Hello! We hope you’re doing well this chilly, wintery, week here in Minnesota. It really feels January here, in Anoka. We always feel lucky since, around this time of year, the Tulips, and Gladiolas start coming into the shop and those flowers do a great job in helping us to feel a bit more springy. 🙂 (See below if you want to feel it, too.) Plus, for whatever reason, they help speed up winter a bit for us. Despite all of that though–we’re taking this blog to regress a bit–all the way back to the Christmas Cactus. Both Poinsettia’s, and Christmas Cactus, make a great Christmas gifts; however, in mid-January, you may still have one of those plants sitting around the house–still looking beautiful. It’s hard, for us anyway, to want to throw away something that still looks so fresh; so, we decided not to. 🙂 The other day, we posted about Poinsettia care, and, today…it’s all about Christmas Cactus care.
If you are interested in keeping your Christmas Cactus around, and, hopefully getting it to re-bloom…give these tips a try…
Christmas Cactus’s, for the most part, need direct light. They like to be in a bright area. During the summer they can be placed outside; however, when outside, they should be placed in a shadier area–as direct sun can burn them.
Christmas Cactus’s aren’t true cactus–though their leaves can hold a decent amount of water. Unlike a more ‘true’ cactus, the Christmas Cactus needs to be watered more frequently. During the holiday months, as a general rule–water the top half of the soil when it feels dry to the touch. During the summer, you should water the plant to keep its soil continuously moist. During the early fall, water it only enough to prevent wilting. (The drier soil actually prompts the blooming cycle.) During the month of October–don’t water. In November, slowly resume watering the plant. If you live in a drier area (like up here in Minnesota), placing your cactus pot on a bed of stones, and keeping water under the stones, will help to keep the plant moist. (They’re native to the jungles of South America–they do love a little humidity.)
Not much is needed here, at all. In the spring–as new growth appears, give it a weak mix of liquid houseplant fertilizer.
Again, not much needed here. Every two-three years is ideal for a transplant. The best time of the year to do it is in the spring; however, any time is just fine if the plant needs it for health reasons.
Common Causes of Bud Dropping:
If all of these steps are taken, throughout the year, there’s a great chance you will end up with gorgeous blooms again in the winter. However, an incredibly frustrating thing can happen…JUST when you think your cactus is ready to bloom, the buds start to drop. If that happens, typically one, or a few things, may have occurred. Over watering may have happened which may be difficult to correct during the season–but can be rectified for the next year. Other common, more immediately correctable causes, are that your plant may be too close to a cold draft, the soil may be lacking potash (aka: fertilizer forms, of the element potassium), or it may be too close to a radiator, or heat source.
Here is a handy, breakdown, of monthly care if you’re going for blooms during the Holidays:
A general breakdown of a year, in the life, of the Christmas Cactus:
December – January: If all goes right, the plant will be flowering.
February – March: Resting (55 degrees, infrequent watering).
April – May: Water thoroughly when potting mix begins to dry out.
June – August: Place outdoors, or on the patio, in a shady spot.
September – October: Reintroduce indoor sun as the plant prepares to flower. Reduce length daylight hours. Keep on the dry side and cool (55 to 60 degrees F) until flower buds form. Then increase water and temperature.
November – December: Again, if all went well it should be flowering. Water normally. Temperature no less than 55 degrees F.
If you’re looking for more, in-depth, care tips please refer to this guide. (Much of this information has been gathered from their clear, easy-to-follow PDF.)
As always, if you’re looking for something specific, let us know! We love to help
Oh. As promised…a tiny, taste of Spring…