Christmas cacti require direct, strong sunlight. If you’re placing yours indoors near a west or south-facing window, make sure the light is shaded with a sheer curtain because they will burn in direct sunlight. If your home is dry inside in the winter, put it on a tray of stones or put it close to other plants because they need humidity.
Never let them sit in water; only add water when the top feels dry. Christmas cacti prefer temperatures between 65 and 70 degrees during the day and 55 to 65 degrees at night.
Can Christmas cacti be kept indoors?
The common Christmas Cactus (Schlumbergera bridgesii), which blooms in the winter, is a lovely complement to almost any interior space. It is a superb contender for holiday gift giving because it is not only simple to maintain but also easily multiplies. Let’s examine how to grow and maintain a Christmas cactus.
Christmas cacti do not, strictly speaking, have a native environment. They are a hybrid species created through the mating of Schlumbergera truncata (the Thanksgiving cactus) and russelliana. So where are the natural origins of these parent species?
Both are jungle cacti, sometimes known as tropical cacti, which means they don’t typically grow in the same arid environments as many of their cactus siblings. They were first discovered in the same tiny region of tropical southeast Brazil, where they develop in wet, high-altitude woods while soaking up the humidity, shady sunlight, and warm temperatures.
Similar to other epiphytes like string of turtles, air plants, and arrowhead plants, they naturally grow on trees in a non-parasitic manner.
Members of the Rhipsalideae group, Christmas cacti are also known as Zygocacti in horticulture. They are epiphytic succulents that grow on trees, and their growth habit makes them simple to identify. The plants don’t actually have leaves; instead, they create cladodes, which are flattened, green stem segments that resemble long trailing leaves and are employed for photosynthetic purposes.
The flowers of a Christmas cactus are truly stunning, making it impossible to mistake them for anything else. The tubular blooms, which are found at the ends of the segmented stalks, bloom around the Christmas season because the short days and long nights cause them to open (and can bloom again in late winter, given the right conditions).
Selective breeding has produced an astounding array of flower hues, including the traditional red and pink as well as yellow, orange, white, and multicolored varieties.
Cultural significance and lifespan
This plant has unquestionably had significant cultural impact. It is a well-liked indoor plant that is utilized to spruce up homes throughout the holiday season in November and December not just in the US but all over the northern hemisphere.
Did you realize? This plant is called “flor de maio” in its home country of Brazil, which is in the southern hemisphere. This is due to the fact that it blossoms there in May, just before winter, rather than in December!
The plants are widely available starting in the middle of the fall, are cheaply priced while they are in bloom, and are frequently thrown away once they have finished flowering. Like poinsettias and amaryllis, Christmas cacti are frequently treated as seasonal houseplants.
However, Christmas cacti can be kept as indoor plants all year round. With proper care, they can easily live for 20 to 30 years, and in some cases, even up to 100 years or longer!
Can you picture giving your kids or grandchildren a houseplant as a living heirloom? Or getting a Christmas cactus that has been in the family for generations as an inheritance? (I enjoy obsessing about something like that!)
Additionally, you won’t have to stress too much about leaving your cherished plant to your heirs. A Christmas cactus requires only a little extra care to promote repeat blooming during the fall and winter. (Take note that even if your Christmas cactus doesn’t bloom every year, it may still be in good health.)
Where in my home should I place a Christmas cactus?
Holiday cacti may be bought pretty much anywhere that sells plants, from the grocery store to the flower shop, and are incredibly popular gifts during the winter and spring. Holiday cactus are attractive and attract both seasoned and newcomer houseplant aficionados with their succulent foliage and colorful, multicolored blossoms. They frequently pass down from one family to the next and, given adequate care, can live for many years.
Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera x buckleyi), Thanksgiving cactus (Schlumbergera truncata), and Easter cactus (Rhipsalidopsis gaertneri) are three separate varieties that are commonly offered at retail outlets depending on the season “All of them are frequently referred to as Christmas cacti. Due of their comparable maintenance requirements, it is simpler to refer to all three as holiday cacti.
Despite “Holiday cacti require very different maintenance than their desert-dwelling siblings because it’s in their name. Holiday cactus are epiphytes that naturally grow in the shaded limbs of trees in Brazil’s tropical rainforests. Epiphytes are plants that grow on other plants rather than in the ground and obtain their nutrients and moisture from the rain and the atmosphere.
