Christmas Cactus Care
Christmas cactus make a wonderful holiday plant. They are easy to care for and can be grown indoors all year.
Christmas cactus can be grown indoors in low light but will bloom much better in high light situations. They can be moved outdoors in the summer but should be kept in partial sun to prevent the leaves from burning. When it’s time to bring the plants back inside in the fall, slowly adjust the plants to life indoors by gradually increasing the number of hours they spend indoors each day.
The plant is not a true cactus and is not quite as drought tolerant as the name infers. However, it is a succulent plant and can store a reasonable quantity of water in the leaves. Water thoroughly when the top half of the soil in the pot feels dry to the touch. The length of time between waterings will vary with the air temperature, amount of light, rate of growth, and relative humidity. During the summer, water so that the soil is continually moist. When fall arrives, water the plant only well enough to prevent wilting.
During October, give the plant no water. Cautiously resume watering in November, but don’t let stems get flabby from overwatering. If the atmosphere is dry, place the pot on a tray of pebbles. Keep pebbles moist with water in the tray.
After the plant completes blooming, let it rest by withholding water for six weeks; when new growth appears, re-pot and top-dress with fresh soil. Resume watering to keep the soil reasonably moist.
As tender growth appears in the spring, apply a weak solution of liquid houseplant fertilizer at 2 to 3 weeks.
Common causes of bud dropping are overwatering, exposure to cold drafts, and a position too close to a hot radiator or vent.
How to get your Christmas cactus to flower
These plants are easy to grow but are sometimes difficult to get to bloom. A medium-light intensity and a soil high in organic matter are recommended. Do not allow the plant to dry out—water when the soil surface begins to feel dry. The plant may be kept drier in the fall. Any fertilizer may be used according to label directions. Cool temperatures or long nights are required to induce blooming. The plants bloom when given night temperatures near 55 degrees and day temperatures below 65 degrees.
The schedule of the ideal life of a Christmas Cactus
January – Flowering.
February to March – Resting (55 degrees, infrequent watering).
April to May – Water thoroughly when the potting mix begins to dry out.
June to August – Place outdoors in a shady spot.
September to October – Plant prepares to flower. Reduce the length of daylight hours. Keep on the dry side, and cool (55 to 60 degrees F) until flower buds form. Then increase water and temperature.
November to December – Flowering. Water normally. Temperature is no less than 55 degrees F.