Decembrist (Schlumberger)

Decembrist (Schlumberger)

The Schlumberger cactus (Schlumbergera), or the Decembrist or Zygocactus, is fundamentally different from the rest of its congeners. It is not prickly and does not tolerate the scorching sun. The original "leaves" of the zygocactus fastened together are actually its modified stems-shoots. The natural habitats of the Decembrists are tropical forests. There, these epiphytic plants live on the branches of large trees, using them only as protection and support.

A feature of zygocactus is the timing of its flowering. In mid-latitudes, its flowers can be admired in late autumn or winter, when the summer season begins in the Schlumberger's native tropics. It was the month of flowering that gave the plant the name "Decembrist". Sometimes the cactus is also called the "Christmas tree".

The flower first arrived in Europe at the beginning of the 19th century, it was brought there by the English collector Alan Cunningham. Thanks to selection, today this plant has many varieties with flowers of different colors.

The natural shade of flowers is red and its slight fluctuations between light and dark tones. Then there were pink flowers, white, purple, orange, and also multi-colored. 15 years of work bore fruit for the Australian breeder - a hybrid with a pure yellow flowering.

Basic rules for growing a Decembrist

The table shows brief rules for caring for a Decembrist at home.

Lighting levelShould be moderate. For a zygocactus, diffused light from east or west windows will be optimal. Shading will be required on the southern windowsill during periods of active sun.
Content temperatureFrom +18 degrees and above, the flower tolerates heat. Optimal degrees in summer are about +20 degrees, in winter you can reduce the heat to +15 degrees.
Watering modeModerate. The soil in the pot should dry out a few centimeters in depth.
Air humidityThe room should be high. In the summer, the Decembrist bush is sprayed with a spray bottle 2-3 times a week. In winter, you can do this less often, just a couple of times a month.
Top dressingHeld from early spring to September. As a fertilizer, universal mineral compositions for cacti are used.
Flowering periodUsually falls in December or January.
Dormant periodConsists of two phases. The first (before the flowering of zygocactus) occurs in the autumn months, October and November. The second (after flowering) in February and early March.
TransferThe need for transplants occurs as the flower grows. Young bushes are transplanted annually, adults less often - once every 5-6 years.
PruningIt is not carried out in the usual form. To form a bush, you can carefully pinch off individual segments with your hands.
ReproductionZygocactus can be propagated by cuttings, seeds or grafting.
PestsScabbard, mealybug and spider mite.
DiseasesPhytophthora, phytium, fusarium, bacterial diseases.

Features of the Decembrist

In addition to the flowering period, which is unusual for most of the home flowers, the Decembrist has a number of features, the knowledge of which will help in growing it. With proper care, a beautiful plant will delight owners for up to 20 years.

  • The southern windows do not suit the flower due to the fact that in the bright sun it loses its visual appeal. The abundance of light leads to the death of the tips of the stems, and with this - to problems with future flowering. That is why it is better to keep the Decembrist pot on the windows of the east and west.
  • The flower will appreciate the high humidity of the air. From time to time, you can bathe the plant under a warm shower, or at least spray it.
  • Fresh air is useful for healthy growth, especially on hot summer days. During this period, it is advisable to transfer the flower to the balcony, garden or any other open and ventilated, but slightly shady place.
  • When the Decembrist begins to form buds, it is better not to disturb the pot with it. Any movement can lead to their dropping.
  • If the room is slightly cool (about +16), the flowering period may take longer.
  • Schlumberger species can be used as ampelous plants, placing them in hanging pots.

Caring for the Decembrist at home

The Decembrist belongs to one of the unique indoor plants that are capable of surviving even in the most extreme conditions. Another feature of the Decembrist is longevity - for almost a quarter of a century, the plant can delight the eye of its owner. The reason for this is the high resistance to parasites and bacteria. Leaving is not burdensome, but the result is simply amazing and it lies in the lush bush of the Decembrist before the New Year holidays.


If most cacti grow calmly in the scorching sun, it can harm the Decembrist. Provide moderate shading for the flower.

