The Q&A Archives: Christmas Cactus

Question: I recently started a Christmas Cactus from some clippings from my Grandmother's 60 yr plus plant.
I have been following the instructions for soil, light and water that I have found on the web.
I started the clippings in October and now in January I am getting a lot of new growth / leaves.
The information that I have come across states that the plants should be in a resting state for January.

Is there a certain time of the year that it should having new growth take place?
If so when, and if I have upset the plants time table is there anyway to get it back on track?

Answer: Since you've just started a new plant, you should be pleased that it's producing leaves. Don't worry about new growth in a normally dormant time period, your plant will get into the swing of things as it matures.

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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