Now here’s a gift that is right to the point….ouch. Sorry for that one! Christmas Cactus are so named because they are a flower that blooms a tiny light red flower right around the Christmas season. Growing perennial Christmas Cactus Houseplants is very easy. Some say they thrive on neglect. Like other cacti, these plants can go weeks without water. However, this cactus is native to the forest of Brazil and is grown more like a tropical plant. Yet, like its cousin the desert cactus, it can go long periods without water. Also, it is important to encourage these plants to bloom. See our below section on “Forcing Christmas Cactus to Bloom”
Cactus are easy to care for and thrive well in the cool and dry conditions of your home during winter. Sure, your cactus plant can withstand long periods of dry weather and the soil need not be very wet. But, your plant will need water. The common belief is that cactus live in deserts filled with sand. In reality, cactus live in fringe areas. These plants appreciate a healthy level of compost or humus in the soil.
Christmas Cactus is one of the most popular holiday plants given as gifts.
Did you Know? Terrariums are enclosed indoor environments for tropical and subtropical houseplants. What are they called for cactus and other desert plants?
Give up? They are called Desertariums.
It is very easy to propagate Christmas Cactus houseplants. If you look closely, each leaf has tiny roots. Pull a leave off the mother plant. Be careful not to break these little roots off of the leaf. Place the leaf in a pot with rich houseplant soil. It is important to keep the surface of the soil mist as the leaf is rooting.
For several weeks all of the action is under the soil. The Christmas Cactus is growing its roots into the soil. Finally, after several weeks, you will see new leaves growing on top of the young cactus.
Growing Christmas Cactus houseplants is very easy.
Established, low-maintenance Christmas Cactus plants will grow well for years.
The plants grow best in indirect lighting. They like rich, loose soil that is well-draining.
The plants tolerate being root bound, and some people believe it actually helps to promote flower booming. However, as the plant continues to grow, you will need to occasionally repot ir.
Fertilize the plants every 2-3 months. You can use solid or liquid fertilizers.
Ideal Soil pH: 5.0 – 7.0.
Plant Problems – causes and cures
Getting your plants to bloom, and to do so during the Christmas season, can be difficult. Here are our tips for forcing Christmas Cactus to bloom:
First, the most important thing to do is to control sunlight and darkness. Place the plant in total darkness for 12 to 16 hours a day. Do this for 8 weeks or more. This is essential. Even turning on a light for a minute can disrupt the process.
Second, provide about 8 hours of indirect light. Do not expose the plant to direct sunlight while forcing it to bloom.
Next, Provide a cool environment. 50 to 55 degrees is best.
Next, reduce water levels. Allow the top of the soil to dry between waterings. Do not overwater. Overwatering can cause the buds to fall off.
Finally, do not use a fertilizer with high nitrogen levels during this time. A little extra phosphorous helps to promote blooms.