The Q&A Archives: Christmas cactus blooming tips

Question: I've had two Christmas cactus houseplants for many years. My 15 year old plant has never bloomed; the 18-year-old one flowers four to five times a year. They both get the same amount of light, water and fertilizer. Why the difference? W.T. Croton-on-Hudson, NY

Answer: Some hybrid Christmas cacti bloom infrequently compared with the species cacti, says Tovah Martin, staff horticulturist at Logee's Greenhouses in Danielson, Connecticut. Your older Christmas cactus may be a species cactus, while the young one is a white or shell pink hybrid. They are particularly hard to get to bloom, explains Martin. Another possibility is that you have a night-blooming cereus, which looks like a Christmas cactus. These plans only bloom once a year, at night, adds Martin. To be sure cacti bloom properly, keep the plants pot-bound in a sandy soil. Only water then when the soil is completely dry and fertilize in the summer with a complete fertilizer once a month. Christmas cacti set flower buds after being exposed to cool temperatures and 12 hours of uninterrupted darkness for four weeks. To help buds form, place the cactus outdoors during the frost-free days of September and October, or place the plant in an indoor room that's dark in the evening.

« Click to go to the homepage

» Ask a question of your own

Q&A Library Searching Tips

  • When singular and plural spellings differ, as in peony and peonies, try both.
  • Search terms are not case sensitive.

Today's site banner is by Fleur569 and is called "Shamrock Zinfandel"