Want to get your Christmas cactus to bloom bigger than ever this year -and all throughout the holiday season?
Nothing quite says Christmas like a gorgeous Christmas cactus blooming bright. Long hailed for their perfectly timed display of holiday blooms, Christmas cacti are an easy-care houseplant that can add a burst of color to your home throughout the holidays – and beyond!
The flat, green, pointy edge stems of the Christmas cactus give the plant a unique look and stature. The foliage grows in a true spider-like, segmented fashion. If left to grow, the segments can grow as long as two to three feet in length!
But without a doubt, it is the showy and colorful blooms that really steal the show. With varieties that can bloom from red, pink, yellow, purple and white, they can certainly create a festive look throughout the holiday season.
Getting Your Plants To Bloom…
For many who grow the plant, there can be one tricky little issue with the plant – and that is getting them to bloom at the right time through the holiday season. Especially if you have owned the plant for more than one growing season.
Of course, when you purchase a new plant, the work of timing the blooms with the season has already been done by a nursery or grower. Product link : Red Christmas Cactus Plant
But to get your cactus to bloom again in subsequent years, it does require a little bit of work. But here is the good news – that work is actually quite simple and easy to do!
Getting A Christmas Cactus To Bloom At Christmas
The Christmas cactus plant originates from the mountains of the eastern Brazil coastline. There, it naturally goes through a chilling phase in winter. And because it is winter, it also stays in the dark for longer periods of time. In fact, it often gets almost 14 hours of darkness each day.
It is that combination of cool temperatures and darkness that force the plant into bloom. And as a houseplant, those are exactly the conditions you have to mimic to get your plants to bloom around the holiday season as well.
The Chill & Darkness Trick
About six to eight weeks before Christmas, it is time to move your cactus plant to a cool area. A cool, moist basement, a semi-heated garage, or a very cool room of the house all work well for this. As a rule of thumb, try to keep the plant in a room where the temperatures are around 55° (F).
Much like the flowering poinsettia, Christmas cacti need to be kept in long periods of darkness as well to help force new blooms. At this point, make sure to keep the plants in total darkness for at least 12 to 14 hours each day. See : How To Keep Your Poinsettia Plant Blooming – 4 Secrets To Success!
In order to accomplish both the chill and darkness, you may have to cover or move your plant into a dark closet in the chilling room for most of the day and overnight. When it is out, it should be receiving low light, away from a window for no more than 8 hours.
During this time, keep the soil lightly watered. You want to water your plant enough so that the soil feels barely moist to the touch. This lower moisture is important too, as it helps to force new growth to the cactus.
It will usually take about 6 to 8 weeks after new growth appears for plant to form new buds and bloom. Do not fertilize your Christmas cactus at this point, that should be done after it completes its bloom cycle.
Keeping Your Christmas Cactus Blooming Strong
Once your plant has buds and ready to bloom, it is time to bring it out for the holiday season. To keep your plant blooming at its best, there are a few additional tips you will want to follow. First and foremost, keep it out of direct sunlight.
Direct sunlight will actually decrease the plant’s bloom life. It is far better to put your cactus in a location that receives indirect lighting from a window. In addition, keep your plant away from heating or return air vents that can dry it out quickly.
Although the “cactus” name makes one think of dry desert conditions, the Christmas cactus actually prefers high-humidity. Putting it near vents, drafts or a fireplace can not only hinder blooming, but injure the plant as well.
With proper lighting and by giving the plant enough moisture, you should be able to enjoy a solid 3+ weeks of blooms – perfect for enjoying the holiday season in its entirety!
Long Term Care – How To Get Your Christmas Cactus To Bloom Big
In general, the Christmas cacti are extremely easy plants to care for indoors. Continue to water and care for your plant as usual after the bloom season and begin removing any spent blooms or foliage that become unsightly or damaged.
A Christmas cactus prefers moist, but not saturated soil. Water the plant when the top third portion of the soil begins to dry out. Soak the soil when watering but be sure to remove any excess water that drains out the bottom. Allowing water to remain in the bottom can cause the roots to rot away.
Eventually, all of the blooms will disappear and you can maintain the plant as a typical houseplant. After blooming, Christmas cacti should be kept in high, natural light areas, but out of direct sunlight. If kept too close to a window with direct sunlight, the tender shoots can actually burn.
If your plants have become overly large, you can repot them into a larger container. Christmas cacti are slow growers, so this will not have to occur on a regular basis. A high-quality general potting or container soil is perfect as a growing medium. Most importantly, be sure the plant is kept in a container that can drain easily.
Fertilizing & Pruning – How To Get Your Christmas Cactus To Bloom Big
Christmas cacti benefit from a little fertilizer after their bloom season to keep healthy and strong. Use a high-quality all-purpose houseplant fertilizer for best results. As for how often, a monthly or every other monthly application is usually more than enough to keep the plant in good order.
In the late spring, summer and fall, plants can be moved outdoor to a shady location if desired. They are also more than fine to simply leave indoors as a houseplant year round.
The best time to prune Christmas cacti is in late June to mid-July. This allows enough time for the plants to put forth new growth and be ready provide Christmas blooms all over again. Here is to getting your Christmas cactus to bloom big this year – all through the holiday season!
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