In this brief guide, we will answer the question, can you eat Christmas cactus? We will discuss if you can eat Christmas cactus and some things to be careful of if you decide to eat it.
Can you eat Christmas cactus?
You can eat Christmas cactus but it is best advised not to do so. Even though the Christmas cactus is not listed as an edible plant, it is not considered poisonous either.
You must not eat Christmas cactus or any other plant that you bought from the store. While homegrown plants are cared for and nourished by you, plants bought from a store might have harsh chemicals such as pesticides and fertilizers that can harm your health.
The Christmas cacti are pollinated by wild birds who eat the fruit of the plant and scatter them. Deer, jackrabbits, deers, iguanas, tortoises, and beetles are also known to eat Christmas cacti.
The Christmas cacti are not poisonous to cats, dogs, or infants either. However, it can cause sensitivity and allergies in some cases.
What part of Christmas cactus can you eat?
The taste of Christmas cactus blooms reminds some people of dragon fruit and others of passion fruit. The flavor and taste of Christmas cacti can vary depending on the cultivar and the harvest.
Christmas cactus blooms are cooked before they are eaten. People prefer to eat unopened flower buds, as they are softer and can be eaten readily. The tuna of the nopal cacti are harvested before the blooms open, and before the berry becomes too tough.
However, some varieties of cactus, taste and cook well after they have completely ripened.
Christmas cactus blooms are safe for humans as well as for cats and dogs. However, it is never a good idea to feed any plants to your pets including the Christmas cactus. The Christmas cactus can make your pet sick, causing it to have diarrhea and vomiting.
You can eat Christmas cactus blooms but do not eat stems or the green segments. The cactus plant is not meant to be eaten even if it does not harm your health.
What are Christmas cacti?
The Christmas cactus is known as Epiphyllum. The Christmas cactus needs lots of water and shade. Christmas cacti are used as decor; they stand out during Christmas time among other adornments.
The life of Christmas cacti can be anywhere between 20 to 30 years. Christmas cactus blossoms around the Christmas holidays.
The trimmings of a Christmas cactus can be repotted to grow another cactus. Repotting requires that you use light soil.
How to care for your Christmas cactus?
- Provide water and sunlight
Remember to frequently water the plant. Do not let the Christmas cactus dry out. The Christmas cactus needs to be watered every 2-3 weeks and the soil feels dry.
During summers keep your Christmas cactus in a shady spot, where the sun rays will not be in direct contact with your plant. The Christmas cactus needs moderate sunlight.
- Add Fertilizer
Fertilize the Christmas plant at least once a month. The soil where your Christmas cactus grows must be rich in humus, potassium, and phosphates. Provide the plant with a high-potassium fertilizer every two weeks.
3. Monitor the temperature
The Christmas cactus is sensitive to temperature and the environment. During the nighttime or the dark period, you need to protect your plant from artificial light. Cover your Christmas cactus during the dark period.
Ensure that the temperature of the environment remains between 55 to 68 Fahrenheit. A temperature above 68 Fahrenheit will hinder the flowering process.
4. Monitor the health of your plant
Christmas cactus is also susceptible to stem and root rot. The rot can be identified by brown water-soaked parts of the plant that appear to be distinctively brown. The rot is caused by overwatering the plant.
As fall nears, the flowers of the Christmas cactus shed after six to 8 weeks. However, the Christmas cactus can be replanted and then grown again. To replant it, you need to first let the Christmas plant become dormant. The dormancy cycle starts as you cut off the source of moisture and light from the plant.
Can you eat other types of cactus?
Most varieties of cacti are safe to eat. However, some may need to be cooked before they are eaten. The taste of different species of cacti varies from sweet to bitter.
Among edible cacti, the Christmas cactus is not on the list. The cacti species that are often eaten as meals and make part of many cuisines such as Mexican and Latin American are the prickly pear cactus, barrel cactus, Agave, Cholla cactus, Peruvian apple, dragon fruit cactus, and organ pipe cactus.