Content temperature

The Schlumberger cactus tolerates normal indoor conditions well and does not require a significant drop in degrees in winter. The temperature in the native forests of the plant does not differ in strong drops; heat and humidity are constantly retained there. Non-hot +18 +22 degrees are considered the most optimal for the growth period of the zygocactus. But if the plant is not on a window, it is recommended to keep the pot in a cooler place during dormant periods.

Watering mode

Although the Decembrist belongs to the cactus family, the general rules for growing deciduous plants are more suitable for him. Do not leave the flower without moisture for too long: watering should be regular. Standing water at room temperature is best suited: cold watering can lead to disease. If the temperature in the room does not exceed +14 degrees, it is not worth moistening the soil too often.

Air humidity

The plant does not tolerate excessively dry air, so it is worth periodically moistening it with a sprayer. If there is not enough time for this procedure, you can set the pot with zygocactus on a pallet with moss, wet pebbles or expanded clay. It is recommended from time to time to clean the Decembrist's shoots with a warm shower, after covering the ground with a waterproof film. But during the flowering period, you should not wash it.

The soil

For planting a Decembrist, you can use standard soil for cacti or a slightly acidic mixture of two parts of leafy earth with part of the turf and part of the sand. The resulting soil should be loose and breathable. As a baking powder, you can add vermiculite or broken brick there, and for disinfection - a little crushed coal.

The Decembrist needs a drainage system so that it represents the first layer in the pot. Then it is filled with the prepared mixture, and in the third layer activated carbon or wood ash can be laid. A Schlumberger is planted in such a soil system. The ampel variety of the Decembrist prefers a wider pot with a small height. This also applies to other varieties, but not so clearly.

Top dressing

Fertilizing zygocactus begins in March. Usually, a standard cactus fertilizer is used for this, but at half the dosage. The frequency of feeding depends on the period of plant development. In the spring, once a month will be enough. In the summer, as the shoots grow, you can apply fertilizer every two weeks. In September, they stop feeding the flower.

In addition to mineral fertilizers that aid growth, the plant can be treated with fungicidal preparations as a prevention of fungal diseases.


Schlumberger transplant is carried out at the end of its flowering, when the plant rests and starts growing again. This usually happens from the end of February to the end of April. Small bushes need to be moved to a new container annually. It should be only a couple of centimeters wider than the previous one. Adult specimens are moved less often - once every 3-5 years.

The roots of the Decembrist are located close to the soil surface, so you should not choose a deep pot for it. Better to give preference to a wide low capacity. A third of it is filled with drainage.

The Decembrist is transplanted together with an earthen lump, new soil is poured into the resulting voids.


The formation of the bush is done in early summer. Shoots that are too long or bent out of the mass can simply be carefully unscrewed. This gentle breaking off is less traumatic for the plant and allows the cut to tighten faster. This procedure not only improves the appearance of the bush, but also contributes to the abundance of future flowering. In place of the torn off "leaf" several will begin to grow at once.

An interesting fact is the negative attitude of the Decembrist to cutting objects. Faded buds must be carefully plucked with your fingers. This will help keep the stem from branching and also increase the number of buds for the next year.


The Decembrist is one of those plants that are manageable for flowering. If you put a flower pot on a sunny windowsill, it turns out that flowers will appear almost in February. If the illuminated period for a flower is not more than ten hours, then flowering begins in December. The appearance of colors and the illuminated period are interrelated.

If you shade a flower, then after fifty days the first flowers appear. It is this knowledge that allows you to accurately set the flowering time. It is also worth considering for lovers of this peculiar plant that you should not screw a bright lamp next to the flowers, this will increase the preparation process for the transformation of the zygocactus. Street lighting can also have a bad effect if it is bright and directed towards the window where the Decembrist is.

For the flowering of the Decembrist, even Spartan conditions are tripled. For this, a glazed or rain-protected balcony or an awning that covers the flower from sunlight is perfect. When the first cold weather appears (late August, early September), the pot with the plant is placed in a similar place and is not watered for a whole month.

With such hardening, wilting of younger shoots can occur, but this is not fatal for the Decembrist. Such a non-humane method will complete one stage of the flower's life and prepare it for a new round of life - flowering, and then for the continuation of growth. When the outdoor temperature drops to +10 degrees, the flower is returned to its natural environment and watering begins, but very moderate and in no case is it poured.

