This common indoor plant that blooms in the winter is one of the most exotic-looking flowers in the plant kingdom and adds a festive punch of crimson to almost any interior space. Christmas cacti make wonderful holiday gifts since they are not only simple to care for but also spread easily. Christmas cactus thrives in typical residential environments with no maintenance. Although it can adapt to low light levels, the plant will blossom more quickly under higher lighting. However, the Christmas cactus’s leaves can be damaged by excessive direct sunlight, so keep it in a suitable location to prevent this. Additionally, moisture is crucial for Christmas cactus. During the plant’s active growth in the spring and summer, frequent and thorough watering is required to maintain a moist soil environment. Between waterings, let the Christmas cactus’ moisture levels fall and dry out a little, but never totally, and never let the plant sit in water.
When is the best time of year to purchase a Christmas cactus?
In the late fall and winter, Christmas cacti are typically bought already in bloom or at least budded. Avoid drastic temperature changes when transporting your Christmas cactus since they can cause some of the buds to fall off. For optimal results, place in a light window and maintain the soil just moist enough. During the winter flowering season, fertilizer is not required.
Christmas cacti require as much light as possible once the last blooms have faded and prefer to be maintained on the cool side during rest periods (February – March and July – August). The plant needs to be transferred to a normal room temperature once the flower buds begin to appear in the fall.
At the start of the growth period, these cacti should be repotted every three to five years. It’s important that the soil flow easily, so always use a light soil (commercial cactus soil is acceptable).
The right amount of water, food, and relaxation must be given at the right times. Additionally, the length of daylight and the temperature of the environment will affect flowering.
The plant needs to rest when flowering is finished. Sparingly water it; do not let the stems to shrivel. If at all feasible, relocate the plant to a cool, well-lit area.
From the first of April, begin watering more frequently. Now that winter is over, the cactus will begin to flourish once more. The tips of each stem will have fresh shoots that may be seen plainly. If necessary, pot in April, and then feed a few times throughout the following months. Use a regular cactus soil that allows water to drain freely. If the soil is excessively damp, the weak roots will decay.
Christmas cacti can be placed outside in a light spot once the weather warms up. Avoid direct sunlight because certain types’ stems might become sunburned. I prefer bright, dappled shade.
This time of year is ideal for taking cuttings if you wish to. Placing good stems with two to four segments in damp sand makes propagation simple.
Reduce watering and let the soil completely dry in between waterings so that it doesn’t shrivel.
If you have your cactus outside for the summer, you can leave it there until the temperatures at night fall below fifty degrees (this period of cool nights and shortening days will encourage lots of flower buds). Restart increasing watering as soon as there are any indications of blossom buds. When growing blooms, the cactus must never become dry or be moved around excessively, as this will cause the buds to fall off the plant.
Mid-fall is when you should start to notice little, spherical buds emerging at the tips. When buds are growing in September and October, a few fertilizer applications may be beneficial for an old, huge plant.
It is diagnosed as needing more water. Give it a good soak in a basin of water or the sink, and after about 30 minutes, let it completely drain.
The roots are rotting, thus that is the diagnosis. Either the soil composition is incorrect or the plant has been overwatered. Take good cuttings and establish new plants because the plant cannot endure much longer.
The plant has either experienced too much movement or not enough water during the period when it establishes its buds, according to the diagnosis. More care should be given to it; observe the results. The next bloom cycle might be all that’s necessary for you to witness its splendor.
This year, give a Christmas cactus a try! The plant you purchase now might end up as an heirloom tomorrow!
Where can one locate Christmas cactus?
Christmas cactus, or hybrid Schlumbergera buckleyi, is a well-known cactus in the Cactaceae family that is grown for its eye-catching cerise flowers, which bloom inside around the time of Christmas in the Northern Hemisphere. The majority of Christmas cacti that are currently grown are thought to be hybrids between S. russelliana and the Thanksgiving, or crab, cactus (Schlumbergera truncata, originally Epiphyllum truncatum). It is native to Brazil, where it grows as an epiphyte in rainforests, primarily on trees or bushes but also in shaded areas among rocks. It is a member of the Schlumbergera genus. Zygocactus, the alternate name for the genus, is commonly used.
The Thanksgiving cactus and the Christmas cactus are sometimes confused, although the former has crenated (rounded) stem joint margins, and the latter has strongly saw-toothed stem joint margins. Thanksgiving cacti are frequently mistakenly marketed as Christmas cacti since they bloom in the late fall.
The best Christmas cactus is…
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.
