People often give and receive plants as holiday or hostess gifts this time of year. One of the most popular is the Christmas cactus. Normally at holiday time they are healthy and in full and beautiful bloom. This plant can live many years and bloom again seasonally with the right care.
Here are some tips to care for your Christmas cactus:
- Keep your Christmas cactus in a pot or container. Also, since it prefers to be root bound, do not plant it in too large of a pot.
- This plant does best in bright but indirect light.
- Soil should be well drained to prevent root rot. (The water should move through the soil relatively quick and not pool up).
- Keep the plant moist, but do not overwater.
- Fertilize every 2 months using a water soluble or slow release fertilizer between April to August.
- Provide this plant with a somewhat humid environment.
- Bring your Christmas cactus indoors if frost is in the weather forecast.
- Prune about a month after blooming. Don’t prune after mid-summer.
- Repot every 2 to 3 years.
- Keep away from drafts and heat sources like vents, fireplaces, and television sets.
To ensure that this plant blooms again, allow it to experience a state of dormancy. Here’s how to make that happen:
- Dormancy should last for about 6 to 8 weeks or until buds begin to develop.
- Beginning around mid-September keep your plant in darkness for about 12 to 14 hours a day.
- If the plant is exposed to artificial light, it will not produce flowers.
- The temperature should be around 50 to 60 degrees in this dark area.
- Cut down on watering during this time period. Water only when the top 1 inch of the soil becomes dry to the touch.
- Once buds develop, increase light and watering to normal levels and wait for blooming to occur.
These plants are a little trickier to care for when you’ve never had one before, but once you get the hang of them, they’re not so difficult. They come in many sizes and colors, and are beautiful whether they are in bloom or not. Also, they’re very easy to propagate, so you can grow as many of them as you like. You can even mix cuttings together for a new multi-colored plant! (A tip from my friend Sherry.) Try growing your own special hybrid and give them as holiday and Christmas gifts!!
Have you ever gifted a Christmas Cactus? Do you have one at home? In the comments below share any tips you have when it comes to caring for your Christmas Cactus. Send me pictures or tag us if you have a Christmas Cactus!
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