As a result, unlike other cacti, holiday cactus are less tolerant to prolonged drought. Once the potting soil seems dry to the touch, they should be watered, allowing extra water to freely drain from the bottom of the container. Do not allow plants to sit in standing water as this can cause the soil to become flooded. Root rot can develop as a result of ongoing exposure to excessively moist soil, particularly during the winter.
Holiday cacti’s watering requirements vary depending on a variety of elements, including the type of potting soil used, the size of the container, the amount of sunlight the plant receives, and the temperature outside. Making ensuring the plant is in the proper area and only watering when the soil mixture is dry are the keys to maintaining a healthy plant.
Holiday cacti thrive in partial shade, such as an east or west facing window, with temperatures between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Lack of light can limit growth and make the soil mix dry too slowly, while too much harsh sunlight, especially in the summer, can burn the foliage. When in doubt, it is better to water your plants too much than too little.
How much lighting is required indoors for a Christmas cactus?
Flowers are produced by Christmas cacti during a chilly, brief day cycle. It takes at least eight days of 16 hours of darkness and 8 hours of light every day for flower buds to begin to form.
How often does a Christmas cactus bloom each year?
Whichever one you have, it’s possible for them to bloom more than once a year. For Your Reference, Here Are A Few Of Our General Houseplant Guides: Watering Indoor Plants: A Guide.
Do Christmas cacti require sunlight?
You shouldn’t be surprised that Christmas cacti do best in dim light and humid environments given their native climate. Wherever you decide to place your Christmas cactus, make sure to keep it out of direct sunshine. Growing your Christmas cactus in a north- or east-facing window is perfect. The leaf-like pads glowing red is a strong indication that they are receiving too much light.
Christmas cacti can actually be moved outside in the summer because they enjoy the humidity! Store pots out of water after a hard storm, and keep them in a protected, shaded area (you could even hang them among the tree branches for a surprise in the landscape).
Should my Christmas cactus be misted?
Contrary to what its name might imply, Christmas cacti can survive well into the following year. In fact, with a little care and our guidance, they can live for up to 20 years.
Christmas Cacti need cooler temperatures.
Leaving Christmas cacti in a space that is between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit will cause them to bloom more fully and sooner. Keep them away from radiators, fireplaces, and warm windowsills, especially during the winter.
While they don’t need the heat of the sun, they do need its light.
The hard part comes at this point. A Christmas cactus needs lots of sunlight but cannot be kept in direct sunlight as it will dry out. So what should a cactus aficionado do? Your best option is to leave it in a part of your home that is shaded (or outdoors once summer arrives) and rotate it occasionally.
Just like you and I, Christmas cacti need their rest.
Your cactus needs between 1215 hours of uninterrupted darkness per day if its buds haven’t yet set. Cacti only require lots of light once their buds have fully developed.
You should be misting, not watering, every day.
Your cactus will die if you overwater it. But that doesn’t mean they never experience thirst. You should mist your cactus every day rather than watering it like you would a regular plant. You only need a few sprays from a spray bottle to maintain your cactus’ happiness. Only when the soil at the base of the plant feels entirely dry to the touch should you water it.
Christmas cacti need nutrient-rich soil.
Christmas cacti are strong plants that can endure harsher environments, although well-drained soil that has some organic matter is preferable for them. While organic soil is always available to purchase, you can also use your cacti as a little compost and add organic waste that you would typically discard.
When should my Christmas cactus be repotted?
The best time to repot most plants is in the spring when they start to show new growth, but Christmas cacti should be potted after blooming is finished and the blooms have faded, which is in late winter or early spring. It is never a good idea to try to repot the plant when it is in full bloom.
Repotting Christmas cactus should be delayed because this tough succulent thrives when its roots are little congested. Frequently repotting a plant might harm it.
Repotting Christmas cactus is typically sufficient every three to four years, but you might wish to hold off until the plant starts to appear worn out or you see some roots poking through the drainage hole. A plant can frequently flourish happily in the same pot for years.
How should a house cactus be cared for?
As long as they are placed in an area that receives at least 4 to 6 hours of sunshine every day, cacti can be cultivated indoors. To ensure they are etiolated, we advise rotating them daily in your brightest windowsill, which is typically a southeast-facing window.
Which is better for watering: the top or the bottom?
To ensure that the water reaches the Christmas cactus’ roots, irrigate it from the bottom up. Continue adding water to the soil until it begins to seep through the pot’s openings. It hydrates the ground.
Ensure that there is no standing water beneath the pot once the soil has been thoroughly moistened. Never leave excess water in the planter; you don’t want mold, root rot, or insects laying eggs there. If the water is fully separate from the pot and is in a tray underneath the pot, that’s acceptable.
