20151224.jpgThere is a beautiful legend about the origins of the Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera russelliana). The story is said to be from Brazil, the Christmas cactus’ native land.

A young boy who lived in the jungle had prayed God to give him a little sign of Christmas in his hot and humid world. As Christmas approached, he prayed even more, but still nothing. On Christmas day, thought, he stepped out of his hut to realize that the jungle had filled with flowers overnight: cacti growing on the branches of the surrounding trees had all started to bloom at the same time. Moreover, with their weeping habit, they looked just like Christmas bells. And so another Christmas legend was born!

As charming as the legend may be, of course, it isn’t very likely. You see, Christmas cacti bloom when days are short and Brazil lies in the southern hemisphere, where the days are long at Christmas. Indeed, the Christmas cactus does light up Brazil’s coastal jungle when it blooms, but in May, not December. That’s why Brazlians commonly call our Christmas cactus flor de maio (May flower)!

Merry Christmas one and all!

Larry Hodgson is one of Canada’s best-known garden communicators. He has notably been editor-in-chief of HousePlant Magazine, Fleurs, Plantes et Jardins, À Fleur de Pot and Houseplant Forum magazines and is currently the garden correspondent for Le Soleil and radio garden commentator for CKIA-FM Radio. He has written for many garden publications in both the United States and Canada, including Canadian Gardening, Harrowsmith, Horticulture, Fine Gardening and Organic Gardening. He also speaks frequently to horticultural groups throughout Canada and the U.S. His book credits include The Garden Lover’s Guide to Canada, Complete Guide to Houseplants, Making the Most of Shade, Perennials for Every Purpose, Annuals for Every Purpose, and Houseplants for Dummies, as well as nearly 60 other titles in English and French. He is a past president of the Garden Writers Association (now Garden Communicators International) and the winner of the prestigious 2006 Garden Media Promoter Award offered by the Perennial Plant Association. He resides in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.

1 comment on “How the Christmas Cactus Came to Be

  1. Pingback: Crăciunița cactus, cum o îngrijești să îți facă flori frumoase

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