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I got my mother's Christmas plant just after she pasted away in March of 2010. The plant was doing great until I got it. I water it about once a week and give it plant food about once a month (Miracle Gro 24-8-16). Can someone help me with my dying cactus? If I am using the wrong plant food can I run it under water continuously to get the remaining plant food out? Please can you tell me what I should do. Thank you very much.
When I had a cactus plant, I used cactus food for it, rather than Miracle-Gro. I don't know if it's available everywhere, at the time, I lived in the desert Southwest, but it should be available online, if worse comes to worst.
I would also guess that you're really over watering your cactus. These plants are made to survive in the dry desert climate, there's only a "monsoon season" once a year, and some rain in the valleys if it snows heavily in the mountains. I hope someone else here will have more specific advice, but for the time being, stop watering the cactus. Then find out how much you really should water it, by researching online, or calling garden centers that sell cacti.
Hopefully, once you stop over watering the plant, and give it plant-specific nutrition, it will perk up and be healthy again. I can see why the plant is so important to you. I'm very sorry to hear of your loss.
If you can repot your Christmas cacti as I think you will find you have over watered it and the roots are probably starting to rot , pot it up again with new compost. Then leave it for a while about a month and then only a little, as already has been said Christmas cacti or any cacti for that matter only need watering infrequently! my inlaws always watered theirs with cold tea now and again.
In the spring when the weather warms up a bit I put mine outside in a shady spot and virtually forget about it until autumn then I bring it in and you will soon see buds forming, but once again neglect it it will repay you by flowering a couple of times, it is natural for them to have a long resting period before they flower again.
Cut some of the arms off of the plant and place in a clear glass jar in a sunny location. They will start to root this way and you will be able to start a new plant (or a lot of new plants!). The advise given was on-spot: these are cactus and only require a bit of water every-so-often.
I understand about having your mom's plant now that she's gone. I did the same thing after my mom passed away. With a Christmas cactus, as with any succulent or cactus, less is more. Don't water it unless it thoroughly dries out in between watering and then only enough to moisten the soil. And stop feeding it so often, too...they really thrive on neglect. I've had one for over five years that blooms profusely every year and sometimes I've forgotten to water it for a couple weeks at a time and I've never fed it. And I'd take the advice of putting it in a new pot and getting rid of all the soaked potting soil, too. Don't give up, I think your cactus will be just fine. :-)
I have a Christmas cactus that I got as a one-stalk cutting from my sister-in-law. I took it home and stuck it into a glass of water until roots grew. I planted it into some cactus-type soil and it grew. That was thirty five years ago!
Most people tend to over water them. These cacti are more of a forest type of plant, rather than a desert plant, but they like for the soil to be dry between waterings. Use plant food sparingly, about 1/4 tsp per gallon of water. They also like the summers outdoors in shade and the winters indoors in a dark area, a closet? Once removed from the dark area they will bloom. Continue watering as before. They require some unique techniques but the results are spectacular! Just don't over water them. As for removing the excess fertilizer, set the pot in the sink with the stopper in.
My Christmas cactus blooms, but is not growing taller or fuller. It is just staying the same size. How can I increase plant growth? What kind of fertilizer should I use?
Hardiness Zone: 6b
By gayle from Rochester, NY
Repot the cactus into a larger pot.
I use Schultz 10-15-10 Plant food plus. It is liquid, I mix about a Gal of water to 14 DROPS of the plant food. Water plants about every 2-3 weeks. Don't over water. GG Vi
I use Miracle Gro liquid fertilizer on my Christmas Cactus about once a month and not too much. I mix up a Tbsp. in a gallon of water and just put a small amount on each plant.
What causes Christmas and Thanksgiving cactus to sprout roots between leaf segments?
In their natural habitat, they grow on rocks and trees. Their aerial roots help the plant cling to its host. These roots help the plant reach for water and sunlight.
