Christmas cactus - Knowledgebase Question

Fort Worth, Te
Question by coderplus2
October 4, 2009
Christmas cactus, still leafing out, no bloom spots yet, should I put plant in dark closet, and forget for awhile? What are the rules? Fertilize, water, dark, light what do I do? The plant is lush and gorgeous just no bloom signs yet Help!

Answer from NGA
October 4, 2009


Christmas cactus will bloom if given long uninterrupted dark periods, about 12 hours each night. Begin the dark treatments in about mid-October to have plants in full bloom by the holidays. You can place the plants in a dark closet from about 8 P.M. - 8 A.M. each night for 6-8 weeks or until you see buds forming. Christmas cacti will also bloom if they are subjected to cool temperatures of about 50 to 55 degrees F, eliminating the need for the dark treatments. Plants should be blooming for the holidays if cool treatments are started by early November. We typically think of cacti as being heat tolerant, but Christmas cacti will keep their blossoms longer in cooler temperatures. Keep the plant in a well-lit location away from drafts from heat vents, fireplaces or other sources of hot air. Drafts and temperature extremes can cause the flower buds to drop from the plant before they have a chance to open. Christmas cactus is a tropical type plant, not quite as drought tolerant as its desert relatives and, in fact, may drop flower buds if the soil gets too dry. So continue to give your plant good care, just set it in a closet each night and bring it back into regular light during the day. Once the buds have formed you can keep it in its regular place both day and night. Don't feed until this spring. At that time you can use a half strength dilution of liquid houseplant fertilizer. Enjoy!

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