Have you ever wondered “why isn’t my Christmas cactus blooming?” I’m sure you are, which is why I came up with a couple of excellent tips for you. In this article, you will find both the answers to that question and future advice regarding this aspect of plant care.
Like any other plant, the Christmas cactus requires certain conditions regarding light, watering, and temperature. Your initial task is to pay close attention to those if you want to admire those adorable flowers. You surely want it to grow and bloom in magnificent colors. Those different shades of bright red and pink go perfectly with its dark green leaves.
But, how to achieve so?
Check these sections there you will find out all there is about how to make Christmas cactus produce flowers. Here’s what you should do:
- Get to know your Schlumbergera
- Learn how to water it properly
- Make sure the lighting is adequate
- Create optimal temperature for your plant
- What not to do when trying to make your Christmas cactus to bloom
- Can Schlumbergera bloom more than once?
Get to know your Schlumbergera
Christmas cactus is also known as holiday cactus or Schlumbergera in Latin. It is a plant with flat dark-green stems and flowers that bloom at the end of the segments. Flowers have a tube shape with multiple layers of different shades of red and pink.
These cacti have flowers that usually bloom from mid-November to January. If the temperature is kept steady around 60°F, flowering can last for eight weeks or longer. Their blooming cycles are not set on a timer, so some may even bloom in February.
The general aspects of how to care for Christmas cactus entail regulating light, temperature, and water. They are all equally important for blooming of this cactus.
Before the blooming period, the soil should be fairly dry in October. But the next month you should resume with regular watering.
Similarly, the resting period between February and March requires less watering and an approximate temperature of 50°F. That should help the plant prepare for the next blooming.
It is vital that you keep this plant from direct light. So, always place it near windows or on shelves where it will get indirect light during the day, and about 12 -14 hours of darkness during the night.
If it is exposed to too much light, the leaves could dry out and become yellow. That could ultimately damage the plant.
As you probably know, this cactus is a tropical plant, native to Brazil. So keep the soil moist, but never too water-logged as the roots will rot. If your home is lacking humidity, add water to the pot tray from time to time. This way, you will create humidity for the plant or mist the leaves sometimes.
In case you need additional care for your cactus, add a mixture of one teaspoon of Epsom salts to one gallon of water. Add this fertilizer once a month from April to October.
Learn how to water it properly
Since it is a tropical plant, this cactus prefers more humidity and water than dessert-like conditions. However, this does not mean that you should go to extremes and water it every day. Stick around to see what does proper watering for Christmas cactus actually means.
The general rule for this holiday cactus is to water it once in 2-3 weeks. This means it can be irrigated only once or twice a month.
However, if you want to make it bloom you should stop watering it in October during its dormancy and resume watering in November. Also, when you water your cacti, only water the topsoil layer and not make the whole pot filled with water.
Because of over-watering, it is vital that you use the proper drainage. Usually, pots have holes that drain the water. However, you should create the right mixture of soil to be completely sure that all excess water will be drained.
You can do this by combining sterile compost with an equal quantity of perlite or milled peat. The latter two will aerate the soil mixture and allow the water to drain while the compost will retain all the necessary nutrients and moisture to support the cactus.
When you have provided the right pot size to your cactus with holes for drainage and the right soil mixture, you can water the plant as stated above.
Whether the regime of once in 2-3 weeks is too rare or too often for your plant, you can evaluate on your own by checking the soil every other week. Just put your finger in the soil for about an inch and see if it is dry or wet. If it is too wet, leave it to dry.
Finally, one last tip for watering your cactus is that sometimes it is better if you under-water it, rather than over-water it. If the soil is too dry, you can simply water the cactus. On the other hand, if you over-water it on more than one occasion, root rotting will completely damage your plant.
Naturally, watering is just one segment of your Christmas cactus care. In addition, you will have to keep an eye on the light the plant receives and the temperature that is surrounding it.
Make sure the lighting is adequate
This section will not only answer your question “how much light does a Christmas cactus need?” but it will also provide you with general tips and tricks regarding this aspect of care.
The general rule for Christmas cactus is to keep it on North or East-oriented window sills. But, naturally, if you don’t have such windows, you can put them on those facing other sides as well. In that case, you will have to adjust the light with curtains as excessive exposure to the sun can dry the plant.
When it comes to inducing blooming of your cactus, it is crucial for it to receive 12-14 hours a day of uninterrupted darkness in fall. This is a crucial aspect of care for this plant if you want to finally see the Christmas cactus flower.