If it is impossible to shake the plant, it is necessary to at least reduce watering and darken. Another of the unique properties of the Decembrist is the dependence of the brightness of the color on the temperature. The most intense shade of a flower is formed at a stable room temperature of +18 degrees. A sad event is the dropping of the bud - this is associated with the movement of the pot from the established place.

How to make the "Decembrist" bloom - Everything will be kind

Post-flowering care

When the Schlumberger fades, the pot with it can be rearranged to cool, slightly reducing the watering. At the end of March, when the plant begins its active growing season, it is again put in a warm place, in its usual place. At the same time, the irrigation rate is gradually increased and fertilizers are periodically applied.

Zygocactus breeding methods

The most common way to reproduce zygocactus is cuttings. Usually this procedure is combined with pruning, using removed parts of the stems for propagation.

Having pinched off a few extreme "leaves" from the shoot, they must be kept in air for at least a day for drying, after having previously processed the cut with crushed coal. Ready cuttings are planted in moist soil, buried by a quarter. Then the pots with them are covered with a transparent container to create a greenhouse effect. After that, they are removed to a shady corner with a temperature not higher than +20 degrees. Periodically, plantings need to be ventilated. Rooting is very easy and fast.

A rarer and more difficult method is seed propagation. They are usually purchased in stores. In natural conditions, the flowers of zygocactus are cross-pollinated by butterflies and hummingbirds. You can try to repeat the process at home, but this will require two different (unrelated) plants, as well as a lot of time and effort. It will be necessary to collect pollen from one flower and pollinate it with another, and it is recommended to do this on the second or third day of flowering. Due to the fact that the collected pollen retains its properties for weeks, you do not need to wait for the simultaneous opening of both flowers. The ripening of the resulting fruit-berry takes up to 8 months. The seeds in it will remain viable for 3-4 years.

Sowing seeds is carried out in the spring. They are lightly pressed against wet soil or sand, without sprinkling them with earth. Seedlings can begin to appear in 3 weeks. For growth, seedlings need a lot of light, it is better to water them through a spray. As soon as the second "leaf" appears on the sprouts, you can split them into separate pots. When transplanting, you need to try to transfer the seedling along with a lump of soil.

Diseases and pests of the Decembrist

Frequent illnesses

The main danger for the plant is fungal diseases. Usually they are triggered by improper flower care or poor soil. A sick Decembrist turns pale, its leaves begin to turn gray and wither even in wet soil. As a treatment, the flower must be treated with appropriate fungicides. After that, it is worth monitoring the state of the soil in the pot, trying to water the flower as it dries.


Low humidity and hot weather can lead to spider mites. They can be recognized by the rusty bloom that appears on the leaves of the plant. It will be difficult to notice the pest itself. The fight against it consists in treating the bush with Fitoverm, Neoron or another similar preparation.

Whitish, cotton-like lumps on the stems are a sign of the appearance of mealybugs. You can get rid of them with the help of Aktara solution.

Possible growing difficulties

Some Schlumberger rearing problems can be caused by care errors.

The bush began to wither

The reason may lie not in the disease, but in the damage to the root system. In this case, the plant becomes unstable and sways easily. The roots of the Decembrist can be harmed by a strong temperature drop: overheating in the scorching sun, cold in the room or watering with ice water. The wrong concentration of fertilizer can also be fatal. If the flower is mistakenly fed with too much minerals, it is urgent to move it to fresh soil. Otherwise, you can lose the plant. A transplant can help with other root problems as well. The flower is taken out of the pot, washed thoroughly under hot water, the roots affected by rot are removed, and the cuts are treated with charcoal and dried. Then the Decembrist is carefully planted in new soil. If there are too many rotten roots, you can try to pinch and re-root the healthy aerial part of the flower.

Falling leaves

If the plant looks healthy, it probably lacks micronutrients. But do not immediately fertilize poor soil. The first few times it is better to feed such a Decembrist in a foliar way, using compositions for epiphytic cacti. After that, you can return to the usual feeding. If the procedure does not help, you can try transplanting into fresh nutrient soil.

