Christmas cactus

The Not So Secret But Highly Effective Tips & Tricks to Make Your Christmas Cactus Bloom

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The Christmas cactus is a flowering type of cactus that usually blooms during the wintertime. Hence, the name. For some gardeners, to see this plant grow flowers reminds them of the festive mood of the holiday season. 

Super exciting, I must say!

However, Christmas cactuses are not the easiest plants to grow. Even more so, bloom. 

So, in this article allow me to share with you some tips and tricks to help your Christmas cactuses grow flowers. These techniques are already tested and proven over the years by many gardeners. It did great wonders for them. And so, fingers crossed it might just work for you too!

What Are the Basic Care Needs of A Christmas Cactus?

 

Christmas Cactis

Well, before jumping into any form of intervention, you should know what are the basic needs of a Christmas cactus. 

Soil

The Christmas cactus is nothing like the cactuses you find in the deserts. This particular plant is actually an epiphytic plant. Meaning, it naturally thrives up above the ground like in the trees. 

Having said that, a potting medium that is rich and organic is likely the most suitable growing medium for Christmas cactuses. Natural matter such as peat and compost is a great base to start with. Moreover, adding components like sand or perlite can also help to improve the drainage and aeration of the potting mix.

Check out these products on Amazon:

Miracle-Gro Sphagnum Peat Moss

Espoma Organic Potting Mix

Mother Earth Perlite

Coarse Silica Sand

Water

Again, unlike the desert cactus, moisture is fairly essential to Christmas cactuses. It prefers to be watered more frequently and thoroughly. This is crucial especially during its active growth phase in Spring and Summer seasons. 

Nonetheless, you should also make sure to give the plant some time to dry down a bit between watering. Always see to it to avoid overwatering or leaving the soil too soggy. This can encourage the growth of unhealthy pathogens and cause root rotting

You can use a soil meter to help you conveniently keep track of the moisture levels. This simple device is equipped with sensors that you can poke down inside the potting mix to gauge how dry or wet the soil is. It is super inexpensive yet very helpful, particularly for inexperienced gardeners.

Check out these products on Amazon:

XLUX Soil Moisture Meter

Kensizer 3-in-1 Soil Tester

Luster Leaf Rapitest 4-in-1 Soil Tester

 

Light 

The Christmas cactus can live well in low to moderate light conditions. But, it will thrive best when placed under bright indirect lighting. This setting better encourages the plant to develop flowers.

However, make sure not to overdo sunlight exposure. Full sun can be way too intense for the plant to endure. It can cause burns and turn its leaf segments darker. 

Christmas cactus can be grown both indoors and outdoors. If you want to keep it au naturel in your garden, make sure to place them under a tree or a shaded canopy. This allows the plant to receive plenty of bright yet indirect sunlight.

When being grown indoors, it is best to place them near a north-facing window. This spot tends to give indirect lighting all day especially when it is not obstructed by any object. On the other hand, if your space, unfortunately, comes with poor lighting conditions. You can alleviate it by using artificial grow lights<span style=”font-weight: 400;”> to replace natural sunlight instead.

Check out these products on Amazon:

Ezorkas Dimmable Indoor Grow Light

Ankace Dimmable Grow Light With Timer

Ghodec 4-Head Full-Spectrum Grow Light With Stand

Container

The Christmas cactus loves to be pot-bound. It can live comfortably contained even in a small pot. However, after a few years or so, transferring it to a slightly bigger container would benefit it most. Upgrading to at least 1 to 2-inch larger pot size provides some wiggle room for the plant to grow and expand its root system.

Natural containers such as clay pots are one of the best choices for plants like Christmas cactus. The porousness of this material promotes good air circulation and moisture absorption. When choosing a container, just make sure it has at least one drainage hole. This allows the excess water to flow out thus preventing pooling at the bottom of the pot. 

