Return to the Cacti & Succulents Forum | Post a Follow-Up

Christmas cactus pollination?

Posted by rredbbeard SE CT USA/zone 6 ( on
Wed, Nov 24, 10 at 23:18

I've tried many times to get seed from my plants, without success. I've poked pollen into all the right places--does anyone have any advice/personal success with this?



Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Christmas cactus pollination?

I assume you have cross-pollinated them, i.e. taken pollen from one plant to a different one (another clone)?

RE: Christmas cactus pollination?

yep--cross-pollinated of course.

So, any suggestions on applying the pollen?


RE: Christmas cactus pollination?

Not much, I'm afraid. I have tried it a few times, picked up some pollen with a brush and applied them on the stigma of the second plant. Nothing special, and it did result in fruits.

RE: Christmas cactus pollination?

After what I have gone through this summer, I am reluctant to say anything. That has never bothered me before though, so...

Two plants does not mean you have two clones. You are probably way ahead of me, so don't be offended, but there are folks who don't understand that. I believe a single clone can be selfed, but I cannot do it.

Are the plants in bloom at the same time, or are you trying to store pollen from one, to put on another at a later date? Storing pollen is plenty tricky, and I believe I have been successful once, out of a lot of trying.

Some clones (for whater reason), just do not want to make a pod. I also believe that at least a few plants do not produce good pollen. No idea how many plants you have, but have you tried several combinations?

You might try applying and then reapplying the pollen several times over the flowering period of a particular flower. I don't know how critical the timing is, but it might be worth a shot. I used to think the flower was receptive when the pistle "opened", but I no longer believe that is necessary.

I am uncertain about schlums, but a lot of plants want dry pollen. You are not misting or anything like that? Also, a spent flower is sort of damp and any pollen on it may be no good.

The easiest way is to simply smush two flowers together so they pollinate each other. Don't tell anyone you did that or you can never hold your head up in schlum circles again.
Lucky for me, I am old and don't care.

Good luck,

RE: Christmas cactus pollination?

I have done this...
as soon as the flower opens full
I held one plant next to the other and
touch the flowers together
and I got a pod everytime
I did this last year and I have the pods
still on the plants I don't know what to do next
I don't know when to pick them
or plant them
any help on this, does anyone know????

RE: Christmas cactus pollination?

I don't know that this is the best way, and may not even be a good way, but I wait until the fruit is "soft". If you press the pod gently between thumb and finger, you can tell when it feels ripe or "soft". I do not believe that color is a reliable indicator of the seeds being ripe. The seeds inside are black, and pretty small. I believe most folks "smear" the contents on a paper tower, as evenly as possible, and allow to dry for a few days. Then the seeds can be picked off and planted. Cover lightly with soil. I put them in a container like an old fish aquarium or a plastic tote that will hold humidity. They should not be allowed to dry out, but they do need fresh air. I take the cover off for a little while every day or two.

These two pictures show seed pods with cleaned seeds scattered around. Next is a very poor picture of little Schlums.



I think there are a lot of ways to do these things. This is what I have found works for me. I am open to anything that may produce better results.


RE: Christmas cactus pollination?

thank you John...
I have a few more questions for you
how long would you say it takes for the pods to rippen?
mine have been on the plant for a year now..
and I am guessing you have grow them to a mature plant
how long from sprouting to getting a flower????
I hope you don't mine the questions
thanks so very much for the info...
oh one more question when would be the best time of the year to start the seeds????
thanks again..........linda

RE: Christmas cactus pollination?

It takes about 1 year for them to ripen. Look for the signs that billy_kain mentioned.

RE: Christmas cactus pollination?

Linda - I had hoped no one would call my bluff. After nearly 3 years, I still do not have a bloom on my own seedlings. I think some are big enough to bloom, but so far nothing. This may be the result of poor care (I am still learning), or the cause may be that I experiment with them a lot. I grafted one seedling onto an Opuntia in an attempt to make it grow faster.
tjicken is right about the length of time it takes a pod to ripen.
I start mine indoors and don't believe it matters what time of year you plant the seeds.

