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What's Wrong With ''Christmas Cactus''???

Braselton, GA(Zone 8a)

I have had this "Christmas Cactus" for several years now. About 2 months ago, parts of it started shriveling up- almost drying up. It seems to be spreading to the whole plant now. I have done nothing different to it and I see no insects. I make sure to water correctly and it gets indirect light. I put it out on my porch a couple weeks ago thinking it would help it to get more light. But it is still the same way. I am afraid its going to die. It was a cutting my MIL gave me when her sister died. The mother plant was very old.

I don't wanna lose it!!

What can I do???

Thanks for any help!!!!

Valley Village, CA

Get it out of the soil fast, look at those roots, and dip them into Saffer's soap, and wash off thoroughly. Let dry and put in dry soil, it sould be dormant cut back water severely.
First make sure the roots are not rotting.Iif they are take cutting and let them dry for a few days. Use a hormone on the roots, and shake off, then plant in dry soil. This is the wrong time for cuttings as well.
but if the plant is dying you have nothing to lose. If the plants roots are healthy give clean new soil and cut back on watering. But the plant in shade. Make sure the roots if healthy has at least room to grow especially if they were crowed into it's pot, unwind them, gently. How big is your pot now, 2" 4" 6" 8" and hanging basket, does it have good drainage. Where do you live? has it become cold at night, they don't like the cold. They are a tropical cactus that live in trees or grown in hot houses. It will not like direct sun at all. Grow in the same way you would grow and Epi, and do not heap so much love on the plant. In the Spring fertilize it weekly. and trim out all dead growth. You may want to trim some of the growth back so it can put out more roots not so many leaves, have you overfertilized it? Make sure you have a 8-10-10 6-10-10 you will need a low nitregen content. You want a root and flower fertilizer in the spring. But not now. Make sure the soil can take up all the water, the root ball can be dried out if planted in peat moss. It may be only getting wet on the sides of the pot, not in the middle of the root ball, that is why I take all new plants out of the soil, they growers must use a mix that ships well, and hold well until the plant is sold. Use the same mix in all plants, so the watering will be the same. Use as many pots as you can all the same size, so the watering will be the same. This is very important if you have a large number of plants, do not use a water meter, use a pencil or chop stick or the plastic label, and by the way only use a #2 pencil to write your label. Labels can be made from mini blinds.

Please let me know what you find regarding the roots, so I can further assits you. Norma

Valley Village, CA

I think I found more information on your cactus. I looked in very old catalogues, I found out that the Easter cactus needs more light than the Christmas cactus, and there is also a Thankgiving one? Not all are tropicals, some like it much cooler. I can send you some information that comes from the catalogues. Norma

Braselton, GA(Zone 8a)

I am in Ga so it gets plenty of warmth.
Yesterday I took it out of its pot. The soil seemed to be dry. I repotted with new soil and watered it a bit.
I will let you know how its doing.

Thank you so very much for all your great tips and help!!!!

Valley Village, CA

Berrygirl, I just came across this information in one of my gift books. A fine spraying of the branches removes the dust and better simulates the conditions of the plant's humid jungle home. This spraying seems to benefit the developing flowers and helps to prevent the plant (especially the Christmas Cactus) from dropping its buds. Spray in the afternoon when there is no sun on the plants. There is an Epi Handbook by Scott Hazelton you may be able to find used. Check around it is a very good book. There black and white pictures only, but are excellant. Norma

Braselton, GA(Zone 8a)

Wanted to update you all and let you know my cactus made it!!

I don't want you all to think I am telling a tall tale when I tell you this: it had blooms of two different colors on it this Xmas!! It has always bloomed a salmon red color but it also had some fuschia- colored(sp?) blooms on it as well. I could not believe it. Wish I has a digicam to show you the blooms. I don't know if it being sick had anything to do with it or not. I have no other cacti for it to cross with, either.

I will also add bloom amt. was very light but I am just glad it lived! I really didn't expect it to bloom at all.

Valley Village, CA

I think the good care that you gave it, made it show it's appreciation. Rewarding you with extra special flowers. Was it sick because the root ball got too packed and water wasn't really getting all the way in?

For all of us, we must make sure that we saturate the plants thoroughly when watering, other wise in just runs down the sides and out.

This is the reason I don't use Peat Moss, it packs down. I do like some coco bark in the soil, because it helps keep it moist. Orchid bark would be terrifc for this particular species. With good luck it just may flower again for you in the Spring, new soil often wakes them up.

Sick plants? Look at the roots first. Change soil, the plant will reward you.
We like fresh linens, they like fresh soil. They don't like sleeping in a dirty bed. Norma

Braselton, GA(Zone 8a)

You helped me a few months back and I had forgotten it was you so thanks again!! I did what you said to do.
I think that was the problem- the soil at the top was wet and the roots were dry. I repotted with a good mix that has the water-retaining crystals and it is doing just fine!

Have you ever had one that had two diff. colored blooms on it or have you ever heard of this?

Chicago, IL(Zone 6a)

Berrygirl, I have heard that Christmas cactus flowers can change color based on temperature. Maybe the odd-colored blooms were closer to the windowpane or exposed to some sort of draft.

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