Get that Christmas cactus to bloom again

posted on December 7, 2011 11:33am

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EAST LANSING, Mich. – Brightly colored Christmas cacti are in bloom and on display for a plant lover’s delight but they need special care to bloom again in the future.

Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera truncata), also known as Thanksgiving cactus, holiday cactus or crab cactus, flowers with red, pink, yellow, orange, white or purple blooms. They are native to humid, shady forests of southeast coastal Brazil.

Classified as a forest cactus, the Christmas cactus requires care that is nothing like that of a desert cactus. The plant prefers rich, organic potting soil and plenty of water, especially while blooming. Never allow it to dry out.

Leave the plant in a small container or pot for as long as possible before moving it to a slightly larger pot. It prefers bright indirect sunlight. Be careful about exposure to full sun or the leaves can burn.

The secret to getting the cactus to bloom in the following years after you buy it is controlling the light and the temperature. Christmas cacti need a cool environment and a short-day cycle.

To initiate the production of flower buds, simulate a light/dark cycle, making sure to give your plant 16 hours of dark and eight hours of light each day for at least eight days.

“Placing the Christmas cactus on the window sill in a cool room and not turning on the lights is all that’s needed,” Gretchen Voyle, Michigan State University (MSU) Extension educator, said. “The good news is that Christmas cacti are considered relatively easy to get to bloom again if their temperature and light requirements are met.”

To find out more information about Christmas cacti, please visit MSU Extension News at MSU Extension News features helpful articles about various topics submitted by MSU Extension experts throughout the state.

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