Christmas cactus isn't just for Christmas. In my opinion, it is one of the best houseplants out there for all levels of gardeners. I received mine 10 years ago as a Christmas gift and it is one of the easiest, low maintenance, hard to kill and most rewarding houseplants out there. With minimal care, it can bloom 2-3 times throughout the year. Ready to learn how?
Are you familiar with the Christmas cactus? Since it is one of my favorite houseplants, I’m sharing all about Christmas cactus care and how to get a few sets of blooms throughout the year.
Christmas Cacti, aka Schlumbergera, is a small genus of cacti. It is a wonderful addition to any indoor space, propagates pretty easily and if cared for really well, can last a very long time! I’ve had mine for 10 years already and it’s still doing amazing.
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Christmas Cactus Care
While the name implies this plant will thrive in hot dry conditions and poor soil, they require a bit more attention than your average succulent.
In general, Christmas cacti require bright, indirect light or filtered light and enough moisture that the potting material does not dry out.
During the colder months, I keep mine in a west facing window in my living room and it lives in this spot every year.
When the danger of frost has passed, I bring it outside to summer on the deck. It stays under the roofline and gets watered when I water it.
If you move the Christmas cactus outdoors in summer, they need to be kept shaded or in a semi-shaded location.
Which is why I keep mine under the roofline.
If the Christmas Cactus gets too much sunlight, the leaves may turn red, burn the leaves or make them limp.
Mine seems very happy outside under the roofline.
When it’s time to bring the plants back in before the first frost, it is advisable to slowly adjust plants by gradually increasing the number of hours they spend indoors each day.
Do I do this?
I just bring mine in before the first frost and set it in my west facing window and it acclimates fine.
These plants like to be a little rootbound. When you first bring your plant home, it’s not necessary to repot it right away. I waited a bit to repot mine.
When you do eventually repot it, use a container only slightly larger than what it is currently growing in.
Christmas Cactus grow best in well-drained soil. Use a commercially packaged potting mix for succulent plants or mix your own by combining two parts plain potting soil with one part clean sand or vermiculite.
Water the Christmas cactus when the top 1-2″ of soil feels dry to the touch.
When to water will vary with the air temperature, amount of light, rate of growth and relative humidity of your home’s microclimate.
So what works for me, may not be the same for you.
For giving it the optimal care, test the soil for dryness using this method before watering.
You could also use this moisture testing meter. I haven’t used it before myself but I know others who have.
Where my houseplants are concerned, I lean towards under-watering as opposed to over-watering. This plant will let you know know when it’s thirsty because the foliage will start to pucker.
During the winter months, I water mine about every other week.
When it’s outside and blazing hot out, I probably keep it watered weekly.
But I always check the soil first.
Feeding Christmas Cactus So It Blooms
There is a lot of information out there that says it will only bloom once a year. I’ve had mine for 10 years now and my Christmas cactus blooms about 3x per year.
And here’s how I do it.
I start feeding mine in February with a slow-release fertilizer that will feed for a few months.
Since I live in Zone 6a, in New Jersey, our last frost date is mid-May. So I will feed it again in May.
I feed it again in early August.
And then allow it to go dormant.
My Christmas cactus blooms in May-Junish, August and November.
It’s just gorgeous when it’s in full bloom!
Growing Tip: Before I started regularly bringing my houseplants outside to summer, my Christmas Cactus did not bloom 2-3x per year – it was maybe more like 1-2x per year. It only started blooming more, once I started bringing it outdoors to summer.
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