If only the extreme leaves-links wither and fly around the plant, it is worth adjusting the conditions of its maintenance.The reason may be low humidity or sudden changes: temperature drops, cold drafts, unsuccessful rearrangement or untimely transplant. The red tint of the leaves may indicate an insufficiently high temperature in the room. Shrinking of the leaves is a common sign of excess or lack of moisture in the soil. In the latter case, it is enough to water the plant so that it quickly regains its former appearance.

Lack of colors

Decembrist bloom begins immediately after a dormant period, which usually occurs in the autumn months (late September - late November). At this time, you can take the Decembrist to a cooler place. If the usual place of the zygocactus is on the windowsill, you do not need to move it. Watering the plant is required a little less often, overflows during this period are especially harmful for it, but it is not worth overdrying the earthen lump. At the end of November, the plant is returned to warmth and the volume of watering is gradually increased. Before the flowers appear, you can turn the bush to the sun in different directions to activate the growth processes, but with the beginning of the formation of buds, this is no longer worth doing. Changing the watering regime or moving the container will become stressful for the plant, and all the buds will fly around.

Sometimes an insufficiently spacious pot or a lack of nutrients can become an obstacle to the flowering of the Decembrist. If the plant lacks light in winter, special lamps can be used.

Types and varieties of the Decembrist with a photo


This variety served as the basis for breeding many others. Its popularity is due to its resistance to external conditions. Buckley (or Buckley) is not capricious and calmly withstands minor cultivation flaws. The size of the bush reaches 50 cm, and the diameter of the flowers is 8 cm. The variety of colors is very large - from white to pink or purple. Shoots have a dark green tint and rather rounded projections.

Buckley's attractiveness is also enhanced by long flowering times. In this variety, it can last from late autumn to March.


This large-flowered Schlumberger variety looks both gentle and effective. Due to the size of the flowers during this period, the stems are literally completely hidden behind them.


The leaves of the truncated Decembrist have pointed teeth and a light green, sometimes reddish color. The flowers have an unusual appearance: they have two tiers with bent petals. The colors can be very different: white, pink, purple, lavender, orange or even mixed. Thanks to the beautiful hanging of the stems, such a Decembrist can also be used as an ampelous one.


Low grade Decembrist with long shoots. Russeliana leaves are flat and free from chipping. The tube of the peduncle is colored green, but the flowers themselves can have different colors: red, pink or purple.

This variety is also highly popular: in addition to its visual appeal, Russeliana is very unpretentious and resistant to temperature extremes.

Golden Cream

The originality of the variety is the color of its flowers. They have a warm yellow-orange hue. In nature, yellow Decembrists do not exist, therefore the existence of this and other varieties of a similar color is the merit of the breeders. The shoots of such a zygocactus generally remain vertical and have serrations.


This type of Decembrist is a bit like a carnation: its flowers have double edges. Aspen inflorescences are usually white or pale pink and are complemented by a pinkish pistil and yellow stamens. During flowering, this variety looks very solemn and elegant.


Thanks to the long and slightly pointed petals, the Gertner flowers slightly resemble a bell. They are usually colored red-orange or pink. Against the background of rich green shoots, such flowers look contrasting and bright. "Leaves" -segments of this species are slightly larger than usual, the stems also differ in length.

Decembrist: description, care and reasons for weak flowering

In books on indoor floriculture, it is sometimes difficult to find information about the Decembrist, a popular indoor plant that blooms in the winter. The fact is that in different editions different names are included in the table of contents: Schlumbergera, Christmas cactus, Epiphyllum and Zygocactus. You can find a rare folk name - Christmas tree.

Decembrist (this is a well-known folk name) belongs to the Cactus family. As a rule, we grow hybrid forms of this perennial forest cactus, which, at first glance, differ in the color of the flowers, the timing of flowering and the shape of the branches-segments. Other differences are less significant for the amateur grower.

Botanical description

The Decembrist cactus is special, it has no thorns. Photo: Chris Brenschmidt / Flickr

The Decembrist cactus is special - a forest cactus that does not have thorns, growing on the trunks and aerial roots of trees in the tropics. In fact, this is a woody cactus that does not need soil in its natural, natural environment, therefore, the Decembrist has a weak, poorly developed root system and a well-developed network of aerial roots. Aerial roots trap moisture from the surrounding air and saturate the plant when soil moisture is insufficient.

