LEGEND has it the Christmas Cactus dates back many years to the land now known as Bolivia and a Jesuit missionary, Father Jose, who labored endlessly to convert the natives there. He had come across the Andes Mountains from the city of Lim nearly a year before. But he felt the people of this village on the edge of the great jungle were still suspicious. He had cared for the sick and shown the natives how to improve their simple dwellings, which leaked dismally in the rainy season. Most important, he had attempted to teach them the story of the Bible, especially the life of Jesus, though much seemed to be beyond their comprehension. He had told them about the beautifully decorated altars in cities during holidays, yet here it was Christmas Eve and he was on his knees alone in from of his rude altar. Then he heard voices singing a familiar hymn he had taught his flock. He turned to see a procession of the village children carrying armfuls of blooming green branches (which we now know as the Christmas Cactus) that they had gathered in the jungle for the Christ Child. Father Jose joyfully gave thanks for this hopeful budding of Christianity. Today the Christmas cactus still blooms each winter with its message of faith and hope.
Caring For A Christmas Cactus:
WATER: Water the plant evenly during most of the year. It likes to be in well-drained, porous soil.
LIGHT: Unlike most succulents, the Christmas cactus dislikes too much direct summer sun.
SPECIAL AID: To ensure holiday bloom, stop watering the plant in the fall for a month. Resume watering in November, but don't let the stems get flabby from too much water. Starting in October, keep the plant where it's cool at night 60 to 65degrees.
Note from Elf Dee, some Christmas Cactus have a mind of their own and are known to have flowering patterns of their own. I think she must be talking from experience!