Christmas cactus are beautiful winter flowering succulents. It is one of the more popular flowering plants around the holidays because it explodes with a profusion of tubular flowers that bloom two to four weeks around Christmas time. Their colours include pink, red, white, and salmon.
Their care is easy. When in bloom, provide them with very bright light but avoid direct sun. Keep the soil moderately moist but do not over water. Keep your Christmas cactus away from both heating sources and cold drafts.
- A Christmas Cactus will appreciate bright but indirect light. Keep the plant in a well-lit location away from direct sunlight. It is best to keep them in a normal house temperature range 65 to 80 degrees F.
- Provide a source of humidity if you live in a dry environment. Put a tray of water next to the plant so that the water evaporates and provides humidity. Or make a humidity tray by placing the pot on a waterproof saucer that is filled with gravel and halfway filled with water.
- Add fertilizer to assist plant growth. Plants that are actively growing should be given a blooming houseplant-type fertilizer. Generally they should be fertilized 2-4 times a year, but stop feeding about a month before the buds appear (usually by the end of October).
- Prune your Christmas cactus about a month after blooming. This will encourage the plant to branch out – Some people wait until March or so, when new growth begins, to prune the cactus.
Watering this plant can be a bit tricky as you need to take care not to overwater or underwater it:
- A Christmas cactus is a tropical cactus, not a desert cactus. Unlike most desert cacti, this variety cannot tolerate completely dry soil. If the soil gets too dry, the flowers buds will drop, and the plant will wilt. If the soil feels dry, it’s time to water.
- Too much watering will make the plant rot – less water is better than too much water.
- In autumn and winter the plants should be watered less frequently in order to promote blooming.
- Never water the top of the plant.
- A Christmas Cactus can be propagated by cutting off sections of the stem. Each section must consist of two or three joined segments.
- Allow each section to dry for a few hours before pushing them into a 3-inch pot that contains the same potting soil as the parent plant.
- Plant halfway down the first segment. Treat the cuttings as mature plants.
- In about four to six weeks, the cuttings should have rooted and will begin to show some new growth. They grow quickly, and should take in about two or three weeks.
- You can fertilize after cutting has grown one new segment.