Be Creative,   Be Inspired,   Be Selective   |   M-F: 9-6,  Sat: 9-5    |   937-845-0093

Christmas Cactus Care

December 8, 2021


With Blooming cacti!

The Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Easter Cacti are easy and rewarding houseplants that will bring holiday cheer indoors once your outdoor gardens have been put to bed.  Their beautiful flowers, long bloom time, and easy care requirements make them wonderful plants. 

You can force your cactus into a colorful bloom by starting the dormancy process about eight weeks before you would like it to produce flowers.

Forcing Dormancy

In order to have your cactus on full display during the holiday season, start the dormancy cycle between the last week of October and the second week of November. To do this, cut back on moisture and reduce light and temperature. Only water the Christmas cactus when the soil feels dry, which is about an inch below the surface.

Pink Christmas Cactus
Christmas Cactus Care

Total Darkness

Do not fertilize the cactus during this time. Ensure that the plant receives 12-14 hours of total darkness at night, indirect light during the day, and average temperatures of 50-55 F.  One way to provide complete darkness for the 12 to 14 hours would be to cover the plant with a dark cloth or paper bag.

The Right Conditions

Exposing the plant to these conditions more directly will encourage buds to set, which helps secure beautiful holiday blooms. Mid to late September, simply place your cactus outside and plan to leave it there for 2-3 weeks. If frost is expected any given night, bring the plant undercover. Mid to late October, bring the plant back in and continue the usual care. By Thanksgiving, your plant will erupt with flowers that persist into Christmas!

Sensational Blooms

Once the cactus produces flower buds, it will then be time to move the cactus out of darkness to a bright window. Make sure your plant is not placed near any drafts or the cold will cause it to drop its buds. Expect your efforts to show a full display of flowers opening within a couple of weeks. Each flower will remain open for at least six or more days. Your Christmas cactus should remain in bloom for four to six weeks.

Christmas Cactus
White Christmas Cactus

Gift giving

Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Easter cactus are some of the easiest plants to propagate, which is why cuttings are often shared with friends and family as a new plant starts. After the parent plant is done blooming, identify a stem with three or more leaf sections and simply snap it off at the base. Stick the stem right back into moist potting mix, and it will soon root as a new baby plant. Voila, the gift that keeps on giving!

Caring for your Cactus

  • Plan to water every 2-3 weeks, but only water when the top one-third of soil feels dry to the touch. For example, if the plant is in 6 inches of soil, water when the top 2 inches feel dry. (Use your finger to check!)
  • When the soil is sufficiently dry, soak the soil until water runs through the pot’s drainage holes. Place a tray underneath the pot to catch the water. After 10-15 minutes, discard any excess water in the tray so that the pot doesn’t sit in water.
  • It’s especially important to water well while the plant is flowering.
  • From spring through early fall, feed every 2 weeks with a balanced houseplant fertilizer. During the fall and winter, feed the cactus monthly to encourage successful blooming.
  • Prune plants in late spring to encourage branching and more flowers. Simply cut off a few sections of each stem; the plant will branch from the wound.
  • If you wish, place the cut pieces in lightly moist potting soil—they root easily after a few weeks and make for excellent Christmas presents!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *