Got any falling buds, red hues, or wilty stems? This popular houseplant is easy to care for, but as with any houseplant or gardening project, questions do come up. Here are all the answers to your Christmas cactus inquiries!
How Often Do You Water a Christmas Cactus?
Even though they’re called cacti, these plants are actually succulents. They don’t come from the desert either, but the jungles of Brazil. In other words, they need regular watering. Give them a thorough drink when the top inch of the soil is dry to touch. Spots on the limbs and weak or limp stems are signs of too much water. If you are giving them too little, you’ll see wilting, puckering leaves, as well as some leaf and bud drop.
Does a Christmas Cactus Need Sun?
Don’t be tricked by the name. Christmas cacti actually grow beneath the shade and dappled light of a jungle canopy, not in the full sun of a desert. How does that translate to a house in Edmonton? They like bright, indirect light. Take care to protect them from direct rays, especially in the spring and summer. In the winter, they can be closer to a window. If a Christmas cactus gets too much sun, you’ll notice a red tinge to its leaves, which is essentially a sunburn. The solution is to move them out of the direct sun.
Are Coffee Grounds Good for Christmas Cactus?
Coffee grounds are not a necessary ingredient for Christmas cactus care, but they can perk up the plant during its bloom time. The grounds give a boost of nitrogen and potassium and lower the acidity of their soil, which they like. Be careful not to overdo it!
When Should You Put a Christmas Cactus in the Dark?
Before they bloom in December, Christmas cacti need a 6-8 week period with at least 12-14 hours of darkness each night. In Edmonton, that’s never a problem. The long nights take care of that for us, but bright indoor lights or even street lights shining through the window can interrupt them. So move them to a room with the blinds closed, where they won’t be disturbed, or cover them overnight.
Christmas cacti also like cooler temperatures during their dark phase. Sticking them in a dark spot near a window is an easy way to take care of that, as long as they’re free from cold drafts.
Finally, they need less water during these 6-8 weeks. Remember to only water when the top inch of soil is dry. If they don’t bloom until January, don’t sweat it. The timing may be different with each plant, and blossoms in January can be a welcome gift.
What To Do With Christmas Cactus After It Blooms?
You can deadhead your Christmas cactus when it’s blooming to encourage more flowers. But after the show is over, they like a period of rest. You don’t have to do anything special. Just keep up their regular watering. In spring, you can fertilize and prune them into a better shape, if necessary.
What Month Do You Not Water Christmas Cactus?
Christmas cacti need water all year round. It’s only during their 6-8 weeks of darkness that their appetite for water slows down. But even during this time, they still need to be watered once the top inch of soil is dry. Keep in mind that these plants are sensitive to too much or too little water. Establish a regular routine, and watch for any spots or wilting, as described above.
Visit our greenhouse in Sherwood Park to pick your Christmas cactus up today!