Aztekium, Aztekium hintonii, Aztekium cactus,

How To Care for Aztekium Cactus

Hi Guys 😀 

In this Blog I share my tips and tricks on How to care for the Aztekium Cactus.

Aztekium, Aztekium hintonii, Aztekium cactus,
My 23 year old Aztekium hintonii grown from seed ( not by me ) 

I have made a video on my You Tube Channel called Desert Plants Of Avalon on How To Care for Aztekium, and you can watch this video HERE:


There are just three species of Aztekium, 1, Aztekium ritteri, 2, Aztekium hintonii, and 3, Aztekium valdezii.

Aztekium valdezii has only recently been discovered from 2011.

The Aztekium Cactus grows in its natural habitat in Mexico growing on steep cliff faces that consist of mostly gypsum and some limestone gravel.

Aztekium is extremely slow growing and forms into little clumps over many years, it is one of the slowest growing cacti both in natural habitat and in cultivation. 

I have grown my Aztekium hintonii for over 23 years, I got it as a young seedling that was grown from seed from a Cactus Grower in the U.K called David Quail, it was the just size of my thumbnail and in all of that time it has grown only about 2 inches in height and width.

Because of their extremely slow growth and difficulty to grow when young on their own roots, these cacti are often seen for sale grafted onto other more hardier cactus stock, but once established on their on roots they can survive long term as long as a very careful watering is maintained and a very gritty well draining soil is used.

Aztekium, Aztekium hintonii, Aztekium cactus,
My 23 year old Aztekium hintonii



Aztekium like most cacti need bright light with some sunshine to grow healthy, however these cacti prefer to be protected from very strong midday sunshine and prefer more shade than a lot of the other types of Desert Cacti, and Aztekium would be best positioned where they can get either early morning or very late afternoon sunshine.


Aztekium prefer soft water that is not alkaline and clean rainwater is best to water these cacti with. Its best to avoid watering these cacti with water than has a pH higher than PH 7, as hard alkaline water can cause damage to the roots. If you use tap water check that the PH is not higher than PH 7 and allow the water to sit for 24 hours to allow the chlorine and other gases to dissipate.

If you are growing Aztekium that have been grafted, then the pH of the water is not as much a concern as most cactus stock used for grafting Aztekium are mostly Trichocereus or Pereskioposis, and these cacti are not so sensitive to water PH, however careful watering should still be given with all Aztekium cacti.

Water Aztekium from Spring through Summer ALWAYS allowing the soil in their pots to fully dry out before watering again.

Keep Aztekium totally dry throughout the Winter rest period with no water from Fall / Autumn and Winter, introduce water again from Spring when their active growing period returns.


The soil used for Aztekium must be extremely well draining, this is very important especially for Aztekium cacti that are growing on their own roots, especially when they are young as they can be very prone to rot, which is why they are often seen grafted.  If grafted onto hardier root stock such as Pereskioposis and Trichocereus they are far less prone to rot and grow faster, but as with all cacti except the epiphytes, the more well draining the soil the better.

Some growers of Aztekium like to add lie to the soil, but I have had success over 23 years of growing this cactus with my well draining soil mix that I use for most of my arid loving cacti.

Avoid using peat and houseplant soils for these cacti as they need a VERY well draining and gritty soil.

I like to use a soil mix of 3 equal parts of loam, horticultural sand and grit for my Aztekium hintonii, For more information on How I make my own Cactus soil click HERE:


Feed Aztekium once a month in Spring until mid Summer with a good quality cactus fertiliser. Because these cacti are extremely slow growing its best to use the fertiliser at half the strength they recommend for normal cacti.


The flowers on Aztekium are very tiny and white or pink or lilac coloured, they grow from the top of the cactus when the plant is mature often after many years. 

Aztekium forms a woolly tuft and fine spines from the crown of the cactus when the plant is mature enough to flower.

I have not had my Aztekium flower for me in 23 years, but I hope one day to see flowers, patience is definitely the key when growing cacti haha, but I have heard of many growers who have had their Aztekiums flower after 10 years or less.

