Recently we told you the difference between different holiday cactus, this week we are going to share our top 6 tips for taking care of your plant now and in the future.
1. Bright Natural Light And Consistent Temperature
When it comes to lighting our Christmas Cacti need bright, natural light but not direct sunlight. If you keep your plant outdoors or even indoors keep it out of direct sunlight because this can burn the foliage of the plant. If the plant does not get enough light or if you have it in a low light environment you will cause the plant to have fewer blooms.
Since Christmas Cactus are not hardy if you have your plant outdoors during the summer make sure you bring it indoors once the temperatures start to cool down, right before it freezes. The ideal temperature for the plant is 65-75 degrees, with the cooler temperature being at night. During the time when the flower buds are set, it is best to have the temperature on the cooler side.
2. Check Water Weekly As The Plant Likes Humidity
Christmas Cacti are not like other cacti as they come from the rainforests of Brazil and normally grow attached to rocks or other plants, not in soil. They do not like to sit in wet soil, so if you water them and there is water in the dish under the container make sure you dump that water out of the dish. If they sit in water the plant will rot. How often you water the plant will depend on the growing conditions (temperature, size of the pot, and time of year). Check the soil every week and you probably will be watering it every 1 to 3 weeks. Let the soil dry out between waterings. When the plant is indoors water it 1 to 3 weeks.
Christmas Cactus prefers a humid environment. If you live in a humid climate you will be watering the plant less and if you are in a dry climate you will be watering the plant more. In a drier climate, you can create humidity by putting pebbles in the dish under your pot and leaving the drained water. The excess water in the dish will create humidity which helps the plant.
One of the biggest problems people have with their plant is they overwater it. This will stress the plant out. If you see your plant shriveling and wilting then you are most likely overwatering it. You can also experience branches of the plant falling off. To curb against this issue, make sure you let the soil dry out between waterings.
3. Use A Cactus Soil Mix
Cactus soil is a fast draining soil and this helps your plant because it will not be sitting in wet soil. Christmas Cactus does best when planted in a pot. The plant needs to be repotted every 2 to 3 years. The best time to replant your cactus is 2 to 3 months after the bloom cycle. This will typically be in the spring or early summer.
4. Don’t Forget To Fertilizer
The plant does not need to be fertilized a lot but during its growth period fertilizing the plant will encourage more growth. In the spring, when you notice new growth that is the time to fertilize. Fertilize the plant once a month through the summer. Do not fertilize the plant right before or during the bloom period. Use a fertilizer for cactus.
5. Help Your Plant Bloom
You can help your plant bloom by giving your plant longer periods of darkness, less water, and cooler temperatures. This process needs to be started 6 – 8 weeks before you expect the plant to bloom. At this time the plant needs to be put in a place for 12 – 14 hours of darkness per day and the temperature should be around 50 – 55 degrees. The other times of the day the plant can be in the natural light and the temperatures can be 50 – 65 degrees. If this is too much for you, find a place where the plant gets some uninterrupted darkness (keep it away from the yard or car lights). Once buds appear you can put it back to the location you want it displayed. Make sure the location you put the plant is not a drastic change in light and temperature or you could cause bud drop.
6. Prune Your Plant Yearly
If you like the shape of your plant, then just leave it. If your plant is unruly or you don’t like the shape then prune it. The best time to prune your plant is right after it blooms. Pruning helps your plant branch out, which causes the plant to grow more stems. When pruning, all you have to do is cut the plant between 2 leaf segments. You can use these leave segments to propagate new plants. Just let the leaves sit out for a few days and then put the leaves in a pot with cactus soil. Lightly mist the plant and in a couple of weeks, you will have roots on these cuttings.