It’s Christmas time, and down here in Texas we do things slightly differently than in other states. That’s why, with a name like “Christmas cactus”, you knew I wasn’t going to miss the opportunity to talk about this succulent sweetheart.
1. Watering/Soil. Christmas cactus, or Schlumbergera bridgessii, needs moist soil to grow, but not soaking. Too much and the plant will rot, too little and it might not bloom. Well draining soil makes this much easier. Put sand or small stones at the base of the pot to help you get this effect.
3. Sunlight: Bright, indirect light is best, like that which comes through a house window. Direct sunlight, especially in Texas, can burn the plant.
4. Temperature/Humidity: Christmas cactus prefer the temperature to hover around 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and 50-60 at night. They are tropical plants, so high humidity is a must. Fill their drip tray with pebbles and water, or mist often to keep them happy.
5. Fertilizer: Fertilize monthly from late winter to late summer with 20-20-20. Don’t fertilize in the winter as the plant will start to go dormant.
6. Blooming: The Christmas cactus can be a finicky bloomer. They require at least 12 hours of total darkness for 6-8 weeks during the evenings to form buds. This includes indoor lighting! Cover your plant with a tarp if you are unsure and be sure to cut back on how much you water. Once buds form you can remove the tarp. Be sure to start this process earlier in fall if you want a thanksgiving bloom; it can take up to 12 weeks for the buds to bloom once they’ve formed.
Don’t take my word for it?
Gardening Know How has several articles specifically on caring for Christmas cactus.