Getting a Christmas Cactus to Bloom

You have a beautiful green Christmas cactus, but sadly, no blooms. This is a guide about getting a Christmas cactus to bloom.


April 28, 2008 Flag
9 found this helpful

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.

December 1, 20130 found this helpful

Obviously that works but what really works is rhododendron plant food. It is not expensive and it take so little (one forth teaspoon to a gallon water) that a small box lasts forever. It really makes the difference and the cactus will burst with blooms.

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December 1, 20130 found this helpful

I have half a cup of tea on my desk right now. I tend to neglect the Christmas Cactus when I am not watering the rest of the garden in the summer/fall. I will go give it a drink of tea right now, and send you this pic. Blooms right on time, every year. Location location location. :)

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December 1, 20130 found this helpful

This is a very old post but still good information.

Several asked about coffee with cream or sugar. "My" master gardener says to never give plants cream or milk products so I go with him on that.

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December 8, 20130 found this helpful

Do you use room temperature coffee or cold coffee on the cactus?

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Anonymous Flag
March 3, 20160 found this helpful

December 4, 2005 Flag
3 found this helpful

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.

At Home in the Forest

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.

Shy Bloomers

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.


General Growing Requirements

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.


Calendar of Care

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.

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December 4, 20050 found this helpful

If you put your cactus in a room with cooler temperatures for September and October. As soon as you see flower buds forming move it to a room with lots of light. Be sure that it doesn't get moved again until after it has finished. It also has to be root bound to flower. I cheat and start feeding mine a 15-30-50 fertilizer starting The end of October.

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December 5, 20050 found this helpful

I keep mine in my kitchen window year round. It has beautiful blooms right now. Just so full of beauty.

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October 15, 20130 found this helpful

I started adding Castor Oil several years ago & have had the most beautiful flowers! It pretty much blooms year round. As soon as one cycle of blooming is done, here comes another!

I don't do anything special...water it when it is dry, add plant food when I remember to. It sits in a south window & grows like crazy.

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December 6, 2007 Flag
2 found this helpful

How do I make my Christmas cactus bloom? Tips as posted from the ThrifyFun community. I had this problem for many years until my older neighbor told me that she got her Christmas cactus to bloom by placing one feed stick into the plant pot each month.


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September 24, 2011 Flag
2 found this helpful

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.

September 27, 20110 found this helpful

Deniaka is right. You should put it in the dark and barely water it. I would say it might take longer than 2 weeks though. Then when you bring it out to the light, water it good and put it in some really good light. You should have blooms, maybe not at Christmas, but blooms.

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September 29, 20110 found this helpful

My Christmas cactus blooms every year. I just put Jobe fertilizer sticks in around the 1st of Nov. I keep the soil moist. Feed it every couple of week with another 1 or 2 sticks. place it in bright defused sunlight area. There's blooms already starting by Thanksgiving. By Christmas it just blooming like crazy and will continue to bloom through January. :)

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September 29, 20110 found this helpful

This cactus also likes to be slightly root-bound before it will bloom, so don't pot it up into a bigger pot until the roots are literally waving at you from the bottom of the pot.

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March 26, 20120 found this helpful

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.

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Anonymous Flag
December 1, 20151 found this helpful

August 28, 2011 Flag
2 found this helpful

If you add 2 Tbsp. of castor oil around the roots of a Christmas cactus in October, it will bloom in December.

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January 13, 2012 Flag
0 found this helpful

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

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January 20, 20120 found this helpful

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:

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