The aerial roots of the Christmas Cactus (Schlumbergera) appear when the plant is already a few years old. It is the signal that the root system of the plant is too old or failing because the roots may be dried or rotten. It is time to start breaking some of this segments with their aerial roots and to plant them in a new pot. The next step is usually that the leaves will become soft. In any case, do not water, do not fertilize, it is just that the plant is not getting enough "food" from its own roots and if the roots are already dried or are dying, they will not be able to transmit the water or the nutrients to the plant, they will rot and could rot the base of the plant.
After many years of regular blooming and growth my Christmas cactus has turned purple and droopy. It is in a large hanging pot in full shade and has done well for 6 years. What could be wrong?
By Irwin Friedman from Paso Robles, CA
Too much water, roots being bound or poor drainage. Take some of the root from the bottom of the plant off. Put your plant in a pail with a couple drops of dish soap and a touch of bleach. This removes dust, etc. Rinse and re-pot in new soil. The roots need room to travel in the pot. You would be amazed what this method does to a spider plant.
My Christmas cactus has lots of blooms but they are falling off before they bloom.
Hardiness Zone: 7b
By debbie from Orangeburg, NY
Have you moved it? Even turned it round? They don't like that much. Happy Christmas. Marg from England.
How do I care for a thin leaf hybrid Christmas cactus?
They like bright, indirect light and they need humidity if it's dry. They need well-draining soil and container. Fertilize 2-4 times a year with 20-20-20 fertilizer. Do not over or under-water. Stop watering around October
If buds drop, increase humidity/light. Lower the temperature to get it to bloom. Keep the plant in a dark room at night.
So I have been putting my Christmas cactus outside for a couple of years now in the spring and bring it in about now. It then blooms when I bring it in, too early for Christmas, but that is OK. So I go to bring it in now and it has already started blooming! So what do I do? If I bring it in it will kill the buds and I can't leave it out it will freeze!
In the last couple of years the weather in some areas has been changing. This has effected the blooming cycle of your cactus this year.
You will need to bring the cactus inside so it won't kill the plant during winter. This year you might lose a few bloom on the cactus, but it will save the life of your plant.
What causes buds to fall off a Christmas cactus without opening?
By Billie B from Garland, TX
The causes could be: turning the pot as the buds will try to bend to one side to receive more light and fall off, leaves with petiole can follow the light but buds have no petiole and will fall off.
Watering too soon. It is better to wait until the buds turn into flowers.
Or watering with cold water.
My Christmas cactus is wilted and the leaves are really flat. It got too much water so I transplanted it into fresh dry soil.
Even though they are cactus, they still need some water. If you transplanted into completely dry soil, it's probably thirsty!
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How do I care for my Christmas Cactus? Advice from the ThriftyFun community.
I have a Thanksgiving cactus that I have had for over 20 years, it is similar to a Christmas cactus. It is in a small ceramic pot. I keep it on my deck in the summertime and feed it with rose food. I bring it in in October and do not water until dry. It blooms at Thanksgiving time. I continue to feed with rose food until after it blooms. The blooms on mine are peach-colored. It is a beautiful sight at Thanksgiving.
Christmas Cactus love to be rootbound and watered infrequently. Always let the dirt dry completely out before watering, too much water will kill them. It will take some time to "recover" from being transplanted twice, but they are hearty and as long as you don't over water it should be fine.
By Judy Miller
"Watering seems to be the source of most problems with the Christmas cactus. The plant is a tropical type cactus and is not quite as drought tolerant as the name implies. However, it is a succulent plant and can store a reasonable quantity of water in the leaves. Water thoroughly when the top half of the soil in the pot feels dry to the touch. Discard the excess water, then do not water again until the top half becomes dry. The length of time between waterings will vary with the air temperature, amount of light, rate of growth and relative humidity.
After the blossoms fade, the plant isn't much to look at. But a little extra care will help bring it back to full bloom next year.
While the Christmas cactus can adapt to low light, more abundant blooms are produced on plants that have been exposed to high light intensity. Keep your plants in a sunny location indoors. Plants can be moved outdoors in summer, but keep them in a shady or semi-shady location. Too much direct sunlight can burn the leaves. When it's time to bring the plants back inside in the fall, slowly adjust the plants to life indoors by gradually increasing the number of hours they spend indoors each day.