Grafted Aztekiums will flower much sooner than if grown on their own roots.


In Spring and Summer Aztekium can take high temperatures but they must be protected from extreme heat and strong midday sunshine, especially if they are grown behind glass in glasshouses or windowsills, and they like to have plenty of ventilation.

In Winter its best to overwinter Aztekium cool and dry above 5 Celsius / 41 Fahrenheit


Propagation of Aztekium is done by seed that are very dust like, but it is extremely difficult and slow to grow from seeds, although germination rate can be high at first lots of seedlings will often die within the first few months of germination. 

I have never tried to grow these from seed myself but when my Aztekium flowers for e in the future and I get seed I will definitely have a go at trying to grow this amazing and unique little cactus from seed.

If you want to grow Aztkium from seed or any other type of cactus from seed read my page on this website Growing Cactus from seed  by clicking HERE

Here is a video I have made for my You Tube Channel called Desert Plants Of Avalon on How To Care For Aztekium Cacti and you can watch this video below:


Thanks so much for reading Guys and Happy Growing to you all <3 



pollinating christmas cactus flowers, pollinating Christmas cactus

How to pollinate Christmas Cactus flowers to get Fruit for Seed

Hi Guys 😀 

Its always so much fun to grow seeds from your very own plants, and at this time of year during the Winter months your Schlumbergera cacti that are more commonly known as the Holiday Cacti, Christmas or Thanksgiving Cactus may be all blooming lovely.

When your Schlumbergera cacti are all blooming lovely this is the perfect time to have fun pollinating the flowers to see if you can get seeds. Pollinating the flowers is very easy to do and in this Blog I include a few videos that I have made for my Cacti & Succulent You Tube channel called Desert Plants of Avalon where I show you on video exactly how you can pollinate the flowers for seed.

pollinating christmas cactus flowers, pollinating Christmas cactus
Its so much fun to play the Bee and pollinate your Christmas cactus flowers to see if you can get fruit and seed.

All you need is a Schlumbergera cactus that is in flower, preferably with at least two flowers on as from my own experience I have always find it more successful to cross pollinate the flowers on either the same plant or if you have two different flowering Schlumbergera at the same time, for example a red flowering one and a pink flowering one you can cross the flowers between both of them. 

Christmas cactus, Schlumbergera truncata, red flowering Christmas cactus, Christmas cactus red flowers, Xmas cactus,

I have had great success pollinating Schlumbergera flowers and have had seed on most occasions when I have pollinated the flowers, however I have found that a lot of my more recent Schlumbergera purchases have failed to produce fruit and seeds for me. I have heard that some of the newer hybrids on the markets today are harder to pollinate for seed but I don’t have enough evidence for that just yet. Let me know if you guys have had success with pollinating the flowers on the newer Schlumbergera hybrids available today 😀 

So How do pollinate the flowers for seed ? 

All you need to do is use a clean tiny brush for example a tiny paint brush, lip brush or a q tip cotton bud, and load the pollen from the flower and then dab the pollen from the flower onto the stigma of the flower, this is best if you only have the one flower but if you have more than one flower its best to take the pollen from the the one flower and dab it very gently onto the stigma of the other flower or flowers. 

The Stigma is the part of the flower that hangs out almost like a tongue haha, and here is a photo of one of my Schlumbergera’s my Schlumbergera ‘Golden Charm’ in flower with the stigma that is bright pink sticking out. this should hopefully show you what the stigma looks like 😀 

Christmas cactus, Xmas cactus, Schlumbergera truncata, yellow Schlumbergera truncata, golden Christmas cactus, Schlumbergera flowers,

Here is a step by step video that I have made for my Cacti & Succulent You Tube Channel called Desert Plants of Avalon on How to pollinate Schlumbergera Christmas and Thanksgiving Cactus flowers :

If you want to cross pollinate two different flowering Schlumbergera cacti for example a white one crossed with a red or pink or orange then you simply dab the pollen from the one flower/s from the one Cactus onto the other stigma on the other Cactus flower.

