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Name: Peggy
Youngstown, Ohio (Zone 6a)
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pgurney
Sep 10, 2013 11:46 AM CST
I was given a Christmas cactus a couple of months ago, but no real instructions came with it.
So may I ask:

#1 - In general, how often should one water a Christmas cactus?
#2 - Do they require full sun, partial sun, bright indirect light, low light?

Thank you for any and all advice. :)
Name: Lee Anne Stark
Brockville, Ontario, Canada (Zone 5a)
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threegardeners
Sep 10, 2013 11:56 AM CST
Water them when they are dry down to the first knuckle of your finger. Just stick your finger in the soil along the side of the pot.

They are a tropical plant that grow in the understory of a jungle. They require bright light, a couple hours of early morning or late evening sun won't hurt them....unless you live in the desert. Mine grow nicely here in Canada in a North window, or to the side of a South or West window.
Name: Tara
NE, Florida (Zone 9a)
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terrafirma
Sep 10, 2013 11:57 AM CST
The Christmas Cactus…Schlumbergera…would like a rich porous soil. Feed frequently with a liquid fertilizer. Maybe every 7-10 days,during growth and flowering. Bright light indoors, and Part shade outdoors.
Name: Carole
Clarksville, TN (Zone 6b)
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SongofJoy
Sep 10, 2013 11:57 AM CST
A Christmas cactus likes to be watered when the soil starts to get dry. Feel the soil. If it feels dry, it's time to water. Don't over-water it but don't under-water it either. They like bright but indirect light. If your growing atmosphere is dry, provide a source of humidity such as a tray of water next to the plant so that the water evaporates and provides humidity. Or you can make a humidity tray by placing the pot on a waterproof saucer that is filled with gravel and filled halfway with water.

These plants are beautiful in bloom but a lot of people have problems getting them to bloom each year. Here is a guide to help with that: http://garden.org/ideas/view/SongofJoy/142/All-About-Schlumb...
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Name: Peggy
Youngstown, Ohio (Zone 6a)
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pgurney
Sep 10, 2013 12:17 PM CST
Thanks everyone, wow y'all are fast!

So what I'm getting is that it's best to grow them indoors? Mine has been outdoors since I got it. The person who gave it to me didn't say which was better.
Also that this is a tropical-type plant which needs a good bit of humidity. Good to know! I keep my purple waffles and diffenbachia on a tray of moist pebbles, too.

Lee Anne, I'm in NE Ohio, so we probably have near the same growing conditions.
So, I'll bring this baby in, place it in the south window with everyone else, on a tray of moist pebbles, and water it when moderately dry.
Easy-peasy. Big Grin

(correct me if I'm wrong, of course).
[Last edited by pgurney - Sep 10, 2013 12:19 PM (+)]
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Name: Lee Anne Stark
Brockville, Ontario, Canada (Zone 5a)
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threegardeners
Sep 10, 2013 12:24 PM CST
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Name: Alex Volker
Ames, IA (Zone 5a)
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cherokeealex
Sep 10, 2013 8:50 PM CST
Mine is set back from a south facing window and gets a bit of fluorescent light as well. It's in regular potting mix, and I water it once a week-that seems to be how long it takes to dry out. I haven't been able to get mine to flower, but it just started growing some new leaves last week, so it can't be too upset.
Name: Lee Anne Stark
Brockville, Ontario, Canada (Zone 5a)
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threegardeners
Sep 11, 2013 5:18 AM CST
I could never get mine to flower either...until I moved into this old house with drafty windows.
As soon as the nights get cold they set buds. I've heard that it doesn't make difference, but it works for me every year.
Name: Julia
Washington State (Zone 7a)
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springcolor
Sep 11, 2013 10:04 AM CST
I bet @JB will know the answer. Seems like I remember she grows Christmas Cactus.
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Name: Tara
NE, Florida (Zone 9a)
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terrafirma
Sep 11, 2013 10:38 AM CST
Seems to me that blooming has more to do with the amount of day/night, than with temp. But temp. is a factor. I could be wrong…Have been before! *Blush*
SongofJoy added this link… http://garden.org/ideas/view/SongofJoy/142/All-Abou…
Name: Sharon
Calvert City, KY (Zone 7a)
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Sharon
Sep 11, 2013 10:50 AM CST
Every October mine goes into an unused room, on a shelf about 8 feet away from a window, getting nothing but that little bit of natural light for the month. I usually water it sparingly after about 2 weeks. At the end of October, I bring it to the window that gets indirect southwest sunlight and water it regularly again; by the end of November, it blooms. Happens every year. I think it just needs to be ignored for the month before its bloom time; it needs little light and very little water at that time.

