How do I care for my Christmas cactus?

Answer

Schlumbergera bridgesii - Christmas cactus

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 require plentiful watering, they must not be permitted to get waterlogged, again toss drained water after 15 minutes.

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 up 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:

Since flowering is related to day length and night temperature, the Christmas cactus can be coaxed into bloom. If the plant is kept outdoors for the summer, the cool night temperatures (50° to 55°F) of early fall will usually force buds to set before you bring it indoors. On those plants kept indoors, flower buds will form if the night temperature is maintained at 50° to 55°F. If the temperature is between 55° and 70°F, 13 hours of uninterrupted darkness will produce buds. In order to accomplish the dark periods, cover the plants with a black cloth during the night from 6pm to 7am daily. If the temperature is over 70°F, placing the plant in a totally dark closet is another way to induce flowering; in this case, the darkness must be maintained for 6 to 9 weeks.


- Courtesy of NYBG Plant Information Service

 

  • Last Updated Dec 14, 2022
  • Views 303
  • Answered By Anita Finkle

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