The Q&A Archives: Christmas Cactus

Question: Please tell me when I can put my Christmas cactus outside? And when do I need to bring them back in the house? Should they be in sun? shade? or a combo of both? Do I need to put them on any particular side of the house--like north, east or? i live in the central area of California---near Fresno. Thanks

Answer: 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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