The article written by SongofJoy is excellent.

http://garden.org/ideas/view/SongofJoy/142/All-About-Schlumb...
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Name: Sharon
Calvert City, KY (Zone 7a)
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Sharon
Sep 11, 2013 10:51 AM CST
Cross posted, Tara. Said the same thing!!
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Name: Tara
NE, Florida (Zone 9a)
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terrafirma
Sep 11, 2013 10:54 AM CST
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Name: Rick R.
near Minneapolis, MN zone 4a
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Leftwood
Sep 11, 2013 11:51 AM CST
It is well known that either long nights or cool temps can induce flowering in both Christmas cactus and Thanksgiving Cactus. But the two regimes can also work symbiotically.

In other words, one would not need as long a night or as cold of a temperature when used in combination, than if either method were solely employed.
Name: Jacquie (JB) Berger
Wrightstown, New Jersey (Zone 6b)

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JB
Sep 11, 2013 12:24 PM CST
Hi everyone, I heard my name and here I am. I read the above posts and I can tell you the ladies are right on the money.

I have about about 50 Christmas/Holiday cactus stock plants in the house of which 10 are my Brazil collection, 2 very old S X.Buckleyi , 1 red , 1 very very old fuschia, a very old pink (that has very round smooth leaves and has more russelliana features) that when I sell it I do not say what it is for sure because even the Cactusguide men would not commit themselves to saying for sure and i depend on them when I am really not sure since I always try and sell my babies with an accurate name. That is one reason some of my plants are not on my ATP List since I am not completely sure of their background. Most the the collection other than those I mentioned are S. Truncata hybrids. The Holiday cactus (the hybrids) begin to bloom in late October or November and continue until March or April. The older ones begin to bloom in late December and bloom until February. I keep them all in indirect sunlight most of the time at a temperature of 70 to 72 year round. I have one or two that get some sun but most are lucky to get a glimmer. They get fed and watered regularly year round because I do not have time to decide who gets what, when. They all get treated the same. I do use a wand rather than my fingers since it is just easier and faster for me. If I find a very dry plant I may decide to get off schedule and water it, depending on how the leaves look. Otherwise they get watered once every 7 to 10 days. I do not cut back on the watering at anytime. Nor do I put them in the dark at any time. But, i do go to bed early and they have whatever light they get from outside all day and night. I do not pull the shades for them. When daylight time goes off, they love it since it gets dark earlier and light later.

The article by @SongofJoy should be very helpful and is written so most people would understand it. The book she recommends is MY bible for the Schlums. It is full of much information that is way over my head at times but when you need to know something you can usually find it there. I do not recommend it for a person who just has one or two plants unless you want to really get into the basics and history of these wonderful plants.

I do agree, that our methods and suggestions may not work for everyone and you need to try them and see if they work for you. Growing these plants is easy only when you find what works for you best. I have been doing this for nearly 10 years and I have lost many because I tried something new and it did not work for me.
I think it is wonderful there are so many suggestions to choose from and that is without a doubt the best thing about ATP.

Today I am having a hissy fit because the temperature has climbed into the 90's and my greenhouse temp with fans going is 106 deg. I gave the babies a misting about noon and am hoping it cools them down during the heat of the day. Just another note, the greenhouse has mostly Christmas Cactus in it. The Jasmine, goldfish, spiders and begonias are also in there but the heat does not bother them. The orchid cactus are all outside with some of the Jasmine and gardenias so they are o.k. also. But, the starter plants of the Christmas Cactus are really not happy when it is too warm or hot as it is today. Mine have survived some winter nights that were really cold in the GH due to heater problems, etc. I would rather have it too cold for them than too hot. Just my old honest opinion. Have fun and enjoy your Schlums. I could not live without mine.