Check out these products on Amazon:

Ehwine 4-inch Clay Pot With Saucer & Drainage Hole

Large Terra Cotta 6-Inch Clay Pot With Saucer & Drainage Hole

Yishang 8-inch Clay Pot With Saucer & Drainage Hole

Fertilizer

The Christmas cactus isn’t too particular when it comes to its feeding requirements. A balanced 20-20-20 NPK ratio should do it just fine. It is safest to keep the mixture diluted half-and-half with plain water. This minimizes the risk of over-fertilizing. More so, give your plant untoward chemical burns. 

Just remember to feed the cactus only during its active growth phase. So make sure to apply at least once or twice a month from spring to summer seasons. As summertime comes to an end, lie low giving fertilizers to encourage blooming.

Check out these products on Amazon:

Jack’s Classic All-Purpose Water Soluble Plant Food

Schultz All-Purpose Water Soluble Plant Food

Fertilome All-Purpose Water Soluble Plant Food

How to Make the Christmas Cactus Bloom?

Setting up your Christmas cactus to bloom requires a little bit more special treatment than its usual care routine. Remember, as the growth phase advances, so do its needs change as well. Here are some techniques you can do to help it bloom successfully.

Reduce Water

As mentioned,  the Christmas cactus loves to keep itself well hydrated within the spring to summer seasons. Water is essential to help the plant vigorously grow and develop. Thus, this phase is where growth spurts usually take place

Come fall season, the plant’s activities start to decline and so do its water requirements too. This happens usually between October leading up to early November. Watering should be done less frequently this time around. Water only when the top 1-inch of the potting mix already feels dry to touch. Doing so is enough to keep the plant just slightly moist.

Dormancy

After the active growth phase, a period of dormancy should follow. Dormancy is the state where plant growth ceases. This is a significant process as it somehow affects the flowering time of the cultivar. Hence, it becomes essential when you particularly want your Christmas cactus to bloom just in time for the holidays.

By controlling the uptake of water, you are triggering the plant to enter into dormancy. The intentional shortage in moisture prompts the cactus to halt its growth and conserve as much energy as it can. This is the plant’s natural way of maximizing its available resources. 

Lighting

Another method to force the plant to go dormant is by manipulating its light/dark cycle. Bright, indirect lighting during the daytime is all well and good for the Christmas cactus. But, the trick is more focused on giving the plant longer periods of darkness. 

At night, it needs at least 12 to 14 hours of total blackout. This allotted period of rest enables the plant to regulate its metabolism accordingly. It allows it to temporarily stop producing food through photosynthesis. Instead, it diverts the utilization of its stored energy towards bud development and flowering. 

Temperature

Alongside the darkness, the temperature should also be lowered down to help maintain a cool environment. A temperature between 50ºF to 55ºF is the most suitable setting to encourage blooming. 

Lower temperatures help to promote the development of the bud. It takes about 4 to 8 weeks for buds to appear. Then, it takes another 4 weeks or more for its flowers to bloom.

When setting the temperature, consistency is also crucial. Make sure to check the area for hot or cold air drafts. Its introduction into the grow space can alter and cause instability in the room temperature. 

Additional Tips for Success

Christmas cactus

  • Be precise

Giving the right amount at the right time will increase your chances of success in blooming the Christmas cactus. This can literally mean setting the right level of temperature along with the right duration of darkness.

 

  • Be consistent

Once the ideal environment is achieved, it is equally important as well to maintain stability all throughout the cycle. Inconsistencies and abrupt alterations can significantly disturb the process. Even worse, it can cause harm to the plant. 

 

  • Be patient

Success is never an overnight thing. Even if you have read all the guidelines in the world, your plant’s growth will always be unique in its own way. 

Wrapping Up

The bright red flowers of the Christmas cactus may always remind us of the joys and excitement of the holidays. But, as the saying goes, beautiful things come with a price. Yes, the Christmas cactus is pretty but blooming it can be quite challenging for some. 

So, we hope the practical yet effective tips we provided herein help you achieve your goal of making this plant bloom. It may be simple but, trust me, it is just what your Christmas cactus needs!

 

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