Christmas cactus is an easy-care houseplant. It produces flowers that are red, yellow, pink, and white during the fall to winter holidays. Christmas cactus blooms mainly near the Christmas holidays which is why it is named so.
Similarly thanksgiving cactus is the variety of the same species “schlumbergera” that blooms approximately one month before the Christmas cactus.
These plants do not have true leaves, they have flattened segments on which the flowers bloom at the end of these segments. Unlike many cacti, they do not have thorns. The segment of the Christmas cactus feels to be round and fleshy.
How to get your Christmas cactus to bloom?
To bloom or not to bloom is the question that many Christmas cacti owners are asking. Interesting thing is, during the holidays the stores are flooded with Christmas cactus in the shades of pink, white, yellow, and red. It looks absolutely stunning and seems very difficult for plant lovers to keep their hands off them.
As said, it is an easier houseplant to grow, many people give it a shot. It is very easy to grow Christmas cactus at home. Here is the article that will help you to grow it in a container or pot at home.
The problem faced by the Christmas cactus planters is that the plant does not bloom properly or not at all. No sign of flowers is seen. To help this type of people, here is a list of things to do to bloom your Christmas cactus properly.
Plant needs a certain number of hours of darkness
To trigger blooming in the Christmas cactus plant, the nights should be 14 hours long and days between 6 to hours for at least 6 weeks. So the first point is getting the plant uninterrupted hours of total darkness at night. If you have any light in the same room where the plant is kept, you may need to cover your cactus or move it to the other dark place in the home.
These plants need evenings of complete darkness in fall in order to set flower buds. And for a darker place, you can keep your plant in a dark closet for 13-15 hours every night. And the next day place it back near the window for indirect sunlight for the day.
This process will take about 8 weeks to set buds on the plant. So count back 8 weeks from the time you want your plant to bloom flowers. Once the buds are set, the plant would be ready to keep in its normal place near the window and resume normal care.
Cool Temperatures At Night
The second most important factor that would help your plant to set buds is cool temperatures at night. The plant requires a cool location where the temperature is between 50 and 55 degrees Fahrenheit.
You can prefer a chilly cold closet for the nighttime and a north-facing window in the daytime to give your plant the temperature that is required. Any drop in the temperature would be useful in the process of setting buds on the plant.
Moreover, you can place the plant outside in the dark for the winter night. And you can kickstart the process of budding by exposing your plant to temperatures of about 45 degrees.
Do not keep the plant drenched in the water regularly. Being a tropical naive the plant needs more water than other cactus plants but it does not mean keeping its feet wet all the time. Supply an adequate amount of water only when the soil feels dry to the touch. You can check that by placing your finger in the soil for about an inch, if the soil feels dry, it needs water. Otherwise, avoid overwatering. It could harm the plant.
Stop any kind of fertilizer application to the plant. Christmas cactus requires fertilizer during the summer season. There is no need of fertilizing the plant in the fall.
To mimic the shorter days and long cold nights, you need to keep the plant in a dark place for 13-15 hours. During the day, you can expose the plant to bright indirect light for about 5-6 hours. But for two-thirds of the day, it needs complete darkness to set buds. Hence withholding and controlling the amount of light the plant receives will get you good results in 6-8 weeks.