The Q&A Archives: Christmas Cactus Dropping Flowers

Question: I purchased a Christmas cactus from a home improvement store about 2 weeks ago. It has been blooming beautifully until 3 days ago. It has been suddenly dropping a lot of flowers and buds. What could cause this? It does seem to be sprouting some new buds, but even some of those are dropping. Any help would be appreciated.

Answer: It sounds as though the change in environment from the nursery to the store to your home has stressed your new Christmas cactus. Here are some basic hints on how to care for your plant: Christmas Cactus is a tropical plant that requires a highly organic soil mixture and lots of moisture. The plant likes bright light and average household temperatures. You can take your Christmas Cactus outdoors during the summer and fertilize it monthly with a diluted houseplant food. Then bring it back indoors at the end of September and provide total darkness for 16 hours each day so the plant can set flower buds. The easiest way to accomplish this is to place it in a bright room for 8 hours and then either put a box over it, or put it in a closet for 16 hours. It needs absolute darkness; even a short burst of daylight will retard the formation of flower buds. During this bud forcing period, keep the temperature between 60F and 70F, and do not fertilize the plant. In early December your Christmas Cactus can be brought into ordinary light and will bloom in a few weeks.

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