How to take care of Christmas Cactus

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How to take care of Christmas Cactus

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You are a succulent fan with an array of beautiful cacti, Aloe Vera, stone plants and whatnot. Definitely, you either already have a Christmas cactus or are planning to get one as soon as possible. That one every gardener and nature lover should have at home. You know it can be tricky when you are dealing with any new plant and the same goes for Christmas cactus.

Generally, people find it hard to schedule infrequent watering and providing the right feeding at the right time in the year. You will find some basic tips below so you can enjoy a blooming Christmas cactus. With patience and care, you can have a thriving succulent that you will be proud of.

 

Light Requirements

Christmas Cactus

Christmas Cactus | Click here to purchase

 

You must keep this succulent away from direct sunlight, vents and other heat sources. It’s a good idea to move the plant outdoors in an area of indirect sunlight in the summers. Direct light can cause growth problems and burn the leaves.

During fall, around mid-October, limit light exposure to 10 hours and allow the plant to remain in darkness (keep it in an unlit room) for 12 to 14 hours to allow a dormant stage. This dormancy encourages bud development.

Once the buds form, move the plant to an area of indirect sunlight to help it bloom.

 

Soil Conditions

Combine 3 parts potting soil and 1 part sand and use this potting combo for planting the succulent. You can also use one part potting soil, one part perlite and two parts peat moss as an option.

You need two planters, fill the larger of the two with small to medium sizes pebbles or rocks and then place the planter that contains your cactus on it. Your plant should at least be raised an inch or two on the bottom.

This plant needs feeding 2 to 4 times a year.

 

Humidity Levels

Christmas Cactus

Christmas Cactus | Click here to purchase

 

The Christmas cactus unlike other cacti requires above average humidity. You can place a saucer of water next to the plant to maintain humidity from 50% to 60%. Another method is to fill a container with gravel and half fill it with water. Place the cactus pot on it but ensure that the water itself does not reach the pot; otherwise the roots would rot because of too much water. Check the humidity levels with a humidity meter to be on the safe side.

 

Water Requirements

With succulents, especially cacti, a general rule of thumb is to water less than more. Overwatering causes more damage than infrequent watering. Still, Christmas cactus needs to be hydrated more than the average cactus, or otherwise the buds will drop. You can water the plant if the top inch of the soil is completely dry. You can water the soil directly or try the soaking method. Do mist the plant as it absorbs water through its leaves.

  • Fill the outer container with two inches of water and let the plant roots absorb water. Remove excess water after 12 hours to ensure the plant doesn’t develop root rot.
  • Water once a week if you are keeping it indoors or the weather is mild and humid.
  • Water two or three times a week outdoors or in warm or dry weathers.
  • Cut down on watering in fall and winter months.

Stop watering in October and water sparsely in November in case the soil is too dry (place the pot on a container of wet gravel if you haven’t used the double container) but do not saturate the soil with water as that can shock the plant and cause buds to drop.

Stop watering the plant when it’s blooming (Christmas time) and let it rest for 6 weeks. When you notice new buds growing then you can begin your watering as usual.

 

Temperature

Christmas Cactus

Christmas Cactus | Click here to purchase

 

In summers, the temperature can be from 65 to 75 degrees however cooler temperatures are necessary in the fall and winter months for blooming.

Christmas cactus is thermo periodic, which means it needs alternate warm and cool periods to trigger the growth and flowering responses of the plant. That means the plant buds need equal amounts of day and night length (no artificial light even) in mid-October for several weeks (6 to 8 weeks at least)

Temperature fluctuations can affect this succulent drastically. The temperature should be maintained around 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit and the plant should never be exposed to cold temperatures otherwise the buds will drop early on.

 

Summary

You would have to adjust the watering schedules and heat and light requirements by judging the condition of the plant. The buds drop because of insufficient humidity, light and overwatering so move the plant to another location, Increase humidity and cut down on water.

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