Well-drained soil is a must for Christmas cactus. Use a commercially packaged potting mix for succulent plants or mix your own by combining two parts plain potting soil with one part clean sand or vermiculite.
Pruning your Christmas cactus after blooming will encourage the plant to branch out. Remove a few sections of each stem by pinching them off with your fingers or cutting with a sharp knife. These sections can be rooted in moist vermiculite to propagate new plants. Christmas cactus will bloom if given long uninterrupted dark periods. Begin the dark treatments in about mid-October to have plants in full bloom by the holidays. Christmas cactus will also bloom if they are subjected to cool temperatures of about 50 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit at night. Plants will be ready for the holidays if the cool treatments are started by early November."
My Christmas cactus is only 2 years old and is in an 8" pot. It blooms from the mid November on. Mine is still blooming.
The idea is once it starts to get buds on it, "don't move" it. They don't like to be moved when the budding starts. I water mine once a week it is in a well draining pot. I also give mine a shower once a month in the tub. That counts for a watering.
Do not fertilize in the spring. Fertilize once a month from summer to winter. When it starts to bloom, stop fertilizing it.
Good luck, it will survive I just know it.
They thrive when rootbound. Also, they like to dry out between waterings. They love to be outside in summer (northern climate) and brought in in fall, but be careful squirrels love to munch on them. Some called Christmas cactus are not, there are Thanksgiving and Easter cacti out there, also. They are all beautiful, but different.
I have grown several varieties of Christmas cactus for many years. I have a mother plant that is 40 years old and weighs over 200 lbs. I use clippings from that and create new ones with my other varieties to create different variations and colors. Some have double and triple blooms. Those are sometimes called mother-in-law cactus. They are all the same in essence. Mine bloom at Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc. except during the heat of summer unless you put them in a lightly shaded area. They do not require watering other than once a week. They love to have their soil loosened when transplanted. They hate being pot bound. Just remember when you transfer them to loosen soil, put in a larger pot. They will become bigger each time you transfer over years into larger pots, it's like creating mother plants. You can't make many more from those for propagation purposes.
Also, remember they do not direct sunlight in summer, that's when leaves will turn yellow some and may wilt. They are from the succulent family, hence don't like over watering. Soil will become moldy and you are inviting plant insects to feast on them. Also, always use a light soil fertile mix when transplanting and try and keep it loose every once and awhile. At this point, I would suggest that you take a clipping also from the plant. You do that by snapping off a piece or two where it is jointed. Put that in a clear container filled with water in a sunny spot until you see visible roots. Change water in container every once in a while. It really doesn't take long to root new ones. You can arrange them so they will begging to hang over nicely. They also like to have a hair cut when they become huge. You can make a ton of new plants from the clippings. Once they are rooted, just plant them in new pots by sticking the rooted part in soil.
Once you have established plants, there is a product called Bloom or Peter's that works on all kinds of blooming plants.
Post your own tips here.
I left the cactus outside all summer on a patio that received morning sunshine. I brought it in in late October before frost and placed it in a West window with partial shade. It was loaded with buds when I brought it in and I was careful to turn it to face the window on the same side that faced the sun outdoors. (12/06/2007)
I have two Christmas cactus and I water mine with my leftover coffee. They must like it because I have had two buds in the same place all over my cactus and they both bloom. (11/02/2009)
I have a Christmas Cactus that is 77 years old. It is huge. We moved and it got repotted about the same time and then didn't bloom for a couple of years. This year, 2017, it has had hundreds of blooms. Now I see that one section is hanging and looks wilted. From posts above I may have watered it too much, although for years I have watered it every Friday with a little Miracle Gro. It was a start from a neighbor to my dad when I was a little girl. It has been moved from Eastern Oregon to Central coastal Oregon to Utah and moved two more times since then. I do talk to it quite often and strange as it seems, it does better when we have that little talk. This year it did not bloom until April and has bloomed for about six weeks and is still covered with buds and blooms. I have given many, many starts away and enjoy doing that. Thanks for all the comments above.