Add a burst of colour to your home over the holidays with a Christmas cactus.
This tropical plant is a succulent that grows in Brazil rainforests. The common name reflects the bloom period of the plant; vibrant flowers of pinks, reds and crisp white will appear over the holidays. For those who have furry family members, the ASPCA has listed Christmas cactus as non-toxic.
By following these tips, you’ll achieve blooms every year and have a plant that can live for decades.
The Key to Success: Proper Soil
Get your Christmas cactus off to a healthy start by planting into a container with Fafard Cactus & Succulent Potting Mix. Like all succulents and cacti, plant in a container with drainage holes because these plants will not tolerate soggy roots. Christmas cacti also like a well-fitted pot – they enjoy being pot bound. If it’s been 2-3 years and it’s time to repot, wait until after blooming. We prefer terracotta pots because these plants tend to be top-heavy.
Fertilizing your Christmas Cactus
After your Christmas cacti have finished blooming, fertilize every 2-3 weeks. Stop in mid-October (roughly one month before blooming season). A balanced 20-20-20 fertilizer will work well to encourage growth during the summer growing season.
Only water when the soil is dry to the touch. Watering can be done every 1-3 weeks, depending on how dry your home is and how much daily sunlight the plant received. This species is from the forest, so they don’t tolerate extreme drought, it’s best to water them when the soil is almost dry.
Christmas cactus benefit from going outside in the summer, especially when it’s humid. Place in a shady location that stays above 10 degrees Celsius. Keep out of the direct sun as it can burn the foliage (if you notice red spotting, it is getting too much sunlight). Once the temperatures start to drop, bring the plant inside and keep it in the dark room for 12-14 hours a day for 3-4 weeks. Buds should begin to appear.
Show off those blooms!
Once the buds turn to blooms, display the Christmas cactus in an area with indirect sunlight and away from cold or hot drafts. To boost humidity, you can place a humidifier in the area for a couple of hours a week.
Sudden change in sunlight, watering or severe drafts can cause bud drop on a Christmas cactus. Relocate if it’s near a draft, let the soil dry out, and move the plant to an area with less, or more, light.
To propagate, it’s as easy as taking cuttings from the plant, leave them in a cool, dry place for 2-4 days. Use a cactus soil and plant about an inch deep. Water lightly until roots or new growth develops. Slowly increase water as growth increases.
Read more about our favourite holiday houseplants.