- Expose the Christmas cactus to optimum light
Though the Christmas cactus grows well indoor, it requires an adequate amount of light to bloom readily. Therefore, you should position your cactus near the window for maximum exposure to diffuse light. Even though the plant requires light to blossom, too much light can burn the leaves and cause stunted growth as well. Also, ensure that your Christmas tree is away from the hot air, heat vents and drafts.
During summers, you can transfer the plant from indoors to a shady condition. In addition to that, ensure your indoor temperatures ranges from 18-20o C. You can keep the light diffuse using partially transparent curtains or any other material that can diffuse light on the west or south-facing windows.
- Provide an additional source of humidity
This is very crucial when you’re living in the areas with low atmospheric humidity that does not reach the standard 50 -60%. To increase the humidity of the room, place a tray of water near the plant so that the water can evaporate and give the required humidity.
- Use a well-drained rooting medium
Well-Drained soil is essential for having a healthy Christmas cactus. Also, you need a well-draining container that will not accumulate water in the root, thereby making the roots to rot. That being said, some of the nursery planters and orchid planters work pretty well.
- Supply adequate moisture
Moisture is equally an essential requirement for healthy and vigorous growth of cactus. Therefore, the plant requires frequent watering during its active growth period in spring and summer. Unlike the desert cactus that tolerated low moisture conditions, Christmas cactus is a tropical cactus that requires sufficient moisture to do well.
When the moisture in the soil falls low to the extent of the soil becoming too dry, the flower buds will wilt and drop followed by the main plant. Before you can decide on whether to water or not, use your finger to feel if the top inch is wet or dry. If it’s dry, then it’s time to water. Never water when the top layer is wet as excess watering leads to incidences of white rot that eventually causes the leaves to dry.
- Adjust the watering according to seasons
As the seasons change, it would be a great idea to keep changing how you water your Christmas cactus. When the weather is warm and sunny, you can stick to watering 2-3 days. During cold and humid days, you can water once a week. Lastly, water the plants less frequently during fall and winter to activate blooming.
As much cactus needs regular watering, there are certain parts of there are certain times when you should stop watering the plant. Below is the time you should not water your plant.
- Stop watering in October. This is to encourage blooming around Christmas time. However, you can resume some light watering in November when necessary.
- Stop watering after the flower blooms. After the bloom, give the plan rest for six weeks before resuming your watering duties. Even if you don’t water at this time, new growth will still be appearing.
- Apply fertilizer
Like any other plant, the Christmas cactus responds well to fertilizers. Therefore, you should supply a blooming house-plant type of fertilizer. You can do this when the plant is about 2-3 weeks old for a better effect. For subsequent top-ups, you can read the manufacturer’s instructions on how much and the amount to feed. However, you can always apply the fertilizer formulation of 20:20:20 in every three weeks and stop fertilizing the plant towards the end of October before the buds appear.
- Watch for any abnormalities such as bud drop
One of the worst experience that you can have with Christmas cactus is when the much-awaited buds form and then starts to drop off. But the good news is that you can arrest the situation if you notice it early enough. Bud fall can be due to lack of enough sunlight, overwatering, or extremely low humidity. In case of such abnormality, reduce watering and add some fertilizer to the pot. Also, you should transfer the plant to another more favorable place.
- Induce Flower blooming
Some of the proven ways of getting your cactus to flower during the Christmas season include limited watering, correct temperatures, and proper temperatures. If you can succeed in manipulating these three parameters, then getting the flowers at your convenient time will be a routine. Below are the tips that you can use to get flowers at the right time of need.
- Since this plant is highly sensitive to light duration and temperatures, expose it to optimum daylight and maintains the temperature at 50 to 60oF to induce blooming. However, any temperature drop below 50 degrees F, the plant will not flower.
- Carryout early cold temperatures treatment. If you want the cactus to flower in time, early cool treatments should start right in September. Also, ensure the cactus is kept in a room with temperatures maintained at 50-55°F. But ensure you don’t freeze the plant, and your cactus will be blooming at the right time.
- Start dark treatment in falls, probably during mid-October. During the dark treatment period, place the cactus in the dark for not less than 12 hours for 6 to 8 weeks until when the buds start to form. You can put the plants in an unused bathroom or a closet.
- Be careful not to over-water the plant as sudden moisture saturation at the roots may cause leaf fall. Instead, only moisten the top inch layer.
- Start increasing the temperatures, humidity, and light when you see the buds forming. To be precise, you should revert to the standard treatment. But if the flower buds start to develop too early, lower the temperatures to stunt them until the right time.
- Care for Christmas cactus after bloom
Remember to prune your Christmas cactus after the flower is over to promote the development of lateral branches after the period of rest. However, some people wait until Mach and prune when the new growth begins to show. Also, you should wait for about 30 days after the bloom before you can resume watering again. And that’s pretty much of how to care for Christmas cactus after it blooms.
- How to Care for a Christmas Cactus Cuttings
- When you make cuttings, make sure each stem cutting has at least three joints. Allow the cuttings to stay in the sun for about three hours before inserting the cuttings into a pot with the same rooting medium as the mother plant.
- Water carefully and sparingly to avoid any incidence of rot. After that, water the plants the same way you would do to a big Christmas cactus. After about 4-6 weeks, the cutting should have developed and produced new foliage. Fertilize when the propagated cuttings grow to anew regrowth of one segment.
- Report within three years. Use a new soil or any other rooting medium when repotting your cactus. Always get a new bigger pot any time you’re repotting. If you think of repotting, March-April is the best time to do all that.
How often do you water Christmas cactus?
- Plan to water every 2-3 weeks, but only water when the top one third of soil feels dry to the touch.
- From spring through early fall, feed every 2 weeks with a balanced houseplant fertilizer.
- Prune plants in late spring to encourage branching and more flowers.
Do Christmas cactus need a lot of sun?
Do you water a Christmas cactus from the top or bottom?
How do you get a Christmas cactus to bloom?
When should you put a Christmas cactus in the dark?
In late September or early October, place the mature plant in a dark room or keep it covered (under a box or bag works fine) for at least 12 hours a day.
Do Christmas cactus like coffee grounds?
Can I water my Christmas cactus with coffee?
How long do Christmas cactus live?
How do you care for a Christmas cactus indoors?
Should I mist my Christmas cactus?
Instead of watering it like you would a traditional plant, you should be misting your cactus every day. A few squirts from a spray bottle is all you need to keep your cactus happy.