Sorry I was rambling. *Blush* Can not get enough of these particular plants. Big Grin Big Grin Big Grin
Name: Cindi
Wichita, Kansas (Zone 7a)
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CindiKS
Sep 11, 2013 1:19 PM CST
My Christmas cactus go outside in the spring, along with all the other tropicals. They are on the east side of the house, next to the hostas. They get bright morning light, and are watered with the hose whenever i think of it. We have some real hot and dry days here, and these plants do great! Sometimes they get overlooked, and they don't come back into the house until late October. I think they enjoy the cooler nights of fall, and the shorter daylight sets them up fine for bloom. That way, I don't have to put them in a dark room or anything. The sunroom they go into is warm in the day and cool at night.
My mother and grandmothers all set theirs outside all summer long also, and I remember seeing staggering amounts of blooms on their plants every year at Christmastime! My dad had to help my grandma bring hers in some years because it was so huge. i now have parts of that one. It is possibly more than 60 years old now!
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Name: Peggy
Youngstown, Ohio (Zone 6a)
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pgurney
Sep 11, 2013 4:19 PM CST
Wow thanks again everyone.

I just have the one Christmas cactus, my first ever, that someone gave to me. If it can survive me, I'll know I'm doing good! nodding
Name: Rick R.
near Minneapolis, MN zone 4a
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Sages The WITWIT Badge Garden Photography Region: Minnesota Plant Identifier
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Leftwood
Sep 11, 2013 8:11 PM CST
JB, I don't think you rambled at all! Lots of good info. Smiling
You say you "have one or two [of your cactus] that get some sun but most are lucky to get a glimmer." Yet, I gather they are mostly in a greenhouse.

I just want to be clear for the readers here: is the indirect light in the greenhouse the same amount of light as indirect light in a conventional roofed house?
Name: Peggy
Youngstown, Ohio (Zone 6a)
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pgurney
Sep 11, 2013 8:12 PM CST
GOOD question, that's what I need to know. Thumbs up
Name: Jacquie (JB) Berger
Wrightstown, New Jersey (Zone 6b)

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JB
Sep 12, 2013 8:47 AM CST
Leftwood said:JB, I don't think you rambled at all! Lots of good info. Smiling
You say you "have one or two [of your cactus] that get some sun but most are lucky to get a glimmer." Yet, I gather they are mostly in a greenhouse.

I just want to be clear for the readers here: is the indirect light in the greenhouse the same amount of light as indirect light in a conventional roofed house?


No, I am sorry for the misunderstanding.....the second line of the post I began by saying the 50 stock plants are in the house.( I meant my living quarters in the bird room where the sun is Eastern exposure on the one side and Northern on the other. There is a divider on the other two sides of that room with a shelf on the top where some some of them stay. Those are the ones that get little or no sun ....along with the ones in the other rooms of the house that get little or no sun. NOT THE GREENHOUSE. My house has lots of windows and the walls are all cream color, therefore, there is plenty of light from the outside. I also have lights above the shelves on the divider in the ceiling that I keep on in the cloudy and wintery days so they have artificial light if necessry. I never put the stock plants outside because there are too many and I do not have enough shade. They are in the constant 70 deg. temps with about 45 humidity.

The Greenhouse plants are the starter plants and they are under the shade cloth all the time winter and summer but some sun comes in through the doors and under the shade cloth both morning and afternoon.
The babies get more sun than the stock plants. I personally think that when they are young is the only time they really need more sun. The Greenhouse doors and vents are open all Spring and Summer so the babies get normal weather changes and exposure basically except for the shade cloth keeps the direct sun from hitting them.

I usually keep new plants I purchase on the Southern exposure windows until they show me they are ready to be moved. (which is they have taken hold and are beginning new growth)...then they get moved. In fact, today all the Brazils are going to be moved to less light exposure since now they have grown and taken hold the way I like them to do prior to giving them less light. Please remember, this is only my way of doing things and I do it because it works for me. It may not work for everyone in different climates.

The older plants seem to thrive and keep their deep green color without direct sunlight.

I hope that answers your questions, Rick. If not ask away and I will try and make it even more clear. Sometimes my old brain is faster than the fingers. *Blush*

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