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.
A Christmas cactus needs how much sunlight?
Thanksgiving cactus, holiday cactus, and crab cactus are all names for the Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera truncata). The leaf-shaped stem segments with curled, pointy teeth or claws around the margins are known as crabs. The leaf segments of the Easter cactus (Schlumbergera buckleyi) have rounded edges. They all came from wet, dark forests around the southeast coast of Brazil. Because they reside above ground in trees, where branches meet and decaying leaves and moss amass, they are categorized as epiphytes.
Although this plant has the moniker “cactus,” the maintenance it needs has nothing to do with its relatives in the desert. It is regarded as a type of woodland cactus. Its needs can be traced back to its beginnings. It is recommended for Christmas cactus to grow in “Potty trained That entails storing it in a small container for as long as possible before transferring it to a pot that is only marginally larger. They should not be allowed to dry out and like a thick organic potting mix. When the plant is blossoming, increase the watering. They favor direct, bright light. As the plants start to burn in full light, the leaf segments might turn a dark red color.
The “The two factors of light and temperature are the key to getting Christmas cacti to bloom in the years after purchase. These two hold the secret to the realm of flowers. 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. No matter where the plant is located, avoid using the lights at night, even for a little time. That ends the necessary dark cycle. Around 61 degrees should be the ambient temperature. Place the plant away from drafts of either cold or hot air.
All that is required is to set the Christmas cactus on the window sill in a chilly area without turning on the lights. In a brightly lit space, a plant’s side towards the window will frequently sprout buds, but not the other way around. It usually has to do with either receiving too much or not enough water or with there being insufficient humidity in the air if the plant sets flower buds and then they fall off. The good news is that if their temperature and light needs are met, Christmas cacti are thought to be rather simple to induce to bloom once more.
Where in the house is the ideal location for a cactus?
Nowadays, cacti and succulents are highly popular indoor plants, therefore taking good care of them is crucial. They occur in a wide variety of sizes and shapes, ranging from the small to the enormous. Because they share traits that enable them to endure in arid conditions, cacti and succulents belong to the same category.
The majority of succulents and cacti are endemic to desert environments. They will therefore thrive in conditions with lots of light, good drainage, hot temperatures, and little wetness. However, some cacti and succulents, like Schlumbergera, enjoy semi-shady and wet environments because that is their natural habitat.
The easiest way to take care of cacti and succulents is to try to mimic their natural environment. The essential factors you should take into account when taking care of your succulents and cacti are listed below.
Light, temperature and ventilation
It is advisable to arrange cacti and succulents in a bright area because they do best with good light sources. A place that faces south will get plenty of light. But be careful not to place them in direct sunlight since the strong light may cause the plants to turn yellow. The best kind of light for growing cacti and succulents depends on the species that you are using. For instance, forest-dwelling epiphytes like Rhipsalis require some shade, whereas an Echeveria requires strong light.
It is ideal to keep the plants cool at night, between 8 and 10 degrees Celsius, during the fall and winter. The plants will survive in high temperatures, but they require sufficient ventilation in the spring and summer.
Since Westland cacti and succulent potting mix has included girt and sand for the best drainage, it is a good compost to use. Additionally, it has the ideal quantity of nutrients for your succulents and cacti.
Watering and feeding
It’s a popular misperception that succulents and cacti just need a tiny bit of water. Although their leaves and stems can store water, allowing them to survive in dry environments, they will not grow in environments with little water. Your cactus or succulents’ ability to develop successfully depends on regular watering. Underwatering results in shriveling while overwatering stunts growth.
Instead of using tap water to water plants, use lukewarm rainfall. This is because the minerals in tap water can settle on the leaves and accumulate in the soil. Additionally, minerals obstruct the plant’s access to vital nutrients.
Spring and summer
The plants need to be watered at least once a week during the growing season. Give the soil a good soak when watering, letting any extra water run away. Every time you water the compost, give it a little time to dry out.
Utilize Westland Cacti and Succulent Feed, a recommended recipe to use, to feed your plants once a month. They create more robust growth that is more resistant to disease and has superior flowering thanks to it. Simply take a 5ml quantity of the feed from the dosing chamber and mix it into 1 liter of water.
Autumn and winter
The plants enter a period of rest at this time. Reduce watering so that the potting mix dries out in between applications. The type of succulent and the environment it is in will determine how frequently it has to be watered. Winter-flowering cactus should be kept warm and watered frequently now, whereas desert-dwelling cacti don’t need to be watered. Cacti and succulents don’t need to be fed during this time.
The optimal time to repot cactus or succulents that are pot-bound is in the spring. To replant:
- Before carefully taking the plant from the pot, water it and let it drain. Use folded paper to shield your hands from the spikes.
- To avoid damaging the roots, remove the old soil from around them with a thin stick, like a chopstick.
- The new container, which has a slightly larger diameter, should be filled with potting soil before placing the plant inside of it.
- The remaining potting mix should be added to the pot and compacted.
- To stop the rotting of injured roots, stop watering for a few days.
The finest care for your succulents or cacti comes from maintaining these conditions. The most crucial thing to keep in mind when taking care of your plant is that you are trying to mimic its natural environment!
How often should my Christmas cactus be watered?
Christmas cacti are highly common indoor plants, and for good reason too! They produce vibrant, tubular flowers that are pink or purple in hue when they bloom. They are a superb plant because of their lovely blossoms, lengthy bloom period, and simple maintenance needs. Someone in your family most likely owns a Christmas cactus!
About Christmas Cacti
The Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera x buckleyi) and its cousins don’t exist in hot, arid conditions like deserts or plains, in contrast to other cacti. These epiphytic succulents, which grow on tree branches and take in the high humidity, dappled sunlight, and moderate temperatures, are actually endemic to the tropical rainforests of southern Brazil.
Bottom line: Don’t handle a Christmas cactus like a typical succulent or cactus. They are unable to withstand the same kind of hot, dry weather that other cactus can. These cacti require more frequent watering than most succulents, but you also need to be careful not to overwater them. (See the care guidelines in more detail below.)
Thanksgiving, Easter, or Christmas Cactus?
Each holiday cactus typically blooms closest to the holiday that it is named after: the Easter cactus (S. gaertneri), Thanksgiving cactus (S. truncata), and Christmas cactus (S. x buckleyi). However, most of the “Christmas cacti sold today are actually Thanksgiving cacti, which tend to bloom from November through February and thus pass unnoticed as Christmas cacti. See our post on the several Christmas cacti species and how to distinguish them for more information.
Note: Because it’s the most widely used term and it applies to all three of these species, we’ll refer to all three of them on this page as “Christmas cactus” for simplicity’s sake.
Potting Christmas Cacti
- Choose a pot with a drainage hole on the bottom if you’re choosing one for a Christmas cactus. This prevents the soil from getting overly saturated.
- Most succulent-specific potting mixtures work well for Christmas cacti growth. It’s crucial that your potting soil drains properly.
Where to Put a Christmas Cactus
- Plants should be kept in indirect light that is bright. The best location has an east-facing window or a well-lit bathroom. The delicate leaves might be bleached by too much direct sunshine.
- It is preferable to have a daytime temperature of 70F (21C) and an evening temperature of 60–65F (15–18C).
- Christmas cacti do well in a more humid climate, so keeping them in a well-lit bathroom or kitchen is a smart idea.
- Christmas cacti can be kept in a shady area of the garden or on an unheated porch during the summer until the temperature drops below 50F. (10C). Keep them away from the sun’s rays outside.
How to Care for Christmas Cacti
- Water your plants every two to three weeks, but only when the top third of the soil feels dry to the touch. If the plant is in 6 inches of soil, for instance, water when the top 2 inches of soil feel dry. (Check with your finger!)
- When the soil is completely dry, wet it until water seeps through the drainage holes in the pot. To collect the water, put a tray underneath the pot. To prevent the pot from sitting in water, remove any extra water on the tray after 10 to 15 minutes.
- While the plant is in bloom, it’s very crucial to water thoroughly.
- Feed your indoor plants with a balanced houseplant fertilizer every two weeks from spring through early fall. Feed the cactus once a month in the fall and winter to promote fruitful blooming.
- To promote branching and more flowers, prune plants in the late spring. Simply cut a portion of each stem off; the plant will grow new branches from the incision.
- If desired, plant the cut pieces in potting soil that is only gently damp; they will easily root after a few weeks and make wonderful Christmas gifts!
How to Get Your Christmas Cactus to Bloom
The longer evenings and chilly weather of fall are what cause Christmas cacti and its relatives to bloom. The three major varieties of holiday cacti typically bloom on the following schedule:
- Thanksgiving cactus typically produce flowers from late October through mid-winter, making them the earliest and longest bloomers.
- Christmas cacti often bloom in the early to midwinter months.
- Easter cacti flower around the middle of spring through late winter.
If your cactus isn’t flowering, it can be getting too much light or being exposed to too much heat. Here are some suggestions to help you get blooms from yours!
- For a minimum of six weeks, the nights must be at least 14 hours long and the days between 8 and 10 hours. You might need to cover your cactus or relocate it to an area that is exposed to the natural light cycle if you have powerful interior lighting that is on at night.
- When the plant is kept at temps between 50 and 60F, flower buds form best (10 and 15C).
- By subjecting the plant to temps around 45F (7C) for a number of nights in a succession, you can jumpstart the budding process.
- While the plant is in bloom, be sure to water it consistently. The plant may lose its buds if it dries out too much.
- Don’t worry if the cactus loses its buds one winter; the following year it should bloom.
The three primary varieties of “holiday cacti” are as follows:
- Often mistaken for Christmas cacti, Thanksgiving cacti (Schlumbergera truncata) bloom from late October to mid-winter.
- Christmas cacti (S. x buckleyi) flower in the early to midwinter months.
- Late winter to mid-spring is the blooming period for Easter cacti (S. gaertneri).
- Make sure to water your Christmas cactus frequently and keep it cool when the buds on the plant appear ready to open.
- The optimum time to propagate cuttings is late spring when most holiday cacti start to grow after their winter hibernation.
Blossom loss: Your Christmas cactus will probably lose its blossoms if it experiences any kind of stress. As mentioned in the plant care section above, this could be caused by the amount of light or a sudden shift in temperature. Make sure your soil doesn’t become overly dry while buds are developing.
The plant may be sensitive to mealy bugs and, if over-watered, root rot. If you experience issues, remove the affected sections and repot the plant in fresh soil.