When to bring in Christmas cactus from outside?

When to bring in Christmas cactus from outside?

When to bring in Christmas cactus from outside?

This article provides tips and tricks for successful annual cactus reblooming.

The holiday season is a time for cacti, with grocery stores and plant nurseries filled with colorful displays. Many people have experienced or received holiday cacti during the past winter season. Michigan State University Extension horticulture educators and Ask Extension receive calls and emails about caring for these cacti after the holidays.

Home gardeners are preparing for the winter season, preparing their plants for blooming again. This time of year, particularly for holiday cacti, requires more involvement from the gardener to ensure their plants are flush with flowers.

Holiday cacti, commonly known as Christmas, Thanksgiving, crab, Easter, or holiday cactus, are hybrids of Schlumbergera, crossing different species to achieve desirable flower colors and habits. These commercially available Schlumbergera hybrids range from white to pink, red, salmon, soft purples, or lavender.

Where is the best place to keep a Christmas cactus?

Where is the best place to keep a Christmas cactus?

Cactus, native to southeast Brazil, thrive in shaded, high humidity habitats on trees or rocks. They prefer humus-rich soil and a “pot-bound” environment, similar to the conditions found in tropical or sub-tropical climates. Cactus plants are sensitive to dry conditions and direct sunlight, and prefer to be potted in a sheltered location, similar to the crook of a tree branch.

To ensure a holiday cactus thrives, mimic their natural habitat and provide bright, indirect light or filtered light. Grow them in west-, north-, and east-facing windows in the house, and ensure they receive enough moisture to prevent potting material from drying out.

Homemade fertilizer for Christmas cactus

Holiday cacti bloom in their tropical environment near the equator, where they receive less light and temperatures typically stay around 20-30 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the year. This climate allows them to adapt to the changing light levels and temperature patterns in their native region.

Adjusting the light and temperature in a holiday cactus’ environment can stimulate its bloom, thereby enhancing its flower bud production by controlling the amount of light it receives or lacks.

How to encourage Christmas cactus to sprout?

To encourage bud set, provide bright light, temperatures between 55-65 F, and 13 hours of continuous darkness daily. For winter flowers, start long nights in late September or October and continue for eight weeks. If light interrupts the darkness, the plant may drop its buds. Additionally, extreme temperature changes, such as a cold December day or a heating radiator near the plant’s location, can cause buds to drop.

To ensure 13 hours of continuous darkness daily for cactus plants, owners can use blackout curtains, blankets, closets, or boxes, and use smartphone calendar notifications to remind them to remove and replace the plant when needed.

After the plant has finished flowering, care for it like any other houseplant. Avoid soil wetness and dryness, and apply a balanced fertilizer like 10-10-10 monthly. Holiday cacti can be placed outside during summer but should avoid direct sunlight to prevent burns or reddish color. Bring them indoors when nighttime temperatures drop below 60 F. Reduce fertilizer and water application in the fall to force the plant to bloom in winter.

The color of a plant’s flowers may change next year due to variations in temperature during bud formation and growth. Lower temperatures can produce pink tones in white or yellow selections, while nutrients available to the plant can also affect the color.

Know more: How to grow Christmas cactus from cuttings in water?

Tips for Growing Christmas Cactus Outdoors

Christmas cactuses, popular houseplants with stunning flowers, can thrive in outdoor gardens, provided mild winters are maintained.

Schlumbergera genus perennials, native to tropical and subtropical forests, thrive in partial sun or shady gardens with moderate summer temperatures and mild winters.

When to stop watering Christmas cactus?

The plants are hardy only in USDA Zones 10 to 12, limiting year-round outdoor cultivation to frost-free regions.

These plants thrive in temperate areas, enjoying summers outdoors and delivering an easy and reliable bud set in fall.

Cacti are colorful, photoperiodical plants that flower during longer hours of darkness and cooler temperatures during the changing seasons.

The flowers are available in various colors, making them ideal for late autumn and early winter gardens or indoors during the holiday season.

Join us for a detailed explanation on growing Christmas cactus outdoors for tropical blooms in your garden or home this winter.

What You’ll Learn

  • Outdoor Schlumbergera Cultivation
  • Pruning and Maintenance
  • Container Care
  • Moving Inside Pots Out
  • Managing Pests and Disease
  • Quick Reference Growing Guide

How to Care for a Christmas Cactus: Bloom Cycle and Tips

Tools

  • Watering Can
  • Pruning Shears or Snips
  • Garden Gloves

Materials

  • Plant Food
  • Potting Mix
  • Pot
  • Plant Stand (Optional)

How to Plant a Christmas Cactus and Encourage Blooms

The Christmas cactus, a succulent plant from the tropics, requires a strict fall regimen to bloom in time for the holidays. To form flower buds, the plant needs extended darkness for at least four weeks. To propagate and plant a mature Christmas cactus from an existing plant, follow these steps:

1. Remove the existing plant from the ground.
2. Place the new plant in the new pot.
4. Water the plant regularly.

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.
christmas cactus

Christmas Cactus

When should I put my Christmas cactus outside?

To grow a Christmas cactus outside, plant it in a container or hanging basket in a cool climate, using a well-drained potting medium like potting soil, perlite, and orchid bark. For warmer climates, grow it in light shade or early morning sun, while in fall and winter, it should be in a sunnier location. Temperatures between 70 and 80 F. (21-27 C.) are ideal for growth, but be cautious of sudden changes in light and temperatures. Water the cactus when the soil is dry and avoid overwatering, especially during winter months. Regularly inspect for pests, such as mealybugs, aphids, scale, and mites, which can be removed with insecticidal soap spray or neem oil. Trim the cactus in early summer to promote full, bushy growth.

What temperature is too cold for a Christmas cactus?

It can be said that the Christmas cactus is hardy in zones 10 to 11 and should be wintered in hardy areas. Whenever the temperature drops below 50 degrees, bring your plant indoors to protect it during the colder weather.

What month should I put my Christmas cactus in the dark?

In late September or early October, place the holiday cactus in a dark room or keep it covered for at least 12 hours a day.

Christmas cactus flowering time

Flowering season(s) Autumn, Winter
Foliage season(s) Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter
Sunlight Partial shade
Soil type Loamy
Soil pH Neutral
Soil moisture Well-drained
Ultimate height Up to 60cm (2ft)
Ultimate spread Up to 60cm (2ft)
Time to ultimate height 3-4 years
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