About Christmas Cacti
The Christmas cactus is a popular houseplant that blooms indoors in the winter, making it popular around the holidays and an excellent gift. Unlike ordinary cacti, however, this is not a plant from a dry, hot desert region. This succulent is endemic to tropical rainforests, which grow on tree branches and absorb high humidity, dappled sunlight, and warm temperatures.
The bottom line: Don’t treat a Christmas cactus like any other cactus! It is critical to water these cacti more frequently and avoids overwatering them. (See complete care instructions below.)
Holiday Cactus Types
There are three types of “holiday” cacti: Easter cactus (S. Gartner), Thanksgiving cactus (S. truncate), and Christmas cactus (S. x buckleyi). For the sake of simplicity, we will refer to all three of these species as “Christmas cactus” on this page because the care is the same.
Christmas Cactus Potting
- When choosing a container for a Christmas cactus, ensure it has a drainage hole on the bottom. This keeps the soil from being overly damp.
- Christmas cacti grow nicely in most succulent-specific potting mixes. It is critical that your planting drains effectively.
Where to Place a Christmas Cactus
- Plants should indeed be kept in indirect, bright light. A bright bathroom or an east-facing window is perfect. Too direct sunshine can fade the delicate foliage.
- It is preferable to have a daytime warmth of 70°F (21°C) and a nighttime temperature of 60-65°F (15-18°C).
- Christmas cacti enjoy a humid climate, so a bright washroom or kitchen is a wonderful place to store them.
- Christmas cacti could be kept shady in the yard or on an unheated porch in the summer until temperatures fall below 50°F (10°C). Keep them away from direct sunshine.
How to Caring for Christmas Cacti
- Water each 2 to 3 weeks, but only if the top one-third of the soil is dry to the touch. Water when the top 2 inches of soil feel dry, for example, if the plant is in 6 inches of dirt. (Check with your finger!)
- Soak the ground until water runs through the pot’s drainage holes when it is suitably dry. To catch the water, place a tray beneath the pot. After 10-15 minutes, remove any extra water from the tray, so the pot does not sit in water.
- Watering is very vital while the plant is blossoming.
- Provide a balance houseplant fertilizer every two weeks from spring through early fall. Feed the cactus regularly during the autumn and winter months to stimulate successful blooming.
- Plants should be pruned in late spring to stimulate branching and more flowers. Cut a few portions from each stem, and the plant will branch from the wound.
- Place the cut pieces in a little wet potting soil if desired—they root readily after a few weeks and make fantastic Christmas gifts!
How to Make a Christmas Cactus Bloom
The colder temperatures and longer nights of autumn cause the blooms of Christmas cacti and their relatives. This pattern is followed by the three primary kinds of holiday cacti:
- Thanksgiving cacti are the first and longest bloomers, with flowers appearing from late October through mid-winter.
- Christmas cacti typically bloom from early to mid-winter.
- From late winter until mid-spring, Easter cacti bloom.
If your cactus isn’t flowering, it could be due to excessive light or too hot temperatures. Here are some pointers to help you get yours to bloom!
- During at least six weeks, nights must be at least 14 hours, and days must be between 8 and 10 hours. If you have strong interior lighting that is turned on at nighttime, you might have to cover your cactus or relocate it to an area that receives natural light.
- Buds form best so when the plant is kept at a temperature between 50 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit (10 and 15 degrees Celsius).
- You can jumpstart the budding process by subjecting the plant to a temperature of roughly 45°F (7°C) for many nights in a row.
- Make sure to water the plant on a regular basis when it is in bloom. If the plant dries excessively, this could drop its buds.
- Don’t worry if the cactus loses its buds one winter: it will bloom the next year!
Watch the video below to learn more!
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