(January) I have a Christmas cactus with leaves that are turning red and getting limp. What's wrong? They just got done blooming, and a second set of buds started forming. They dry up and fall off.
Make sure the Christmas cactus is not too dry. They often go limp from getting too dry, while they turn mushy if too wet. These plants like more moisture than most cactus or succulent plants. If they get stressed, this can also cause flower buds to abort. Also, make sure the plants aren't too cold. Having them right next to a window can get nippy.
(June) I have four Christmas Cacti that I have had for quite sometime. They have always bloomed in late November and early December, but here it is May 25, 2004 and they are all in full bloom. Needless to say they are beautiful, but I don't know why they are blooming now. Maybe you can tell me. Also will they bloom again at Christmas time? I bring them indoors in the fall, and move them back outside in the early spring.
Schlumbergera truncata is commonly sold as a Christmas cactus or Thanksgiving cactus. The secret of good blooms seems to be one of temperature and light control. They will develop buds and bloom if given bright light and short days (of less than 12 hours of light) , and night temperatures less than 70 F,( preferably between 55 and 65 F.) If they are left outdoors in the fall, they will get the shorter days and cooler temperatures naturally, and set lots of flower buds. If the temperature is lower than 55- 60°F, plants set flower buds regardless of the length of the day or night. This can explain the phenomenon of them blooming again in February and March occasionally. As cool as our spring was, it must have fooled them, and helped them set flower buds again now. Enjoy the flowers now, keep the plants outdoors, and they should set more flowers this fall.
(October) My question is about my Christmas cactus. I live in Fayetteville and keep the cactus indoors all year long. What I want, though, is one of the absolutely gorgeous, very large and filled with flowers Christmas cactus, without having to buy one. I have always heard that I can get better flowers if I put the cactus outside when it starts to get cold. Last year, I had probably 20 large blossoms and thought I was doing very well until one day later when I was in a store and saw one that was covered with flowers. The cactus itself is fairly large and very healthy. Any advice?
The holiday cactus will develop flower buds if given bright light and short days (of less than 12 hours of light) , and night temperatures less than 70 degrees Fahrenheit,( preferably between 55 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit.) They like that temperature shift from cool nights to warm days. If they are left outdoors in the fall, they will get the shorter days and cooler temperatures naturally, and will usually set lots of flower buds. If the temperature is lower than 55- 60 degrees Fahrenheit, but above freezing, plants set flower buds regardless of the length of the day or night. The problem with having the plants indoors year-round is the temperature tends to remain constant -- usually above 65, and there are more lights on in the evening. Some people never see any new flower buds. I would not recommend moving them outdoors now, since it is so late in the season, but next year leave them outside from spring through fall, and bring them back inside when flower buds are set, or prior to a frost. For this season, move them to the coolest location in your house, and preferably one that doesn't have a lot of lights at night.
(October) I have a Christmas Cactus that my aunt gave me about 40 years ago. I was a school teacher and had a room that had windows on both the north and east side. This cactus always had a great mass of blooms while I had it my schoolroom. However, since I've retired in 1990, it hasn't bloomed once. At present, I have it in a west window that gets ample light. It looks healthy, but I'd like to see those beautiful blooms again. Do you have any suggestions for me to make it bloom?
The best thing you can do for the holiday cactus is give it cool temperatures and avoid lights around it at night. I bet the school turned down the heat at night and weekends, so the plant got cool. There were also no lights on at night in the classroom. If you leave it indoors year-round, it often stays at constant temperatures and has light in the evenings and doesn't bloom as well. They will bloom best if they are exposed to temperatures in the mid 50's to low 60's. They also like short days and long nights. I recommend leaving them outside until they set flower buds in the fall, or prior to a frost. It may be too late for that treatment now, but if you have a spare room, turn the heat down in there and keep it away from lights at night, and it should bloom for you.
(December) I have had two Christmas cactus plants for a few years. One is in a 9 inch pot, the other in a 6 inch pot. I leave them out in my breeze way during the summer until they set blooms, then bring them in. They always bloom, but don't seem to be getting any bigger in size. They also don't look shiny or strong. What should I do to increase their size and improve their appearance? Do they need to be repotted? How often should they be fertilized? Any suggestions would be appreciated.