Here is a video below that I have made for my You Tube channel called Desert Plants of Avalon on How to Cross pollinate Schlumbergera cactus flowers :  

How do you know when your pollination has been a success ? 

Within a few days the flowers will naturally start to wilt if they have not been pollinated and the flowers will dry up and fall off, but if its been a success then the very base of where the flower emerges from the end of the leaf segment will start to swell up and turn a darker green colour ( see photo below ) 

It can take many weeks, months and even as long as a year for the fruit to be fully ready for harvesting, and you will know when the fruits are ready to harvest for seeds because the fruit pod will go very soft and often a dark red colour just like a juicy small berry. 

Here is a video that I have made for my Cacti & Succulent You Tube channel called Desert Plants of Avalon on How to tell when your Schlumbergera flowers have been pollinated :

Here is a video that I have made for my Cacti & Succulent You Tube channel called Desert Plants of Avalon on How to Harvest the fruit from Schlumbergera to get seeds:

Once you have harvest the seeds then its time to sow them, this is the fun part and although very time consuming to grow these plants from seeds compared to cuttings its so much fun and very rewarding to do 😀 

There are many different methods on growing cacti from seed, but personally I like to grow my seeds in pots that are then placed into ‘baggies’ this keeps the seeds and young seedlings moist at all times without having to worry about the soil drying up. After about 3-6 months depending on their size I then remove them from the clear bags and treat them as young seedlings always making sure the soil is moist but not soggy.

Spring is always the best time to sow seeds including all cacti seeds, but if you have grow lights and additional warmth then you can get sowing them at any time of the year.

Here is a video that I have made for my Cacti & Succulent You Tube Channel called Desert Plants of Avalon on How to Grow Cacti from Seed and this includes all types of cactus plants including Schlumbergera : 

Good luck with pollinating your Schlumbergera cactus flowers and let me know in the comments below if you have had success with pollinating the flowers and growing these beautiful cacti from seed. 

Here is a video below that I have made for my Cacti & Succulent You Tube Channel called Desert Plants of Avalon on the update on my Schlumbergera Christmas Cactus seedlings that I have grown from seed in June 2018.

Sending you all lots of love and plant power from across the Emerald Isle and Happy Sowing and Growing Guys 😀 




Christmas cactus, Schlumbergera truncata, red flowering Christmas cactus, Christmas cactus red flowers, Xmas cactus,

How to care for Christmas Cactus and Thanksgiving Cactus – Schlumbergera

Hi Guys 😀 

In this Blog I will be sharing my tips and tricks and also sharing lots of links to videos I have made for my You Tube channel called Desert Plants of Avalon on ‘How you can care for and Grow your Schlumbergera cacti also known as ‘Christmas and Thanksgiving cacti’.

Christmas cactus, Schlumbergera truncata, red flowering Christmas cactus, Christmas cactus red flowers, Xmas cactus,

Its that time of year again and Christmas is very near upon us, and if you live in the Northern hemisphere like I do then at this moment its the cold short and dark days of Winter.

The good news is though its the short and dark days that encourage our Schlumbergera cacti more commonly known as the Christmas and thanksgiving cacti to bloom in the most beautiful and magnificent of flowers and in many colours, and with the many hybrids that are commonly available now you can guarantee a blooming lovely time with these Epiphytic Rainforest cactus plants.


What are Christmas and Thanksgiving Cacti ? 

Christmas and Thanksgiving cacti belong to the cactus family Schlumbergera. In their natural habitats these cacti grow in the tropical Rainforests and are epiphytic cacti that grow hanging off trees for support. In the tropical Rainforests these cacti receive a lot more shade and moisture than their desert loving cousins.

There are two different main types of Schlumbergera: Schlumbergera truncata and Schlumbergera buckleyi. The Schlumbergera truncata is the one commonly known as the Thanksgiving Cactus and the Schlumbergera buckleyi is the one commonly known as the true Christmas Cactus.

