Whether you know it as a Thanksgiving, Easter, Holiday, or Christmas cactus, the gorgeous blooms on this plant are always welcomed around the holidays. I’ve seen one of these beautiful succulents still flourishing after 20 years of magnificent blooms. If you’ve recently acquired one of these plants, then the 5 tips on growing a Christmas cactus I’ve provided below should come in handy.
An east or north-facing window is perfect for a Christmas cactus. They need lots of light in order to produce tons of blooms for the holidays. Direct light can cause the leaves to turn a lighter shade of green, but diffusing the sunlight with a thin curtain is all that is needed to protect the plant from the sun’s intensity.
Even though this plant is referred to as a cactus, it doesn’t have all the qualities of a desert plant. Lengthy droughts will kill it, as will too much water. The soil should be kept moist during the warmer parts of the year. It will need a lot less water once the cooler months arrive, but it still shouldn’t be allowed to completely dry out.
Houseplant fertilizer that is water-soluble is perfect for a Christmas cactus. They just need a little bit once a month during the spring and summer. If you purchased your plant at a store, then the potting soil it is in should have plenty of nutrients as well. Cut back on the fertilizer once autumn arrives.
The Christmas cactus is very similar to the poinsettia, in the sense that its ability to bloom depends on temperature and light. During the fall, nighttime temps cannot reach below 55 degrees Fahrenheit and a maximum temp of 65 is recommended. For blooms around Christmas time, the plant should have around 14 hours of darkness and 10 of bright, indirect light.
Wait until your plant has finished blooming for the season before pruning. This process is done by hand. Break off one or two of the sections at the end of a few branches and this will cause the branch to send off two new shoots in different directions. The extra branches will each have blooms on them the following year.
I have friends who’ve admired my Christmas cactus and asked for a starter. This is easily done, since any branch that falls off of this plant can be stuck into the dirt to begin a new plant. They are very easy to grow and take care of. Do you think these tips are helpful? If you already have one of these plants, have you had much success with getting it to bloom every year?
Top Photo Credit: dubito.ergo.sum
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