Christmas Cactus Success!

I’m so cactus My Christmas Cactus had tones of blooms this year. I’m not sure exactly what I did differently so I asked my friend Patrick at Flowerland. He says it is likely something I did during the spring and summer when the plant is setting its buds.

Since I would like to repeat the plethora of blooms next year, I did a little research. It turns out this beautiful plant I own is not the traditional sun-worshiping, drought-hardy cactus that you would find in desert. It actually originated in Brazil. According to what I read, the growing season for a Christmas Cactus is April through September with temps between 70 degrees and 80 degrees. That explains much.

I’ve put the cactus outside the last two summers and this past summer was fairly mild compared to 2014. To get flowers to form, Christmas Cacti need 6 weeks of 8 to 10 hours of daylight plus 14 hours of night with nighttime temps of 68 degrees or better. Again, I’m thinking our mild September probably helped, too.

To keep this up, Patrick recommended I treat the cactus like a regular house plant during the winter months. That means letting the soil dry to the touch before watering but avoiding letting the soil totally dry out. (Most of us “kill our plants with kindness” in the winter by over-watering.) He also suggested I fertilize with a balanced fertilizer once a month from April through October and prune it in early summer to encourage new branches and more flowers.

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