Decembrist bushes grow up to 40 cm in height. The stems of Schlumberger's zygocactus are branched, drooping, resembling green leaves connected by a chain. Thanks to drooping stems, the Decembrist looks good in hanging pots, if grown as an ampelous plant.

Decembrist flowers are formed on the top shoots of the stems. The flowers are multi-tiered, resembling tubes with stamens. In nature, the Decembrist flowers are white or red, but thanks to the efforts of breeders, purple, pink, and yellow Decembrists have been bred.


The plant has a poorly developed root system of the fibrous type. This is a consequence of the fact that under natural conditions Schlumberger grows like an epiphyte, using the branches, trunks and roots of trees as a support. About the correct transplant of the Decembrist.


A Christmas tree is a cactus and grows in shoots, it actually has no leaves. What growers call "leaves" are essentially stems.

They are long and relatively narrow. In shape, they are similar to several fused joints or to a double-edged saw blade (due to the characteristic "notches"). They are fleshy to the touch. The joint is clearly felt.

A feature of the stems of this cactus is that when pruned, they bifurcate. And since the flowers grow on the tips of the stems, you can achieve very lush flowering even from one plant.


Decembrist flowers are single. They grow at the ends of leaf stems. Outwardly, they look like an elongated tube, which is formed by petals.

In general, the Decembrist is known for its red flowers. But modern breeding has received white, coral and orange shades.

Flowering of the Decembrist continues until the end of winter. One flower lasts about 3 days.

More information about the flowering of the Christmas cactus in our article “The Decembrist does not bloom? We will tell you the reasons and what to do. "


For fruiting, the Decembrist needs pollination. In an apartment, this can be achieved only by independently pollinating the flowers. The fruit of the plant is a pear-shaped purple berry. Seeds ripen inside it.

How to replant after purchase

After purchase, the flower must be transplanted, completely getting rid of the peat. To do this, it is necessary to carry out the necessary steps:

  • Remove the flower from the transport pot:
  • Remove peat completely
  • If it does not detach, it can be removed with a toothbrush by gently combing the roots in the direction from the root collar to the ends of the roots.
  • After that, the flower is examined for the presence of pests and is planted in a new specialized soil.

How to propagate a Decembrist at home

Reproduced by Schlumberger by grafting. Several extreme segments of the shoot are unscrewed and left to dry for several days. To obtain new healthy plants, it is important to know how to properly plant the Decembrist process. Dried links are planted in pre-moistened soil and covered with a jar or film to create a greenhouse effect. The shoots take root in a shady place at temperatures from + 16 ° C to + 20 ° C.

Scions root best in the shade

It is convenient to propagate the flower after pruning it during the formation of the bush.


The bush is formed by unscrewing unnecessary and diseased links before the buds appear. At this time, many healthy segments appear for reproduction.

Diseases and pests

The diseases of the Decembrist and the fight against them depend solely on the conditions of detention. It is the violation of the optimal growing conditions that leads to the appearance of diseases.

The Decembrist can be affected by fungal diseases such as fusarium, late blight and rot of cladonium. Modern fungicidal preparations perfectly cope with the pathogenic influence of fungi.

Decembrists are most susceptible to the development of a fungal infection during a period of intense rise in humidity. Experienced flower growers recommend adding a small dose of copper-containing or other fungicidal preparations to the spray water once a week. As a preventive measure, such an event is very effective. Sometimes when buying a plant in specialized stores, we can see dried blue spots on the leaves, this is nothing more than the remains of a copper preparation.

Sometimes Schlumberger is affected by wet rot, a bacterial disease. Excessive moistening of the earthen coma leads to its spread. Reducing watering, drying the soil allows you to prevent further spread of infection.

Decembrist is almost not affected by insect pests. A spider mite can sometimes afford to host in the dry period of keeping, but as soon as spraying begins, it leaves the plant forever.

The Decembrist, like any other plant, requires attention. This plant cannot do without our participation. Creation of optimal conditions for growth and flowering, the necessary parameters for keeping zygocactus in an apartment. It is enough to take care of the plant in a timely manner, rearrange, water, sprinkle, feed, and it will thank you for the care with an abundance of flowers.

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