A favourite houseplant for the autumn and winter holidays, Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera spp.) is a tropical succulent coated with fiery flowers when the times are shortest – and realizing feed these vegetation is necessary for an plentiful flower show.

Additionally referred to as zygocactus or vacation cactus, when in full bloom they add incredible dwelling shade to indoor decorations, a perfect plant to brighten the darkish days of late fall and winter.

A vertical image of the pink and red flowers of an outdoor Christmas cactus, along with its green leaves. The middle and bottom of the image are also superimposed with green and white text.
Photograph by Lorna Kring.

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You possibly can learn all about their care and cultivation in our rising information.

Once they come residence from the nursery, vacation cactuses are usually loaded with buds and delight us with putting flowers in scorching shades of apricot, lilac, orange, pink, scarlet, and white. 

And whereas they’re straightforward to look after, encouraging them to bloom once more could be a bit troublesome.

That’s as a result of they’ve particular necessities to induce bud set and flowering. It’s all concerning the timing of daylight to darkish hours, plus realizing when to fertilize and when to cease feeding.

In case you’re prepared for a incredible flowering succulent this winter, let’s unwrap the steps on feed a Christmas cactus.

Right here’s what I’ll cowl:

Vacation Cactus Fundamentals

Christmas and Thanksgiving cacti are epiphytes within the genus Schlumbergera, native to tropical rainforests of Brazil.

A horizontal image of an outdoor Christmas cactus with bountiful pink blooms in front of a blurry natural background.

Supreme houseplants, they’re straightforward to look after and thrive in brilliant, oblique mild in well-draining soil with a barely acidic pH of 5.7 to six.5, and common moisture.

Bud set happens in the course of the cooler days of fall when the darkish of evening lengthens noticeably.

It’s because vacation cactus are brief day/lengthy evening vegetation. Like chrysanthemums and poinsettias, their photoperiodic response for flowering happens when day size dwindles to 12 hours or much less and temperatures cool off.

In case you put your vegetation exterior for a part of the rising season, bud set happens naturally, beginning across the center of September, relying in your area.

Then, once they’re introduced in earlier than the primary frost, flowering happens shortly afterwards – mine are all the time in full bloom for Halloween!

To time your flowering for later within the season, corresponding to between Thanksgiving and Christmas, you could have to control them with a false dormancy.

That is achieved primarily by artificially decreasing daylight to eight to 10 hours per day.

In case you’d like extra data, dig into the straightforward steps in our information to encouraging your Christmas cactus to bloom.

Together with mild, moisture, and temperature, a gentle provide of vitamins is required to assist general plant well being and full flowering.

When and Tips on how to Feed

To advertise sturdy, wholesome vegetation with an plentiful bud set, fertilize your Christmas cactus in the course of the rising season of spring and summer season, or roughly from the beginning of March to mid-September.

A horizontal image of the pink flower buds at a terminal end of a Christmas cactus plant growing outdoors.
Photograph by Lorna Kring.

As soon as the times begin to lengthen in early spring and new progress is rising, that is the time to start fertilizing your vegetation.

To fulfill their dietary necessities, feed them month-to-month with a half-strength resolution of a balanced liquid method corresponding to 10-10-10 (NPK).

Specialists on the College of Georgia Extension program additionally counsel supplementing your vegetation in the course of the rising season with magnesium sulfate, aka Epsom salts – however you’ll want to make use of a lightweight contact.

Combine just one teaspoon of Epsom salts into one gallon of water and apply month-to-month.

Alternate feeding with the Epsom salts and balanced fertilizer in order that they’re utilized two weeks aside – keep away from making use of them on the identical time.

Give your vegetation one last feeding of fertilizer on the finish of summer season to encourage a vigorous bud set.

In case you choose a better fertilizing schedule, slow-release pellets with a balanced method are additionally efficient and might be utilized in early spring then once more in midsummer for a last bud-set enhance.

A vertical image of Espoma's 10-10-10 Garden Food fertilizer against a white background.

Espoma Backyard Meals

Espoma Backyard Meals 10-10-10 (NPK) is an appropriate choice, and it’s out there from Nature Hills.

Or, for a easy and pure plant meals, you possibly can facet and high gown your vegetation with nutrient-rich compost or worm castings – they supply all of the macro and micronutrients wanted for optimum plant well being.

Relying on the scale of your Christmas cactus and the pot it’s rising in, gently work in a single to 2 inches of compost or castings in early spring and once more in midsummer.

As soon as the buds seem, withhold feeding till winter is over. The vegetation aren’t actively rising presently and want a dormant interval to relaxation and re-energize for an additional flowering season.

Leach the Soil

Common fertilization could cause a buildup of mineral salts within the soil and this could trigger injury to your vegetation’ roots. Leaching the soil will help stop this.

A horizontal image of a red-flowered Schlumbergera plant in a brown ceramic pot being watered with a cream-colored watering can indoors.

Leach the soil after your plant has completed flowering by putting the pot in a sink or bucket and watering usually, utilizing the identical quantity of water as you’ll in the course of the rising season.

To keep away from including extra minerals to the combo, use distilled, filtered, or rainwater if potential.

Wait 5 minutes to permit the salts within the soil to dissolve, then re-water, as soon as once more utilizing the identical quantity of water as you’ll in your common functions.

A horizontal image of the yellow flower of a Schlumbergera truncata growing in front of greenhouse greenery.

The second utility ought to trigger water containing the dissolved salts to circulation from the underside of the container, cleaning the soil and reinvigorating your vegetation. Discard the expelled water.

Rising Ideas

Together with an everyday feeding schedule, the next suggestions assist to provide sturdy, vibrant vegetation with ample flowers:

In spring and summer season, permit the highest inch of soil to dry out between water functions.
As soon as buds have set in fall, enhance watering barely to maintain the soil flippantly moist – bud drop happens if the soil is simply too dry.
Preserve your vegetation barely root sure in containers, and guarantee well-draining soil.
All the time empty the water out of catchment saucers so your plant doesn’t sit in standing water.
In case your air is dry in winter, mist your vegetation flippantly with water on a weekly foundation to extend humidity.
Preserve your Christmas cactus away from direct warmth sources, corresponding to a fire, heating vent, and robust daylight.

Blooming Stunning!

For blooming stunning vacation cacti, they should be fertilized commonly!

Use a balanced liquid or slow-release method to supply all the mandatory macro and micronutrients, or use a pure fertilizer like compost or worm castings – and fertilize solely in the course of the lively rising season.

A horizontal shot of a Christmas cactus' pink flower growing indoors.

As soon as flowering stops, keep in mind to leach the soil of undissolved mineral salts for sturdy vegetation and general good well being.

How do you feed your Christmas cactus? Inform us within the feedback part beneath.

And for extra details about rising vacation cacti, add these guides to your studying record subsequent:

Photographs by Lorna Kring © Ask the Specialists, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for extra particulars. Product photograph through Nature Hills Nursery. Uncredited photographs: Shutterstock.


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