Christmas cacti bloom just in time for the holidays (hence their name) and they're pretty too. The hanging branches, composed of glossy green, flat segments, can reach up to 3 feet long. Flowers in , , , , or appear at the tips and measure up to 3 inches long with several tiers of petals. Each lasts for several days, and the entire flowering period of most Schlumbergera cultivars span several weeks.
But certain factors can help (or hinder) your Christmas cactus's potential. This Brazilian coastal plant favors more humid conditions than desert-dwelling species, and needs extended periods of darkness before it can begin flowering.
Here's how to ensure this festive plant keeps brightening up your home year after year.
What You'll Need
How to Care for Christmas Cacti
Lack of water and dramatic temperature swings can cause flower buds to drop more rapidly. Maximize your specimen's blooming period by paying attention to these six key factors:
- Soil: Use a quality soil rich in and other nutrients.
- Temperature: Maintain an optimal climate of 65 degrees.
- Watering: Keep the soil evenly moist while blooming, misting frequently.
- Light: Place in an east-facing window for moderate light and some direct sun.
- Fertilization: Apply a every two weeks once buds form.
- Transplantation: Repot your cactus each year after flowering.
How to Encourage More Blooming
Keep plants cool (50 degrees) following theirperiod. Water to keep the soil barely moist and withhold fertilizer. When new growth appears, use the following strategy to encourage blooming: Keep the plants between 55 to 65 degrees, alternating 10 hours of light and 14 hours of total darkness for four to six weeks after new growth appears. When buds appear, introduce the plant to warmer temperatures and begin regular culture (described above). Plants should bloom in about six weeks.