The Christmas or Thanksgiving cactus actually will take more water than most cactus or succulents. If it gets excessively dry, the leaves will look a little wilted or dull. The plants will usually rot or be soft, if you are giving them too much water. They bloom better if they are slightly pot-bound, but if you have not repotted in a few years, you may want to this spring when you move them back outdoors. Make sure they get plenty of sunlight. Fertilize them two to three times while they are outside during the summer. After bloom indoors, put them in a sunny, cool location and let them recover from the bloom period.
I have what I assumed to be a Christmas cactus, but it almost always blooms in November. Is it a mixed up plant, or do I really have a Thanksgiving cactus? Also, can these plants be propagated? Everyone I know wants a cutting.
Most of the plants commonly sold during the Christmas holidays are Schlumbergera truncata, or the true Thanksgiving cactus or crab cactus. They bloom much more reliably than the true Christmas cactus, Schlumbergera bridgesii. The difference in the two holiday cacti is that the crab cactus has stem sections which end in points or "claws" whereas the Christmas cactus has rounded lobes. The truncata species are commonly sold as "holiday" cactus, and can bloom any time from late October through December depending on light availability. They root easily when not in bloom. Simply cut off some sections of the plant having at least two or three segments. Then put them in moist potting soil or sand.
I have an old Christmas cactus that has flowers opening on it now. It normally blooms in the winter time. What do you think caused the blooms now, and should I just pinch them off?
Enjoy the off-season blossoms. Holiday cactus plants typically set their flower buds in relationship to short days and long nights. They have been known to throw an errant bloom off season. This shouldn’t hurt your prospects for flowers next winter, so enjoy it as long as it lasts.
I have a Christmas cactus that I have had for several years. It bloomed the first year I got it, and has never bloomed since. What do I do to get a bloom on it? And am I too late for this year?
Christmas or Thanksgiving cactus plants bloom in relation to short days and long nights. Make sure that you have your plant in a room that gets no light at night–a spare bedroom works well. If you have the opportunity next year to move the plant outside, do so. Then leave it outdoors while the weather cools off and the daylength shortens. Then it should set flowers naturally. Indoors, give it bright sunlight during the day, and darkness at night. Keep it on the cool side, and let it get slightly dry between watering. There is still time to have blooms this year. These holiday cactus plants can bloom from November through February depending on conditions.
I have had a Christmas cactus for several years, and the only year I had any flowers was the year I purchased it. It grows well, has numerous new branches, but no flowers. It gets plenty of sunlight, as I have it growing in front of a picture window in my den. What should I do to encourage flowers on it in the future?
Holiday cactus plants bloom in relation to short days and long nights. What that means, is they need total darkness in the evenings when the day length is shorter, and the nights are longer. If you have them growing in your den, chances are good that you have lights on in that room all evening. Try moving the plant to a room that isn’t used in the evenings, but does have sunlight during the day. Better yet, move them outdoors this spring, and leave them outside until cool weather arrives in the fall. With natural day lengths, they should set flower buds.
I hope you can help me with my Thanksgiving cactus. I have had it for two years. It had very few flowers the first year and a few more this past season. I want to carry it over to next season with many blooms. The container is very full. Should I divide it or put it in a larger pot? Should I use cactus soil and fertilize? Please outline care throughout the year. Thanks. (Benton)
Thanksgiving cactus plants tend to bloom best if they are slightly pot-bound. If they are too crowded, it is hard to keep them watered. Now would be a good time to divide or repot to a larger container if warranted, and move them outdoors. Give them a morning sun location, keep them evenly watered, and let them grow. They should really grow with warmth and humidity. Leave them outside until it begins to turn cool. As the days begin to shorten, and cooler weather arrives next fall, they should set an abundance of flower buds. Fertilize once or twice with any water soluble fertilizer. Special cactus soil or fertilizer should not be necessary.
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