So how do you know if the one/s you have are the true Christmas Cactus or the Thanksgiving cactus ? especially as most Schlumbergera cacti that are sold in the shops are all just labelled as Christmas Cactus, the difference is in the shape of the leaf segments as well as their flowers and also their flowering times. 

The care for both of these Schlumbergera is exactly the same 😀 

To find out which Schlumbergera that you have here is a link to my Blog I have made on this website on How to tell the difference between Christmas and Easter and Thanksgiving cactus . 


Christmas cactus, Schlumbergera truncata, red flowering Christmas cactus, Christmas cactus red flowers, Xmas cactus,

Light Conditions:

Schlumbergera like bright but indirect sunshine and prefer to be placed in a semi shade position away from direct sunshine. If placed in full sunshine these plants can suffer from stress and their stem segments will turn pink or go yellow if receiving too much sunshine, remember these plants naturally grow in Rainforests and therefore prefer more shade than the desert types of cacti do, a bright position where they will be able to receive plenty of natural daylight and indirect sunshine suits these cacti best. 

If only a South facing position is available then cover the window/s with a shade cloth or net curtain so your Schlumbergera cactus receives indirect sunshine.

Schlumbergera can be placed outdoors during the Spring and Summer months where they can get plenty of fresh air, but make sure they are placed in a shady spot and away from direct sunshine, strong winds and heavy rains.

From late Summer if your Schlumbergera is growing in the house in a room where artificial lighting is on this may discourage buds from forming on your Schlumbergera, its best to provide the natural daylight of the days from late Summer onwards when buds are forming. If you have your Schlumbergera growing in a room with artificial lights on in the evening then its important from early September that you move your Schlumbergera into a spare room that has no artificial light on so the days and night are natural to the Schlumbergera, this is important because its the shorter day length and the drop in nighttime temperatures that encourage buds to form on your Schlumbergera.


Christmas cactus, Xmas cactus, Schlumbergera truncata, yellow Schlumbergera truncata, golden Christmas cactus, Schlumbergera flowers,
Its important that you grow your Schlumbergera in a room that does not receive artificial light of an evening as this may prevent buds from forming.

Watering : 

Water Schlumbergera only when the soil is dry, its important to allow the soil in the pot to dry out in between waterings to avoid root rot as these plants like to be well drained. Rainwater is always preferable to tap water if it can be provided, otherwise tap water left to stand overnight to allow chlorine and other gasses to dissipate is best.

Humidity : 

Schlumbergera like more humidity than their desert loving cousins and although they can take drier conditions, they tend to drop their leaf segments if they are in too dry an atmosphere as well as their buds, its best to keep these plants regularly misted with rainwater and away from radiators and other air conditioning or heating.


SUMMER: In Summer Schlumbergera prefer temperatures no higher than 80 Fahrenheit  / 26 Celsius but they can take higher if they are given plenty of fresh air ventilation and away from direct sunshine and kept well watered during the warm Summer months. 

WINTER: In Winter they prefer to be kept at a minimum temperature of 50 Fahrenheit / 10 Celsius, as lower than this they can suffer from leaf segment drop and also be prone to cold damage with brown scabs and scarring on their leaf segments. They can take lower temperatures than this if they are kept more on the drier side, and in my Polytunnel I have to keep them cooler at a minimum temperature of around 45 Fahrenheit /7 Celsius due to the high electric bill I would otherwise have haha, and I find that as long as I keep them more on the dry side but still watered lightly once a month they still do really well and flower amazing for me. However it is essential that you do not keep Schlumbergera any lower than 40 Fahrenheit / 5 Celsius for any long period of time as these plants can rot and scar badly and even die from fungal attacks if they are kept lower than these temperatures.

It is absolutely essential that these cacti are also never exposed to freezing temperatures at any time.

If growing these cacti on a windowsill its important to keep them away from a radiator directly below the windowsill as the central heating will dry out the stem segments, these Cacti like more humidity that the desert cacti do.

If the only position you can give them is on a window with a radiator below then its important you place your Schlumbergera on a large tray that is filled with gravel that is kept moist at all times.

From late Summer it is important that you allow the night time temperatures to drop in comparison to the daytime temperatures as the drop in temperature as well as the shorter day length encourages these cacti to form buds. 


Feed Schlumbergera with a good quality liquid houseplant fertiliser from Spring until mid Summer with every 4th watering you give them. Stop fertilising from late Summer when the buds are starting to form.


Its important that a well draining soil mix is used with Schlumbergera as they like grow naturally hanging from trees where they would have lots of aeration. Schlumbergera prefer a compost that is well draining, but not as sandy as desert cacti as Schlumbergera like to be kept much more moist, so ideally a normal good quality houseplant soil with added peat and perlite or a good quality cactus soil with added peat and perlite would be ideal, or you could also use an Orchid soil too. Personally with my Schlumbergera’s I like to use a soil mix of 50% John innes number 2 which is a loam based compost ( but any good quality loam based compost would work the same) with 30% perlite and 20% peat and I find that my Schlumbergera grow happy in this soil mix. 


Repotting is best done every two years, but always go for a pot just a big larger than the last one as these plants flower better if slightly under rather than over potted, this is because planting these Cacti into a much larger pot will encourage them to form lots of new vegetative growth but may not flower for a couple of years as their energy will be going towards forming lots of new roots and top growth. 

The best time to re pot Schlumbergera is when they are starting to come back into new growth after their flowering Winter rest and is best done in Spring or early Summer. 

Avoid re potting Schlumbegera from September as this is the time of year they will be starting to form buds, re potting at this time of year can discourage blooming as after repotting their energy will be going to the root system instead of the buds.

Here is a video I have made for my You Tube Channel called Desert Plants of Avalon on How to Re pot A Christmas Cactus. 



Propagating Schlumbergra from seed is a time consuming process but if they are seeds from your own plants this can be fun to do, Schlumbergera can be easily pollinated by cross pollinating two blooms on either the same plant or on two different plants, personally I have much more success when I cross pollinate flowers from two different Schlumbergera’s often with different flower colours. If you want to know how you can pollinate the flowers on your Schlumbergera please check out the video below I have made for my You Tube Channel called Desert Plants of Avalon.

Here is my video on my You Tube Channel called Desert Plants of Avalon on How to Grow Schlumbergera from Seed and also Rhipsalidopsis Easter Cactus from Seed:


Propagating Schlumbergera from stem segment cuttings is so fun and easy to do and is always best from spring until mid Summer when the plants are not resting or flowering. Simply gently cut a cutting off a leaf segment join with at 2-3 leaf segments attached and allow the cut segment/s to dry at the end for at least 2-3 days to allow the cut end to form a white skin at the end called a ‘callus’and then pot up the stem segment cuttings into soil and treat as a cutting by lightly misting the top surface of the soil to encourage rooting, ( see my video below) You can also place the leaf segment cuttings in water to root, ( see my video below) Check out these two videos I have made for my You Tube Channel called Desert Plants of Avalon on How to propagate Schlumbergera, both with the soil method and also the water method 😀 


To encourage blooming with Schlumbergera its important from early September to keep the night time temperatures cooler than the day time temperatures to encourage the buds to form. 

Schlumbergera also prefer to be slightly root bound rather than over potted as this also encourages buds to form.

If growing indoors its important to keep these Cacti away from artificial light sources as this can prevent your cactus from forming buds as it is the shorter length in days as well as the drop in night time temperatures that encourages these cacti to form buds, its best to place in an cool unheated room close to a window that has natural daylight but away from direct sun.

Here is a video I have made for my You Tube Channel called Desert Plants of Avalon on 10 Reasons why your Christmas Cactus is not Flowering:


This is a very common problem especially with Schlumbergera Cacti. Its so common for people to buy a Schlumbergera full of buds from a garden shop only to find the buds all drop off a few days later.

The main cause of bud drop in a newly purchased Schlumbergera is a shock to the plant after being grown in  a commercial nursery often in another country and almost certainly grown under artificial lights and heat for fast selling to the public and then the plant is moved to a shop for selling and then moved again to your house, the shock of the move/s can cause your Schlumbergera to abort the buds.

