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I have a 55+ year old Christmas Cactus that I got after my grandmother's death. It didn't do very well and didn't grow much and I was about to throw it away; then, I remembered seeing my grandmother pour whatever she was drinking on the cactus, (tea, coffee). I started giving the cactus a cup of coffee once a week and it has just exploded! It blooms twice a year and has grown by leaps and bounds. Try coffee!
By Liz from Birmingham, AL
Editor's Note: This works really well but make sure it is has no sugar or cream in it.
If your Christmas cactus blooms on the 4th of July, consider yourself lucky. Many people who grow them would settle for any blooms at all. If you're willing to follow a few simple rules, you can coax this shy cactus into blooming for you year after year-just in time for the holidays.
If you are already growing a Christmas (or Easter) Cactus, then you know they're not like other cacti. Even though they are succulents, they have much different requirements than their spine-covered cousins from the desert. That's because their natural habitat is actually in the forest-more specifically woodlands and jungles. In fact, they are actually referred to as Forest Cacti.
A typical forest cactus has leaf-like stems and a trailing growth habit that makes them suitable for hanging baskets. But their greatest feature is really their flowers. From creamy whites to vibrant reds and fuchsias, the flowers on some varieties get as big as saucers.
Unfortunately, unless you are able to meet their specific needs, Forest Cacti can be shy bloomers. If you want a good display ever year, you need to provide them with a cool, dry place to rest in the early spring, be careful not to move them an inch once buds appear, and allow stems to harden outdoor during the summer. To complicate things, each type also has specific needs.
From creamy whites to vibrant reds and fuchsias, the flowers on some varieties get as big as saucers.
Temperature: Ideally, Christmas Cacti prefer temperatures in the range or 55-70 degrees F. During their resting period, most prefer cooler temperatures of 50 to 55 degrees F.
Light: These plants need a well-lit location out of direct sunlight.
Food and Water: After a period of rest, watering should be increased when buds begin to form. During flowering and active growth, water and feed as you would most houseplants. Water liberally when soil starts to dry. Christmas cactus don't like hard water, so use rain water or filtered water if possible.
Humidity: Leaves need misting frequently.
Repotting: Christmas cacti benefit from annual repotting after they finish flowering.
Propagation: Christmas cacti root easily from cuttings. Take stem cuttings from a terminal stem tip in the summer. Allow it to cure for a few days before inserting in into a peat-based compost.
Mid-November through January: This is the normal flowering period. Water normally and maintain a minimum temperature of 55 degrees F.
February and March: This is the important period of rest. Move plant into cooler temperatures (50-55 degrees F.)
April and May: Resume normal feeding and watering. Water well when compost starts to dry out.
June through Mid-September: Set your Christmas cactus outdoors. Forest Cacti need a spell outdoors to harden their stems in order to produce next year's flower buds. Place cactus in a shady spot and protect it from snails and slugs by placing crushed eggshells (or other sharp material) around its base.
Mid-September through Mid-November: This is considered the pre-flowering period. Keep plants on the cooler, dryer side until you see flower buds form. Then increase water and temperature and leave it alone to flower.
By Ellen Brown
If you add 2 Tbsp. of castor oil around the roots of a Christmas cactus in October, it will bloom in December.
By Janette from Parkersburg, WV
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Here are questions related to Getting a Christmas Cactus to Bloom.
I started my plant from just a small clipping of a Christmas cactus about 1 1/2 year ago and it never bloomed. Now it's getting big and I am wondering if I should put it in a bigger pot and what can I do for it to bloom? The clipping I took it from was a big Christmas cactus from a friend of mine and it bloomed I think twice a year if I'm not mistaken.
By Madeleine from Gatineau, Qc.
By Karen H. 03/26/2012
These are all very helpful articles/answers to the problems of growing Christmas cactus. I bought 2 small ones at Christmas from Home Depot. A white one & a fuschia one. They had buds; but a few days later they all fell off!
Well, I was very disappointed & I had just given them Cactus plant food, (the liquid kind) with some water! They haven't done anything but sit there plain looking. Unfortunately, I've been over watering them (I just read to let them get dry & just give a little water)!
I just put them in the closet in a paper bag & covered it with a small piece of cardboard-loosely (they'll get air). I marked 8 weeks from today on the calendar to take them out (on May14th) & water with plant food.
I had previously put a plant stick in about a week ago, so I didn't do that before resting them. Hopefully I'll have blooms around Mothers Day or so & remember to only moisten them & (not drown them) again.
Wish me luck. I think these particular ones are supposed to bloom two times a year. I hope so. But whether they bloom or not; do I have to put them away to rest again 6-8 weeks before Nov. 1st for blooms again? Thanks for helping in advance.
After many years my Christmas cactus has decided to bloom. This is great, but it is only blooming one flower at a time. One blooms and then it dies. Then another blooms, then it dies, and so on. What's the trick to get them to bloom all at the same time?
My Christmas cactus bloomed a little at Christmas, a couple branches is all. Here it is the beginning of March and many of the branches are coming out with buds. Why? I have had a steady stream of blooms since Christmas, but only 4-5 blooms at a time.
I have two cacti and they are medium sized. They were blooming when I got them and had lots of buds. After the initial blooms faded I expected all the other buds to open, but they never did. They just dried up and fell off. The plant has continued to make more buds, but the same thing happens; they dry up and fall off. My plants get southern exposure and I water every two weeks. What can I do?
By Tara P
By Frugal Sunnie 01/20/2012
First thing, check the moisture content in the soil-too wet or too dry can cause bud drop in Christmas cactus. Usually this plant wants to have the soil dry out before watering again. When you do water it, move it to the sink or bathtub, water it throughly to moisten all of the soil, and let it drain for about an hour before taking back to its regular spot.
Now, about that regular spot-plenty of warm sunlight? Christmas cactus love the sunlight through a window all day.
And for some reason the plant seems to do best if pot-bound. At least mine always do.
Have a look at this link to see if you're providing the right environment for your plant: