It is hard to resist purchasing those beautiful Christmas Cactus when they are in full bloom. They make a great holiday addition to our own home, and make great holiday gifts for other people’s homes.
But what do we do with them after they are finished blooming for the season? The people that like a challenge will keep their Christmas cactus and try to get it to bloom again next year for Christmas.
If you have already have Christmas cactus, now is the time to be putting it in a dark closet each night. Starting around mid-October till the first of November, Christmas cactus must receive 12 hours of uninterrupted darkness. Continue giving your cactus the dark treatment for 6-8 weeks, or until you see buds beginning to form.
Another method you can use to ensure holiday blooms on your Christmas cactus is by giving it the cold treatment-beginning the first part of November, place your cactus in a draft free spot in which the temperature remains a constant 50-55 degrees.
After the buds have formed, by using either the dark treatment or cold treatment, carefully chose the location for your plant. Place your Christmas cactus in a sunny, draft free, indoor location. While the plant will adapt to a low light location, remember the more light it receives, the more blooms it will produce.
Direct sunlight will cause the plant to become limp, an east or west facing window is the best light location. Drafts or extreme temperatures will cause the plant to drop it’s buds before they have a chance to open.
Feeding your Christmas cactus while it is in bloom is not necessary, but if you chose too, any water soluble all purpose houseplant food will work fine. Even though this is a cacti, it still needs water. Water your Christmas cactus when the top inch of soil feels dry to the touch.
Watering will vary in time length, depending on the amount of light the plant receives, the temperature, rate of growth and humidity. If your plant dries out too quickly or becomes limp between watering, you need to repot your plant in a bigger pot.
Christmas cactus will bloom between November and March. When the plant is done blooming, prune your plant by cutting or pinching off any straggly growth. The pieces you remove can be propagated into a new plant by placing the pieces in moist vermiculite.
The Christmas cactus can be kept outside during the summer months, just place it in a semi-shady location, and provide it with regular cacti care of watering and feeding. Start the dark treatment or cold treatment again next fall for beautiful blooms at Christmas.