Keep Your Christmas Cactus Blooming Year After Year

This beauty always makes a special appearance just for the holidays.

December 15, 2010
christmas cactus bloom
PHOTOGRAPH BY DUNE PRINTS/PETER HOLLOWAY/GETTY

These cacti have blooming periods corresponding to the holidays, hence their common name. The hanging branches measure from 12 to 36 inches long, composed of glossy green, flat segments. Flowers appear from stem tips, and measure from 1 to 3 inches long with several tiers of petals. Each bloom lasts for several days, and the entire blooming period spans several weeks.

Related: 3 Modern Alternatives To Poinsettias

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Growing Guide

Soil: Humusy mix.

Temperature: Day: 65 to 70 degrees. Night: 55 to 65 degrees.

Light: Moderate light, partial shade, and some direct sun in winter from eastern exposure.

Watering: Keep soil evenly moist. Mist frequently.

Fertilizing: Once flower buds form, apply a high-potassium fertilizer every 2 weeks.

Special Hint: Repot each year after flowering.

Pest + Disease Watch: Dropping buds result form drafts, sudden change in temperature, or when soil is allowed to dry out.

Continuing Care: Keep plants cool (50 degrees) following their blooming period. Keep 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 4 to 6 weeks after new growth appears. When buds appear, introduce to warmer temperature and begin regular culture (described in above growing guide). Plants should bloom in 6 weeks.

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