Over the past several months I’ve received several inquires regarding Christmas cactus. The most often asked question was how I can get them to bloom.
Here are a few tips on how to ensure that you Christmas cactus will provide blooms for the holidays.
• Use a sterilized potting soil that contains sand. They like well drained soil.
• Don’t over water, too much water causes the roots to rot. The most common mistake with houseplants is over watering.
• This plant is native to Brazil, it prefers warm temperatures. Keep the plant between 70 and 80 degrees away from drafts.
• Shorten the daylight period to between 9 and 10 hours daily. It needs between 14-15 hours of UNINTERUPPTEDF darkness at a temperature between 55 and 60 degrees. A fruit cellar or closet on an outside wall should provide this environment. The ideal time to begin this is the first day of autumn. If you begin now you should be ok and see blooms around New Years.
• Move the plant to a sunny location after 10-12 weeks of this treatment and wait for the blooms to appear.
I take mine outside in late spring and keep them out all summer and just bring them inside away from a window the first of September for a month than put them in a sunny window. Mine are just starting to put out buds.
I've just been given 5 cactus. They are all blooming. One has limbs that are about 4 feet long! Do you think I should cut these off or let that keep growing? The man that gave them to me said he had the for about 22 years!
I agree with above, repot it once it has finished flowering, you may loose all of the flowers before hand. We keep the one we have indoors, it sits on a North(ish) facing windowsil all year round. We are in Zones 8 or 9...but I wouldn't trust putting it outside since it is pretty cold at times, but other people do all the time. The first one we had must have been about 25 years old, and then it eventually died, it's my mams plant and she has replaced it since but the replacements don't seem to do so well :-(
Shady conditions or filtered light are necessary for Christmas cactus to thrive. You can force bloom by setting the plant in a coolish (60 to 65 degrees F) location, where the light is low but not absent during the day. Do this soon for Christmas bloom. Do not let the soil dry completely, but water infrequently to keep the soil just moist. Watch for signs of buds at the ends of the leaves, and increase humidity and light when they appear. If buds appear too soon, hold them back by reducing the temperature.
The Christmas Cactus is easily propagated by taking short Y-shaped cuttings of the stem tips. A well-tended cactus will reach unmanageable size in time. To root cuttings for new plants, cut back shoots from the tips, cut at the second joint of each tip. Place cuttings in a moist peat and perlite, or peat and sand mixture. Water sparingly at first to prevent rotting of cuttings. After two or three weeks, water as you would any other cutting. When cuttings are rooted, pot them in a very loose mixture of good potting soil.
Plants should be re-potted every two or three years, or whenever pot is filled with roots and the soil appears to be depleted of nutrients. Christmas cactus usually is re-potted in the spring, but a plant which is unhealthy because of the root system can be re-potted at any time of the year.
Last year around October I took my Christmas Cactus outside and fed it almost every time I watered it (about once a week). By November the plant was covered in buds and had grown significantly. The outdoor temperature should be about 20 to 5C. In the beginning of December I brought the plant in and you could hardly see the foilage it had so many flowers! I am looking for a photo of it and when I find one I will post it.