Be careful when bringing your newly purchased Schlumbergera home from the garden shop as the dramatic difference in temperatures from a warm centrally heated garden shop to the fresh cold air outside can shock the plant in the middle of Winter. When buying any tropical plant in Winter its best to wrap some fleece loosely around the plant/s before leaving the garden shop to walk to your car, or public transport. 

Bud drop in Schlumbergra can also be caused from over or underwatering, too hot or too cold a room, or moving the plant suddenly from a bright position to a dark position or vice verse. Keeping your Schlumbergera behind a cold curtain over a window of a night as well as cold draughts can also cause bud drop. Pests like Mealy bugs, and Aphids also like to hide in between flower buds and eat the buds juices causing the buds to fall off prematurely.  

After Flowering:

After flowering its normal for your Schlumbergera to look a bit sad and the leaf segments to go limp and lifeless and even a bit shrivelled, please do not panic, this is normal as your Shlumbergera has been sending all of its energy towards making buds and now it want to rest. Allow your Schlumbergera to rest and withhold watering for a month after the flowers have finished to allow the plant to rest and relax ready for its forthcoming new Spring growth. If you can place the plant in a cool room to rest ( below 18 Celsius / 65  Fahrenheit but above 50 Fahrenheit /10 Celsius ) this would be ideal If your plant shows signs of shrivelling or it is in a centrally heated room then still continue to mist the stem segments regularly but only water the soil the month after flowering if your Schlumbergera is shrivelling, otherwise leave the soil dry, and then continue as normal the following month after flowering.  

Here is a video I have made for my You Tube Channel called Desert Plants of Avalon : On why Your Christmas Cactus goes limp after flowering : 


There is no need to prune a Schlumbergera unless the Stem segments get damaged or start to look unsightly or if you want to keep your plant looking more compact in shape or you do not want to have the stem segments hanging too long. 

To prune all you need to do is use clean sharp pruning shears and cut away at the parts where the stem segments join. If the stem segments are healthy then you can give them away to your friends, family and neighbours as gifts for them to propagate.

Pests and Diseases :

Thankfully Schlumbergera are hardy cacti and don’t tend to get the common pests that other houseplants seem to get such as greenfly and thrips, however Schlumbergera can be prone to Mealybug and also scale insect, both of these pests tend to hide on the underside and in between the leaf segments on these plants making them hard to spot until damage has been done. 

The best and most natural and safe way for dealing with both Mealy bug and also Scale insect is to use Isopropyl alcohol ( rubbing alcohol) and dab the pests with this using a small soft brush. I have made a few videos about this on my You Tube channel called Desert Plants of Avalon and below is a video where I show you How to remove Mealy bug from cacti using Isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol ) In the video I use a Hylocereus ( Dragonfruit Cactus ) as an example but exactly the same method can be used for Schlumbergera.

As a very good preventative as well as a long term treatment I like to use Horticultural Neem Oil mixed with Horticultural soap to use as soil drench and as a foliage drench to prevent pests on all my Cacti and Succulents. Here is a video I have made for my You Tube channel called Desert Plants of Avalon on How to use Neem oil as a preventative and treatment for pests on cacti and succulents, it is also a very good natural fungicide too.

Schlumbergera are not prone to many diseases if grown correctly, but the most likely problem with disease is fungus or stem rot and this is nearly always caused from overwatering, or too cold and damp conditions or quite often a combination of all three.

Remember: Grow these Cacti above the minimum Winter temperature of 45 Fahrenheit 7 Celsius. Give plenty of fresh air and regular watering in Spring and Summer but allow the soil to dry out in the pot before watering again. Give them a dry rest period after flowering for a month. Keep them in a bright well lit position or window but away from direct sunshine. Avoid keeping on a windowsill directly above a radiator with central heating as Schlumbergera like more humidity than the desert cacti do. Fertilise regularly from Spring to mid Summer. Tell your Schlumbergera you LOVE them and you should have a blooming lovely Christmas every year 😀