiny and soft that you'll scarcely notice them-and never get pricked.

But the plants are also incredibly forgiving, blooming every year on very little care. They can live for 25 years or more. Try growing one, and you'll discover why seasoned gardeners often treat Christmas cactus like a favorite pet or a living-room celebrity. Ready to start? Plants are available this month at garden centers and grocery stores.

Caring for Christmas cactus

* Light. A cool, bright spot out of direct sun is best for these tropical epiphytes that grow naturally in rain-forest trees. Keep one on display near an east-facing window, and it won't know it ever left the jungle.

* Water. Before watering, check soil moisture with your index finger. …

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