Christmas Cactus Prep

Christmas CactusLong nights or cold temperatures trigger Christmas cactus to bloom. In mid-October, begin leaving your Christmas cactus in complete darkness for 12 full hours each night. Otherwise, keep caring for it normally, allowing the soil to dry just a bit between regular waterings. In six to eight weeks, buds should begin to form. 

Cool temperatures will also prompt Christmas cactus to bloom. Instead of giving the plant 12 hours of darkness each night, you could subject it to nighttime temperatures of 50 to 55˚F. This should begin in early November to trigger bloom in time for Christmas.

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18 thoughts on “Christmas Cactus Prep

  1. I have a Christmas cactus that has flat leaves and they are not shiny. I live in Tucson Arizona and it is in a hanging basket on my covered porch. I have always had it there and it has always done well, but we had two weeks of crazy cold weather this past Feb, and my plant died. I put another plant out in spring and it did well for a while, but now isn’t doing well. It seems to lose whole sections of leaves. I am watering as I always have but it isn’t working. Should I repot in new soil and feed? I am at a loss what to do. Should I let it sit in the sink and really soak up some water? I hate to lose it! Please help!!

  2. I was told to let the plants dry out once or twice during the summer. I put them in a shady spot and feed them a couple of times. Leaving them outside till the night temps are cool definitely helps them set buds. My Thanksgiving cactus blooms again at Easter time and my christmas one blooms throughout the winter months.

  3. I live in South West Wisconsin. I have found sites in the house that my plants like and I do not move them. Different sites do not receive the same amount of light but I do get reliable bloom from each plant. However, I do get slight differences in start of bloom, length of bloom and number of repeat blooming. All are close to windows but the windows face different directions. Only one location – in the kitchen – receives significant artificial light. I get the longest and most repeat bloom from the plant sitting at the side of a sliding patio door upstairs and facing east. It starts blooming around October and continually repeats with only short breaks in between each until May or June. I water regular in small amounts all summer then increase the water as it sets buds and throughout the blooming cycle. I find the natural change in light and temperature seem to be enough. It is not the temperature so much as the difference in temperature between night and day that is important. More important seems to be the watering. I have had other people ask me why their plants don’t bloom and with one look at their plant I know the problem. The leaves are a dull green and flat in thickness – Not Enough Water. The most important thing to remember these are NOT cactus. They are a tropical plant and want water but do not like to be drowned. Let them dry out between waterings, water well but do not allow the pot to sit in water. If the plant is getting sufficient water the leaves are plump and a shiny green. Mine will put on new leaves August/September before going into bloom. Actually because of the timing of the new leaves just before bloom time I often do not notice the formation of buds right away – I will mistake the nub of bud for more new leave forming. Suddenly I will realize that I am seeing fat round buds and not tiny flat leaves.

  4. REMEMBER, there is a difference between Christmas and Thanksgiving Cactus, which I find few people are aware of. The look of the leaves is the key here and also the blooming time.

  5. I put my catcus in the sink and give it a good shower. I do it about every 3 months. It will start getting blooms in 2-3 weeks.
    This year it has bloomed twice already. Once a year I give it a tiny bit of miracle grow. It blooms for quite a while once it gets the first blooms.

    • I live in North Alabama. I leave my Christmas Cactus outside until first frost is predicted…..usually late October. By the time I bring them in, they are already setting buds. They bloom for Thanksgiving and blooms are gone by Christmas. I would like for them to bloom at Christmas. Any suggestions?

    • I do the same thing, and have lovely blooms for tut holidays. I live in the DC Metropolitan area. I put them outside around Labor Day, nights start getting cooler. That’s good advice.

    • I live in central Minnesota where we’ve already had our first really hard frost. Leaving our tender plants outside until first frost will indeed lead to nice blooms… but……. where we’re from, those blooms won’t time out right for Christmas. So I appreciate the advice in this article.

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