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Are Christmas Cactus Plants Poisonous to Cats?

Christmas cacti image by Azot from Fotolia.com

While the ASPCA states that Christmas cactus--Schlumbergera bridgesii—is non-toxic to cats and dogs, pets should not be allowed to eat the stems or flowers. Growers may treat the plant with systemic insecticides. Additionally, the sap can be a feline allergen.

Care For Christmas Cactus Plants

Christmas cactus plants (_Schlumbergera bridgesii)_ are epiphytes that grow naturally in trees in Brazil. They can survive temperatures down to 20 degrees Fahrenheit, but their stems will be severely damaged. You'll want to place the cactus into the soil about a quarter of an inch. Right next to a south-, west- or east-facing window is ideal. Direct sunlight will cause these plants to turn yellow or develop a reddish blush and the stems may droop. Water Christmas cactus plants when the top 1 inch of the potting mix feels dry. Cold, fresh tap water could chill the roots. Give Christmas cactus plants fertilizer every four weeks from late winter when it begins to put on new growth to late summer. Water-soluble fertilizer with a ratio of 20-20-20 or 20-10-20 that contains trace elements is ideal for these cactuses. Also, give the Christmas cactus 1 teaspoon of Epsom salts dissolved in 1 gallon of water every four weeks but not at the same time as the fertilizer. Do not provide fertilizer or Epsom salts after late summer. It will inhibit flowering. Pinch off one segment from each stem in late spring to encourage the Christmas cactus to grow more branches which will result in more flowers. There could be bacteria on your hands that could cause stem rot. T avoid breakage, trim your plant regularly by clipping at joint segments. If a branch on your Christmas cactus does break, just clip it back at the joint to ensure healthy regrowth. As the roots die, they are unable to supply the Christmas cactus with moisture and nutrients. Remove the cactus from its pot and examine the roots. If more than half the roots are dark and mushy or wiry, the plant should be thrown away. Mealybugs and scale insects are the most prevalent pests of Christmas cactus. They are slow-moving or immobile insects that pierce the stem sections and suck plant juices out. Mealybugs are small, flat, oval bugs that are white and mealy looking.

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