Mist the Leaves
You can sprinkle the leaves with water in a spray bottle to keep them as healthy as possible. When watering the plant, misting the leaves only once will be sufficient to provide appropriate hydration.
Why are my Christmas cactus’ limp leaves?
Lack of water or much sunlight can occasionally result in wilted or weak Christmas cacti. Start by giving the wilting Christmas cactus a small amount of water if you haven’t been watering it. Every few days, continue to water carefully until the soil is barely damp.
Christmas cactus issues can also result from excessively damp soil. The Christmas cactus cannot tolerate wet roots since it is an epiphyte in its natural habitat on the ground of tropical forests, where it takes moisture and nutrients from the air. The roots of Christmas cacti can become excessively wet and floppy because to poor drainage.
Move your wilted or limp Christmas cactus to a location with more shade, especially in the afternoon, if the leaves look dried or burned.
Can I leave my outdoor Christmas cactus?
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A robust Christmas cactus in full bloom makes a wonderful present or decoration, despite the fact that poinsettias continue to be the most widely used holiday plant. Christmas cacti may be cultivated year-round indoors and require little maintenance. The flowers come in a variety of hues, including combinations of yellow, salmon, pink, fuchsia, and white.
A Christmas cactus should be placed in a sunny area of the house when it is moved to its permanent location. The best light comes from a window facing north or east. If you wish to grow it inside, shade the plant with thin curtains in a south or west window.
The leaves of the Christmas cactus, a succulent plant, can hold a respectable amount of water. It is not, however, as drought-tolerant as you might imagine. When you can feel the top half of the growth mix feeling dry to the touch, water well. The amount of time between watering depends on the relative humidity, air temperature, amount of light, rate of development, and temperature of the soil.
For the Christmas cactus, humidity is crucial. Put the container on a pebble tray. To improve the humidity around the plant, keep water in the tray. Maintain the plant in this manner until it has finished blooming.
After blossoming is finished, give the plant six weeks without water to rest. Resuming watering after that will keep the soil relatively moist while allowing the top to dry off. Transfer the plant to a new container as necessary as springtime tender growth emerges, or top-dress with new growing medium. For Christmas cactus, potting soil that drains well is essential. For succulent plants, use potting soil that has been professionally packed. Every two to three years, or whenever the container is full of roots, plants need to be replanted. Any time of year is a good opportunity to repot plants that seem unwell. Every two to three weeks, use a liquid houseplant fertilizer at half the recommended rate as a follow-up.
In the summer, Christmas cacti can be put outside, but they need to be tended in a partially to completely shaded area. The leaves can burn in direct sunlight. For the summer, some gardeners relocate their plants to a porch or patio with shade. After the growing mix dries on top in the summer, water it to keep it moist.
After making sure no insects are accompanying the plant, bring it indoors when fall arrives in September. Most insects that attempt to board are usually driven off by a stream of water sprayed in their direction. Like before it went on vacation outside, put the Christmas cactus in a sunny spot. High light intensity is essential for the development of flowers.
Water simply enough during fall maintenance to keep plants from withering. Before watering, let the top half of the potting mix dry out. The pebble tray with water for humidity should not be forgotten. Don’t water the plant in October unless it starts to wilt. In November, you can slowly start watering again. Branches droop and snap when they are overwatered. When the growing mix’s top dries off, add water.
Although the Christmas cactus is simple to grow, some claim that it can be challenging to get it to bloom once more. Cool temperatures are necessary for flowering even though warm temperatures are beneficial throughout the growing season. Keep the plant somewhere where the temperature is between 60 and 65 degrees starting in October. Keep Christmas cactus away from fireplaces, heat vents, and other heat sources. Flower buds will grow if temperatures stay in this range for a period of six weeks.
If you are unable to maintain temperatures in this range, you must provide the plant with 13 hours of continuous darkness every night to trigger flowering, which should begin around the first of October. Every night, put the Christmas cactus in a room that is entirely dark, or cover it with a box or dark piece of clothing.
Stop fertilizing and only water enough to keep the leaves from drooping throughout the period of flower bud production, which begins in October. Water the growth mix when the top half becomes dry to achieve this.
Once the Christmas cactus develops buds, nurture it in a room with typical indoor temperatures and medium to high light. Water the plant to keep it evenly moist when the growing medium’s top dries out. Give your Christmas cactus a half rate of liquid houseplant fertilizer every other week. In the new year, good luck with your interior and outdoor horticultural projects, including your Christmas cactus.