If it receives indirect light during the day, it will not dry out. During night you should try to leave it somewhere where you will not be turning lights, as it needs darkness period as well. This especially goes from late September to early November.
If you do not have a dark place to put it, you can even put a cloth over it at around 6 or 7 PM and remove the cloth in the morning. But remember, you will have to do this approximately for six weeks before actually noticing some flower buds.
The buds will however need more time to develop, around 3 months. Obviously, this will too depend on the combination of factors in its surrounding. Just follow these steps and see how your plant will react. The next factor you should think about is the temperature surrounding your Christmas cactus.
Create optimal temperature for your plant
The best temperature you could provide for your Christmas cactus is around 50-55 degrees F. Anything below that temp will create damage to the cactus. This is why you should keep it indoors, best in rooms without heating.
This also means that you should keep it away from fireplaces and any sort of space heaters. Excesivelly dry air and heat may not only stop blooming but will also create leaf damages.
Naturally, it may be difficult for a lot of people to control the temperature, especially in the colder months. But, from mid-September to the end of October try to put your Christmas cactus somewhere where the temperature is around 50°F.
In this manner, you will falsely create a cooler temperature by the beginning of November and then let the plant enjoy real chill degrees in the holiday season where it will eventually start to bloom.
Moreover, remember to consider the light as well when pondering on where to put your cactus. Both must be well-thought-out at all times.
What not to do when trying to make your Christmas cactus to bloom
If you fail to position your plant in the right room, meaning the right temperature and lighting, and you do not follow rules regarding the watering, you could reduce the chances of blooming.
For this reason, follow this section to find out what might have happened in case you noticed issues with your Christmas cactus and you are wondering what mistakes you have made.
Are you adding too much water?
Even though this cactus does prefer tropical more than desert conditions, it can function better without excessive amounts of water. In other words, if you over-water it you can create great damage to it, like rotting of the roots.
If you are pretty busy but you do not want to neglect your cactus, you can always set a reminder once a month. This should alarm you to check the soil and see if it is time for watering Christmas cactus.
In October, you do not even have to bother with the reminder, as it is best to let it rest for a month before the blooming cycle.
Perhaps it receives too much light?
This is a common mistake anyone can make, but turning your lights at night can actually influence your plant and confuse it. Even though people differentiate between sunlight and artificial light, plants do not.
This is why you should put it in the right spot or move it in case you do not have any type of corners or shelves where it will not receive light at night.
If you want to induce the blooming cycle more efficiently, you will have to consider providing your cactus with at least 12 hours of darkness. These longer periods of darkness should be made between late September and early November.
Is it too hot for your plant?
As stated, your Christmas cactus will require a substantial fall in temperature in its passive stage, six-eight weeks before November. Moving the cactus to a north-facing window sill or near the door will help it with the right amount of coolness.
In case you notice that the plant is wilting, it could be due to the heat it gets in the room, so just try to place it somewhere cooler. Outside would be too extreme, as it does not prefer temperatures below 50 degrees F.
Can Schlumbergera bloom more than once?
This is a plant that can live up to several decades, so the answer to this question is a positive one. Not only can it bloom more in several decades, but also in one year.
If the conditions are suitable for the plant it will display its bright flowers on more than one occasion.
When put in the right spot in addition to the proper watering and fertilization, your cactus might bloom more times in one year. It does usually start to bloom in the holiday season, but sometimes it can also bloom in the spring.
The conditions are different in every home. If the surrounding circumstances are balanced, like light and darkness, or warmth and coldness, it will have a positive effect on the plant.
Your job is to firstly, make sure that it is located appropriately. If it is not, you can move it around till you find the right spot. Then, make sure it receives water at least once a month.
The nice part about having a Christmas cactus is that you can propagate the segments you cut out after pruning, so you can always create a new cactus and learn to care for it better.
As far as Christmas cactus blooming is concerned, some effort must be engaged as the plant needs your help in order to show some colors. When you get the hang of it, you will be gifted with beautiful flowers of bright pink, magenta, and red colors.
To sum it up- to make your Christmas cactus bloom, you have to reduce watering, especially in October, and place it in a cool spot with indirect lighting with 14 hours of darkness at night.
And if you follow all the steps right, you can expect your brightly colored flowers in the holiday season.
Have you got any special tricks for more frequent flowering?
I’d like to hear from you, so hit the comments section below!