Should I fertilize my Christmas cactus while it is bloomin
Discover the care and bloom cycle of the beloved Christmas cactus, a beloved holiday plant.
The Christmas cactus, a succulent plant native to the tropics, is a popular holiday plant. To bloom in time for Christmas, it requires extended darkness for at least four weeks. Propagating and planting a mature Christmas cactus from an existing plant is simple, but it requires a strict fall regimen, similar to the poinsettia. The steps below will guide you through propagating and planting a Christmas cactus and encouraging its bloom during the holiday season.
Step 1: Take a Cutting
To propagate and plant a Christmas cactus, start with a mature plant after blooming and take a section of up to five segments from the stem. Place the section in a cool, dry place for a few days.
do you know: How to grow Christmas cactus from cuttings in water?
Step 2: Plant the Christmas Cactus
A Christmas cactus is a unique and beautiful plant that can be grown in a variety of conditions. To ensure proper growth, plant the cactus in a potting mix of sand and peat moss, water it well, secure a plastic bag over it, and provide bright light but avoid direct sunlight. After a few weeks, roots should develop, and the young plant can be fed with a diluted fertilizer solution.
Step 3: Move the Mature Cactus to a Dark Location
In late September or early October, place the mature plant in a dark room or cover it for at least 12 hours daily.
Step 4: Move the Mature Plant Back Into the Sunlight
When the tiny buds appear (after three to four weeks), the light/dark schedule can cease.
Step 5: Regulate the Temperature
As the buds get bigger, move the plant to where it will be displayed. Avoid extreme light or temperature changes, which can cause the unopened blossoms to drop. During this period, the Christmas cactus will do best in temperatures ranging from 60 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit.
Step 6: Maintain Watering
To prevent wilting, water the plant only when the soil is dry. Place the plant on a tray of pebbles to collect humidity, but don’t let it sit in water. After budding, maintain soil moisture throughout the container, but don’t fertilize during the blooming period.
Step 7: Begin Feeding the Christmas Cactus
To maintain a Christmas cactus plant, fertilize it every month after blooming, starting with new growth at the end of winter or the first of spring. Use a diluted plant food and a magnesium sulfate solution, but don’t apply the same week you add the plant food.
General Tips for Growing a Christmas Cactus
- Keep the plant pot-bound in sandy soil.
- Water only when the soil is completely dry.
- Provide some humidity to the environment.
- Don’t worry if some of the buds drop off — it’s natural for the plant to lose a few.
- Keep the temperature above 70 degrees Fahrenheit in the daytime and from 55 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit at night.
The bloom time of a plant may vary depending on its variety, and despite not being on time for the holidays, it still provides a delightful treat to enjoy.
Yearly Plant-Care Schedule for a Christmas Cactus
- Spring: Fertilize after flowering.
- Summer: Move outdoors to a shady area. Maintain water and fertilizer while the plant is actively growing. You can encourage flowering by stopping fertilizer application at the end of summer.
- Fall: Move indoors before the first frost. Maintain drier soil. Start the budding regimen above in September or early October.
- Winter: Put the plant in a location where it will get four to six hours of indirect sunlight. Keep the soil moist and don’t let the air get too dry.
Avoiding Problems With Christmas Cactus Health
To ensure proper plant growth, follow the correct light/dark schedule, avoid excessive watering, and avoid watering too little. Watering too much can cause stem and root rot, while too little can cause wilting. Ensure the plant gets enough indirect sunlight but avoid direct sunlight, as too little can cause wilting and direct sunlight can burn leaves. Avoid direct heat sources like fireplaces or heating vents.
Guide To Christmas Cactus Feeding – Best Fertilizer For Christmas Cacti
Christmas cacti, a popular gift for the winter holidays, are a type of Schlumbergera blooming cacti that typically bloom during certain holidays like Easter and Thanksgiving. However, ensuring they return to bloom the following year can be challenging. To ensure brightly colored tubular blooms, it’s essential to fertilize Christmas cacti at the right time, as this can help maintain their vibrant appearance. This can be achieved by using the best fertilizer for Christmas cacti.
Christmas Cactus Fertilizer Requirements
Christmas cacti, native to Brazil, are easy-to-care-for epiphytes that produce trailing stems and beautiful flowers. They thrive in indirect light, well-draining soil, and average moisture. Feeding them monthly during the growing season, typically April through October, helps them form buds and bloom in time for Christmas. The best fertilizer for Christmas cacti is available at Gardening Know How.
If you don’t want to keep your cacti gift, fertilizing it isn’t necessary. The soil will release its nutrients, and the plant will starve to death. However, adding new soil and houseplant food can help revive a lethargic cactus, but timing is crucial.
Christmas cactus set buds in fall during cooler days with shorter daylight hours, requiring 12 hours of darkness to push out buds. Fertilizing during spring and summer allows the plant to produce healthy growth and store energy for buds. Once autumn arrives, darker periods, cooler temperatures, reduced water, and no additional food drive the plant to form brilliant hot pink to red flowers.
What is a good fertilizer? Christmas cactus fertilizer
How to Feed a Christmas Cactus
For Christmas cactus, use a bloom formula houseplant fertilizer or a half-strength water soluble formula. Feed monthly during regular watering from late winter to late summer. Alternatively, use a time release balanced plant food or a slightly higher phosphorus one per month in mid to late summer to enhance flowering.
To maintain the growth of Christmas cactus, fertilize them monthly with Epsom salts water on alternate weeks. This will meet their high magnesium needs, and stop fertilizing in late summer to avoid potential flower production issues. Winter fertilization is unnecessary as the plant is not actively growing.
To prevent salt buildup in soil, follow application rates on formulas carefully. If heavy salts are concerned, set the plant in the shower and drench the soil to release stored salt. Allow the pot to drain and the planting medium to dry before watering anew.
General Care for Christmas Cactus
Christmas cactus require regular repotting, but a mixture of half potting soil and half sand or perlite is sufficient. They prefer a crowded environment, so repotting isn’t necessary. The best fertilizer for these plants is a mixture of potting soil and sand or perlite.