I apologize to rredbeard for hijacking this thread. I am so ashamed for trying to come across as a know-it-all. Not ashamed enough to kill myself or anything like that, but now I have to forget billy_kain and come up with a new name. Maybe something with a European sound to it.

Good luck to all with your efforts,
billy der muhle

RE: Christmas cactus pollination?

I think your contributions are quite welcome here.
We all have questions, and we appreciate those willing to offer their experience.
No one will fault you!


RE: Christmas cactus pollination?

Hi John,
and I agree with Josh, anyone that is willing to share their experiences is very welcome...
thank you so much for all you have given..
I am going to try this I have several pods...
I crossed the old fashion christmas cactus with the thanksgiving cactus and visa versa..I have pods all over the place I think I will wait until after christmas and take all the pods off and dry the seeds and mark some trays and see what I get...thanks again John..if you get a chance could you post a picture of your seedlings what they look like now...I'm excited to find someone that has got the pods and gotten the seeds to grow....very interested in any and all info linda

RE: Christmas cactus pollination?

Well, I have several plants still in flower, so I am going to attempt pollination again when I get home. Even a single pod would be cool. Does anyone know for sure if the seed require light to germinate or not?

I have some epi's with huge flowers that open in late Spring...I wonder if they would be compatible with the little Schlums...

Here I am getting way ahead of myself...



RE: Christmas cactus pollination?

Well, true to my word, I ran home and had a CC pollination frenzy--anything that still looked fresh got forcibly introduced to it's neighbor. So, if any flowers refuse to fall, I'll be encouraged! I should know pretty soon.

When my Epi's flower this Spring, watch out!

Billy--my only observation on getting CC's to bloom is to keep them cool in the late Fall, which gets the flower buds going.

Good luck!


RE: Christmas cactus pollination?

My cats will sleep even more luxuriantly tonight knowing I won't have to harvest whiskers for y'all.


I was moving my plants out to the porch yesterday and found 3 seed pods started on one plant--YAY!I'll keep you posted on the progress w/pics.


Update: Christmas cactus pollination?

My efforts last year literally bore fruit: 3 seedpods, which took almost exactly 1 year to fully ripen. If anyone would like a pinch of seeds from my plants, please contact me via my regular email (above) and let me know ASAP.

**Please put the word 'schum' in the subject line so I know it's not spam.**

The parent plants are all RSC (Retina-Searing Cerise!). I am experimenting with self-crossing to see if anything results from this. If nothing happens, I may have an answer, and I really don't need more seed at this point, as each pod seems to have about 50 seeds in it.

ALSO--if anyone can supply some pollen from a larger epi such as a cereus, I would like to try this on the schums, but also on my large epi which starts blooming in March.

Let me know/thanks!


RE: Christmas cactus pollination?

Schlumbergera are generally self-infertile, so you need two different cultivars to make a pod.

RE: Christmas cactus pollination?

I've done lots of experimenting with my Thanksgiving and Christmas cacti, and have never used a cat whisker! I found that they never have selfed, and some of the cultivars that I have will never make a pod with some of the other cultivars, which makes me think that even though they might be a different color they are genetically too close to be fertile with each other. My Limelight has never crossed with my very light pink NOID. My true late Christmas cactus crosses with everything. I have grown up several babies and had them bloom, and they are often surprises like the light pink babies from the red-orange parents. I've decided that every lovely cultivar has either a very lucky or very clever breeder behind it.

 o Post a Follow-Up

Please Note: Only registered members are able to post messages to this forum.

    If you are a member, please log in.

    If you aren't yet a member, join now!

Return to the Cacti & Succulents Forum

Information about Posting

  • You must be logged in to post a message. Once you are logged in, a posting window will appear at the bottom of the messages. If you are not a member, please register for an account.
  • Please review our Rules of Play before posting.
  • Posting is a two-step process. Once you have composed your message, you will be taken to the preview page. You will then have a chance to review your post, make changes and upload photos.
  • After posting your message, you may need to refresh the forum page in order to see it.
  • Before posting copyrighted material, please read about Copyright and Fair Use.
  • We have a strict no-advertising policy!
  • If you would like to practice posting or uploading photos, please visit our Test forum.
  • If you need assistance, please Contact Us and we will be happy to help.

Learn more about in-text links on this page here