This genus of epiphytic, succulent cacti originates in south-eastern Brazil and are named after Frederic Schlumberger, a French collector of cacti in the 19th century. There are many hybrid forms of Schlumbergera - commonly know as zygocactus (ht 30-40 cm). Many are cultivars of Schlumbergera truncata. The unusual silky flowers usually appear in late autumn and winter (hence they are called Christmas cacti in the northern hemisphere) and are held at the stem tips, coming in colours of pinks, purples, magenta, white, orange, yellow and red. Some develop a cascading habit with age.
They seem to look best when grown in pots under trees or in a dry rockery situation, and need protection from frost in a part-shade position; however, they can be grown in the ground in a well-drained spot. They can also provide a bright splash of colour on an outdoor table or in a hanging basket in a filtered or morning sun position in the cooler months, or even grown inside in a brightly lit spot. They should not be overwatered. They seem to enjoy being pot bound and can last well for years in the same pot. Give them a small amount of fertiliser in spring. Being epiphytic, they can also be affixed to trees, in a pouch of loose compost held in a length of old pantyhose, or grown in rock crevices. Schlumbergera are easily propagated from stem cuttings in spring and summer. Removing a few leaves each year after flowering helps maintain a good shape.