Hello new Christmas Cactus owner! Congratulations on your recent family addition of your new plant. Do you remember seeing a big healthy Christmas Cactus at your Grandparents’ house, or maybe your mom or dad had one? Do you want to blow your family and friends minds with the healthiest Christmas Cactus they’ve ever seen (and get all the praise for how green your thumb is)?! You came to the right blog.
Let’s first cover the basic care of a Christmas Cactus. Hey, they’re pretty darn easy (but don’t worry, I won’t tell your family, it’ll be our secret). One thing to remember is they don’t really like cactus conditions! Ha! Isn’t that funny? So if you have a cactus, don’t treat your Christmas Cactus the same way.
Christmas Cactuses like less light then other Cacti (btw: Cacti is the plural word for Cactus so I don’t have to say Cactuses). They prefer a bright location, but not direct light. Too much light will cause them to turn yellow and burn their leaves a bit – (houses with north and east facing windows – you have the p.e.r.f.e.c.t. home for these babies).
Watering. These guys like to be moist in the spring and summer, and they like to dry out between watering in the fall and winter. They do not like wet feet (roots). And yes, moist is totally different than wet. How? It’s like putting lotion on your hands or feet. Think of how your hands and feet feel after applying a lovely cream: nice and moist. Compare that to when you stick your hands and feet in a bucket of water. That’s wet!
One other quick thing to mention is that Christmas Cactuses do like humidity. So if you’re located in (let’s just say) Northern Alberta, having a pebble tray under your planter is a great idea. A pebble tray is made from rocks on a tray that you add water to. This water can evaporate and give your plant humidity.
So the thing to know about Christmas Cactuses is that they can be tricked. Whatttttt???? Yep, you can trick a Christmas Cactus to bloom. They’re a type of plant that reacts to the amount of light/dark they get (this is called photoperiordism) and to temperature.
You can trick a Christmas Cactus into blooming three ways:
- Keep them at a constant temperature of 15C; or
- Keep them under short day conditions (less than 12 hours of light) at 16-24C (flower buds will begin to form after 3 weeks of doing this); or
- Let the buds form naturally when our daylight levels drop (here in High Prairie, we have less then 12 hours of natural light by the beginning of October).
Congratulations! You’ll now be asked for advice on how to grow such amazing Christmas Cactuses by friends and family (because yours will be so healthy and happy!)
So, now that you know how to care for, and trick a Christmas Cactus into blooming, you’ll be able to share your secrets of success with all your friends and family!
Source: Ball Redbook Volume 2: Crop Production. Pages 676-678.