Are Christmas cacti seasonal bloomers?
In November or December, your Christmas cactus plant blossomed profusely, and now you’re wondering if you’ll have to wait a whole year for it to bloom once more. The unexpected response is: Nope! The appropriate (and somewhat severe) conditions can cause holiday cactus to bloom once more after the season has passed. What must be done to ensure a repeat blossoming in February?
Can Christmas cactus be grown with Miracle Grow?
When Christmas cacti are tightly contained in their containers, they typically grow bigger and produce more flowers. But once the roots have nearly filled the pot, proceed as follows:
1. Choose a replacement pot with a drainage hole that is only 1 to 2 inches wider than the old one.
2. To help your Christmas cactus thrive straight away, fill the new container 1/3 full with Miracle-Gro Cactus, Palm & Citrus Potting Mix, which offers great drainage and a little amount of food.
3. After placing the plant in the pot, make sure the root ball’s top is positioned 3/4 to 1 inch or less below the pot’s rim.
4. Fill in the area around the rootball, leaving a gap of about 3/4 inch between the soil’s top and the container’s lip (for easy watering).
5. After giving the plant plenty of water, let it drain, then relocate it to a permanent location. (Place a water-resistant saucer underneath the pot to prevent spills on the furniture.)
Secret tip: After plants have recovered from blooming and begun to grow again in late spring, this is the ideal time to repot them.
Deadhead your Christmas cactus?
Christmas is typically not a time when desert-dwelling flora are highlighted because the holiday generally honors brisk pine tree forests, chilly temperatures, and snowfall. The Christmas Cactus is an exception, though, as it is indigenous to Brazil’s rainforests. It’s difficult to miss this plant during the season with its long flat stems and beautifully colored flowers. The Christmas Cactus will offer you tons of flowers in pinks, reds, purples, and white while it’s tough to get your other cactus to bloom. Possibly not always the colors of the season, but nonetheless lovely.
Perhaps you saw one at the florist or your neighbor decided to give you a Christmas Cactus as a gift in appreciation for your assistance in setting up the lights (well done!). You’re unsure of what to do with it as it sits in your living room, however it got there. You could be a little confused by the fact that it’s a cactus because they are frequently associated with moodiness around water. But unlike its relatives, this cactus is not terrified of water and has very few sharp parts, so it won’t bite. Discover how to take care of your Christmas cactus by reading on.
No life jacket requiredWatering your Christmas Cactus
The Christmas Cactus adores the water, contrary to what you might be used to (swimming, water polo, and perhaps even a little skinny dipping!) It prefers to have regular waterings that thoroughly wet the soil. Despite the fact that you should let the soil dry up a little bit in between your planned waterings, you should never let it become fully dry. This may impede the growth of your plant and lead it to lose all of the carefully tended flowers!
Warm hugsDon’t give your cacti the cold shoulder
The ideal temperature range for your Christmas Cactus should be between 15 and 21 degrees Celsius, despite the fact that hugging cacti is generally not advised. Like any warm-blooded plant, try to keep it away from drafts and vents. For these guys, a constant temperature is optimal. Although bright light is preferred, excessive amounts of direct sunlight can burn the stems.
A life after ChristmasWhat to do with your Christmas Cactus after the season
Deadhead all the wasted blooms to keep your cacti looking their best during and after the Christmas season. Additionally, this stimulates the plant to keep on blooming. You can continue to enjoy your cacti after Christmas until it eventually stops blooming. But once it does, don’t get rid of it! Whether or not they bloom, these cacti make stunning houseplants. And chances are it will blossom for you once more the next year, and occasionally even in the midst of the year. (Bonus!)
You can prune it at the start of the summer by cutting back a few of the stems’ lankier portions. Similar to getting a haircut, this fosters further growth and allows it to blossom once more.
Whether or not it is the holiday season, your Christmas Cactus will stand out from the rest of your houseplants thanks to its tall stalks and vivid blossoms! Enjoy its distinctive design in your house.
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?
The Easter cactus (S. gaertneri), Thanksgiving cactus (S. truncata), and Christmas cactus are the three main varieties of “holiday cacti” that are available (S. x buckleyi). The holiday that each cactus is named after often sees the most blooming. Thanksgiving cacti, which often bloom from November to February and hence go unrecognized as Christmas cacti, make up the majority of “Christmas cacti” sold nowadays. 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 could be vulnerable to mealy bugs and root rot if overwatered. If you experience issues, remove the affected sections and repot the plant in fresh soil.