The Q&A Archives: Cactus Leaves Shriveling

Question: How can I know what I am doing wrong with my rhipsalidopsis cactus? About this time of year the leaves start to shrivel. I have them in the shade on the east side of my house. I let them dry between waterings. I even have a meter to accurately test for moisture. Please help.

Answer: Your rhipsalidopsis is also known as Easter Cactus. Holiday cacti are distinguished from each other by their leaf margins. Christmas cactus are identified from other blooming holiday cactus by their rounded or scalloped leaf margins. Thanksgiving and Easter cacti have pointed margins. Under normal conditions, the holiday cacti will bloom close to the holiday suggested in their name.

Flowering cacti should be kept in bright, indirect light. Too much light can cause flower color to fade. Day temperature of 70 degrees F. and evening temperatures of 60- 65 degrees F. are considered ideal. Avoid overwatering during flowering. Do not fertilize when plants are flowering.

Once flowers fall, continue to grow the plant as a houseplant. Soil should be loose; a sandy soil will limit overwatering problems. Fertilize monthly between April and October.

Holiday cacti are short day plants, meaning they bloom when nights are long. Plants will also flower if exposed to prolonged cool temperatures between 50-55 degrees F.

The resting period for this variety is from mid September until late January, during this time they should be kept cool ( under 55 deg f ) and little water. February through to late march is its pre-flowering period it should be kept cool and dryish until the flower buds form then increase the temperature and water. Flowering period is from early April until late May. during this time water and feed normally and keep temperature above 60 deg f. In June place it outside along with the Christmas cactus, in a shady spot, no direct sunlight, until mid September.

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