Dropping Buds On Christmas Cactus - Knowledgebase Question

Sun City, CA
Question by hodgedne
December 8, 1999
I purchsed a Christmas cactus with many buds. A day or 2 later it started dropping buds-3 or 4 a day. At this rate all will be gone by Christmas! What can I do?


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Answer from NGA
December 8, 1999

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It sounds as though your new Christmas cactus is reacting to a change in the environment. Dropping buds can be a result of overwatering, temperature extremes or lack of light. Your plant was given special treatment to make it bloom at Christmastime, and it was provided with perfect growing conditions during this time. Somewhere in transit, or perhaps in your home, it encountered less than ideal conditions. The resulting bud drop is the plant's way of dealing with the stressful condtions. You can help it recover by providing the essentials:

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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