The Basics About Christmas Cactus
Care of Christmas Cactus is easy and simple. One of the joys of the holiday season is to experience blooming plants that are available during this time. One of them, Christmas cactus, or slumbergia, is quite carefree and easy to raise. Greenhouses and other retail outlets will have them available around Thanksgiving time; they are available in a number of colors—white, many shades of pink, and red.
These cacti are succulents, enjoy light and a dry growing environment. After their flowering is complete, let the spent blooms fall off, water sparingly, and do not fertilize. If you need to purchase additional soil, obtain a loose mix oftentimes labeled as “desert mix.” Keep indoors in a well lit area until all danger of frost is behind us.
Care of Christmas Cactus In the Off Season
Over the summer months, keep the cacti in a partially shaded area if outdoors, as too much sun will burn them. Water when dry, and about once a month use a slow release fertilizer in the form of granules or small sticks. New growth will be mimimal, as these are slow growers. The longer you can keep them outdoors, the later they will set buds. Minimal light and cool temperatures will also delay bud set.
In the Fall…
As cold nights approach, protect them from frost by moving them into a cool area, such as a 3 season porch, or shaded north window. By late in the autumn, you will notice small buds appearing at the leaf tips. Just before you want them to fully bloom, at about December 15 in my case, bring them into full light and warmth, and enjoy the blossoms 7-10 days later. Continue to water as needed.
I have never re-potted a Christmas cactus, even though they have been in the same pot for many years. Occasionally, a small branch will fall off, and you can place these into the desert mix to propagate new plants. Have fun, and enjoy the beauty.