Q: How do I care for my Christmas cactus?
A: These colorful holiday plants are actually succulents, not cacti.
Keep the soil moist, but not soggy, while they’re in bloom. If the stems start to look flabby, you’re probably over-watering. Christmas cacti like warm temperatures, bright light (but not direct sun), and well-drained soil. When the blooms are finished, keep the plants in a cool room, around 50 degrees, and reduce watering to a minimum. When new buds appear, resume watering and fertilizing, and move the plants back to a warm spot. If the buds drop, your cactus may have been exposed to a draft or sudden temperature change, or you may have let it dry out too much.
Use a diluted liquid fertilizer every two weeks in spring or summer. It’s best to stop fertilizing in early September to allow for the buds to set. You may resume fertilization after the blooms have passed. Liquid fertilizers are water-soluble and work instantly, however, they are only effective for up to two weeks. A 10-10-10 fertilizer is fine, however we would suggest using one that you mix with water instead of using a granular slow release.
- Also known as the Crab Cactus and Holiday Cactus
- Flower in white, pink, yellow, orange, red or purple
- Originates from the coastal mountains of southeast Brazil
- Will bloom year after year and can be passed down through generations
- Will bloom if given long uninterrupted dark periods, about 12 hours each night
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