How to Care for Christmas Cactus

Did you know that there are cacti in this family named for other holidays?  In fact, the Christmas Cactus you buy in December may actually be a Thanksgiving Cactus because they are easier to ship.  There is also Easter Cactus and Holiday Cactus.

It’s a Little Different

They are all in the same family (Schlumbergera), and it hails from the coast of Brazil.  It is different from the desert cactus you are familiar with because it likes a humid climate and is sensitive to the temperature in your home. It does best at 65-75 degrees, slightly cooler at night.

Pot It Up

Repot your nursery plant into a slightly larger clay pot (it lets roots breathe) using a commercial cactus mix potting soil.  Place a saucer filled with stones under the pot and add water for humidity, but don’t let the bottom of the pot sit in water. They perform better when they are pot bound, so you only need to repot, a few months after their bloom cycle, every 2-3 years.

Be Water Wise

Check them weekly for water.  They will typically need water every one to three weeks depending on environmental conditions.  Allow the soil to dry between waterings, then water thoroughly and allow any excess to drain out completely.  They don’t like wet feet. Fertilize when you see new growth appear in spring and again once a month through mid-summer.  Don’t fertilize right before or during the bloom cycle.

It Needs Darkness

In order to get your cactus to set buds and bloom, it needs darkness, reduced temperature and moisture.   Put it in a place where it gets 12-14 hours of complete darkness and temperatures between 50-55 degrees.  The rest of the day, bring them into the light and keep temperatures between 50-65 degrees.  Start this process about 6-8 weeks before you want it to bloom.

For more information on how to grow these wonderful plants, see

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FFX787RGwgI

 

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