Q. How do I care for my Christmas cactus?
Scientific Name: Schlumbergera x buckleyi
Light Preference: Very bright light conditions with at least two hours of winter sun.
Watering: Water thoroughly when top half of soil feels completely dry. It is best to remove all excess water from the holding saucer after 15 minutes. Although actively growing plants reqire plentiful watering, they must not be permitted to get waterlogged.
Temperature: To encourage Christmas cactus to set buds in autumn, keep night temperature consistently between 45º and 55ºF. To prevent bud drop, avoid drafts and large temperature fluctuations, keep humidity high, and water correctly. Also, moving plants can cause buds to drop while they are forming.
Maintenance: Removal of spent flowers and stem tips after flowering promotes branching and more flowers.
Potting: Pot plants using a porous mixture. This can be accomplished by adding one part coarse sand or perlite to every three parts standard potting mix. Propagate by taking 3 to 4-inch stem cuttings in spring or summer. Remove a section of stem consisting of two or three joined segments, allow to dry for a few hours, and push the bottom segment gently into a 3-inch pot of the potting mixture. Insert the segment just deep enough to support the whole cutting. Several such cuttings may be inserted in a larger pot.
Special Points: Christmas cactus can be coaxed into bloom if night temperatures are kept cool (50-55ºF). If night temperature is 55-70ºF, 13 hours of uninterrupted darkness will help buds form. Cover plants with black cloth during the night to control light exposure.
For tips on a variety of gardening topics, see our Plant Information Guides.
- Courtesy of NYBG Plant Information Service
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