You must have loved the beautiful flowers displayed by the Christmas cactus during the Christmas season. You are now wondering if you can get it to bloom once more before next Christmas. The answer is yes.
To get a Christmas cactus to bloom, simply place it in a cool room, reduce watering, and provide twelve to fourteen hours of uninterrupted darkness daily for six to eight weeks. These tough conditions induce dormancy which helps to promote blooming.
Traditionally, the Christmas cactus blooms in the late fall or early winter, usually from November to January. The exact time of flowering may vary depending on several factors, including the amount of sunlight the plant receives, the temperature, and the amount of water and nutrients it gets.
How to Get a Christmas Cactus to Bloom
To get your holiday cactus to bloom, consider the following:
1. Cut back on watering
If you have been actively watering your Christmas cactus, you need to reduce the amount of water you give. This will enable the plant to enter dormancy, which is vital for getting the Christmas cactus to bloom.
Normal watering should resume once the cactus starts producing flowers. But be sure not to overwater the plant as it may cause root rot.
2. Put the Christmas cactus in the dark
A Christmas cactus must be kept in the dark for at least twelve hours to form flower buds for about six to eight weeks. Keep it in absolute darkness because even a little light will interfere with the process.
You can place the plant in a closet you don’t usually use or somewhere in a garage where the light is completely blocked. Check when to put a Christmas cactus in the darkness.
3. Put the Christmas cactus in a smaller pot
Planting a Christmas cactus in a small pot encourages root bound. Christmas cacti like to be root-bound. The plant will prioritize blooming instead of growth when roots are in this state.
Be sure to repot the cactus into a slightly larger pot every 1 to 2 years to prevent the roots from getting heavily entangled. Excessively pot-bound roots won’t take up moisture and nutrients as the plant needs.
4. Provide few hours of indirect sunlight
A Christmas cactus will require light for photosynthesis. However, direct sunlight will damage the plant. Keep the plant in a bright room with indirect sunlight for about ten hours daily and in darkness for the rest of the night.
Generally, too much direct sunlight is a threat to the health of a Christmas cactus. In their native zones, this plant enjoys a cool climate created by the forest canopy. Direct sunlight may cause discoloration, dropping of flower buds, and even wilting of the plant.
5. Do not put fertilizer during and after bud formation
Although Christmas cacti need regular fertilizer when growing, it is not required during flowering. If you have been taking good care of the plant before the blooming season, the nutrients available in the soil should be enough.
The Christmas cactus fertilizer requirements should be resumed once the blooming ends. Fertilizing during blooming may cause buds or flowers to fall off the plant.
Caring for Christmas cactus flowers
When you force a Christmas cactus to bloom by giving it proper care, you should continue caring to allow the flowers to form. Once the bud is formed, it takes good care for flowers to last. Here are the Dos and Don’ts:
1. Do not add fertilizer to a blooming Christmas cactus
Putting fertilizer during blooming will cause buds to fall off the Christmas cactus. You should fertilize during summer and spring or wait until after flowering.
2. Do not repot a blooming Christmas cactus
Changing the soil and probably the size of the pot to a bigger one is recommended for most houseplants, like holiday cacti. However, repotting a Christmas cactus when it is flowering will cause the flowers to fall.
Christmas cacti like to be root bound, so repotting is unnecessary when flowering.
3. Avoid moving the plant around
Moving the Christmas cactus around during flowering will also cause temperature fluctuations, making the plant lose flowers. Keep the plant in a spot with bright indirect light to help the flowers bloom better.
4. Water and increase humidity around the plant
If you have been under-watering, increase the times you water but be careful not to put water in excess. If you live in an arid climate, you can spray the Christmas cactus leaves with water to provide humidity around the plants. Christmas cactus loves humid climates as it is native to tropical rainforests.
When watering your Christmas cactus, ensure the pot has drainage holes and the potting soil is well-draining to prevent water from flooding the roots. Excess water in the potting media may encourage root rot and other fungal infections.
You can get a Christmas cactus to bloom more than once a year. Ensure to take good care of the plant by feeding it with the required nutrients. After blooming, you do not have to keep the plant in the dark; instead, keep it in a room with bright indirect light and see the magic happen.
- Michigan State University: The secret to getting a Christmas cactus to bloom
- University of Hampshire: How often should I water a Christmas cactus?
- Purdue University: Getting Christmas Cactus to Re-bloom
My name is Diane M Lewik, and I am the founder of this website. I am a degree holder in plant biology from the University of California – Berkeley. Over years, I have cultivated a vast collection of succulents and I have learned a great deal about how to grow and care for these unique plants.