Christmas Cactus

, Christmas Cactus, Redwood Nursery & Garden Center

Christmas cacti are a very popular houseplant—and for good reason! When they bloom, they produce colorful, tubular flowers in pink or lilac colors. Their beautiful flowers, long bloom time, and easy care requirements make them a wonderful plant. We’ll bet someone in your family has a Christmas cactus!

Unlike many other cacti, Christmas cacti and their relatives don’t live in arid environments. Their natural habit is one of an epiphyte living in tree branches in the rain forests of Brazil! In other words, they prefer a humid climate, not a dry one, so it’s important to water these cacti more regularly than most succulents.

PLANTING

  • Christmas cacti grow well in most container soils, as long as it drains well. Make sure that your pots have drainage holes.
  • Plants should be kept in bright, indirect light.
  • A daytime temperature of 70°F (21C) and an evening temperature of 60-65°F (15-18°C) is preferred.
  • In the summer, Christmas cacti can be placed in a shady spot in the garden or in an unheated porch until temperatures get below 50°F (10°C).

CARE

  • As soon as the top inch of soil in the container feels dry to the touch, soak the soil until water runs through the pot’s drainage holes; discard water in the tray so the plant doesn’t sit in water. It’s especially important to water well while the plant is flowering.
  • From spring through early fall, feed every 2 weeks with a balanced houseplant fertilizer. During the fall and winter, feed the cactus monthly.
  • Prune plants in June to encourage branching and more flowers. Simply cut off a few sections of each stem. If you wish, place the cut pieces in moist vermiculite to make more plants—they root easily.
  • If your cactus is not blooming, it may be due to the amount of daylight they’re getting or the temperature.
    • To trigger blooming, nights need to be at least 14 hours long and days between 8 to 10 hours for six weeks. If you have strong indoor lighting at night, you may need to cover your cacti.
    • Flowers will only form when the temperature is between a cool 50 to 55°F (10 to 13°C).
  • If the cacti sheds its buds one winter, don’t worry: it should bloom the following year.