Clueless about how to care for your new Christmas Cactus? We have got you covered. Read this quick guideline to find out everything you need to care for your Christmas Cactus properly – Gro Indoor
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Everything you Need to Know About Caring for a Christmas Cactus Plant

by 09 Apr 2023

Everything you Need to Know About Caring for a Christmas Cactus Plant

With all the holidays we celebrate, don’t you love a plant that has a holiday on its name?

The best part of this holiday plant? It is low maintenance, so it does not require around-the-clock effort to bloom.

With the ability to grow and thrive all year round, the Christmas cactus can actually live to see many Christmas with a long life span of nearly a hundred years.

Following is a short guide to everything Christmas Cactus relates to, from what a Christmas cactus is to its complete care guide.

What is a Christmas Cactus?

The scientific name of the Christmas cactus is Schlumbergera bridgesii. Further, the genus Schlumbergera, to which it belongs, merely has six species in it.

The plant was first grown in the coastal mountains of south-eastern Brazil in the early 1800s. However, only after the 1950s was this plant first introduced in North America.

Christmas cactus is a beautiful plant that blooms with a combination of red, yellow, pink, and white flowers.

Unlike most cacti, Christmas Cactus offer you blooms more than once a year.

The truth behind the name "Christmas Cactus."

Yes, you may wonder why the name "Christmas Cactus," even though it can bloom several times a year.

Regardless of various theories, the mystery name comes from the fact that the plant's vibrant and colorful flowers remind people of Christmas.

What other types of Holiday Cacti are there?

Holiday cacti typically come from two different genera of the cacti family: Rhipsalidopsis and Schlumbergera.

Further, Rhipsaliopsis blooms around Easter time, and therefore it is called Easter cacti.

On the other hand, belonging to the Schlumbergera genus, Christmas Cactus is one of the two varieties of cacti plants.

The other Holiday Cacti is the Thanksgiving cactus (Schlumbergera truncate).

Now that you know about the cacti's family and history let's get into how you can take care of the Christmas Cactus.

A step-by-step guide to Growing your own Christmas Cactus

After getting the sight of this beautiful plant, it's no wonder that you are looking forward to growing your own at home.

Luckily, you do not have to work too hard to grow a Christmas Cactus. The fact that Christmas Cactus can grow well in your home environment settings, it is ideal for beginners.

You can grow your own Christmas Cactus either by cuttings or from seeds. We will discuss both methods in detail as we move further.

Using Cuttings to grow a Christmas Cactus

You can grow Christmas Cactus from the cuttings of its segments. Therefore, this method is easy, and you can grow as many baby Christmas Cactus as you want.

Further, you can use either soil medium or water medium to grow them.

Let us look into them one by one.

Propagation via Cuttings in Soil Medium

  • Firstly, take a healthy Christmas Cactus and cut at least 4 or 5 segments from the parent plant, also known as "cloning".
  • You can gently twist the plant till it separates or use a sharp, sterile knife to make the cut.
  • Let your cuttings rest for some hours or, in some cases, 1-2 days in the soil. This rest period is crucial because, without it, excessive moisture can lead to stem rot.
  • After the rest period, place the cutting deep enough in the soil to stand upright.
  • Water it thoroughly. Make sure you let the first 2 inches of soil dry out before the next watering.
  • For faster results, you can use rooting gel or rooting hormone to dip in the cuttings to speed up the process.
  • Finally, you can also place it in a cloning machine or rooting cubes to make the rooting faster.
  • Propagation via Cuttings in Water Medium

  • Prepare the cuttings as you did for the soil medium propagation. However, each of your cuttings should contain at least 2 to 4 segments to avoid drowning completely in the container.
  • Let the segments dry for a few hours to get rid of sap.
  • Take a sterile container and add some pebbles to its bottom.
  • Add some water to the container submerging only the bottom one or two segments of the cuttings.
  • Place the plant under indirect sunlight, and change the water weekly to avoid fungal or bacterial growth.
  • When you notice the plant is rooting an inch or two, transfer the plant to well-draining soil in a well-draining pot.
  • Using seeds to grow a Christmas Cactus

    Using seeds to grow a Christmas Cactus can take a long time, but the result is worth waiting for. For this propagation, you need to collect seeds and grow them in the growing season, i.e., spring and early summer.

  • After the cactus flowers pollinate, they produce seeds that can germinate and grow into a new plant.
  • You need to wait until the pod matures and turns bright pink.
  • Nick the seeds to remove the hard coating using a sharp knife or blade. Nicking allows the seed to speed up germination by enabling it to absorb water faster.
  • Plant the seed into moist sand rich in nutrients and wait a week till germination kickstarts.
  • Make sure to keep the seeding tray in indirect sunlight for faster germination and to avoid seed rot.
  • If you are wondering how to germinate other plants from seeds as well, read on:

    A COMPLETE GUIDE TO SEED STARTING AND GERMINATION for more information, and then grab your seeding supplies for ease.

    Aftercare for Christmas Cactus

    Planting the Christmas Cactus is not enough, as you need to provide a proper environmental setting so that it can grow healthy and reward you with blooms.

    Luckily, Christmas Cactus is not a very labor-intensive plant.

    Therefore, here are some of the appropriate and ideal conditions you need to maintain for Christmas Cactus.

    Watering Needs for Christmas Cactus

    Like any other indoor plant, an adequate level of moisture is key if you want your Christmas Cactus to thrive. However, you need to be extra careful because of the risk of overwatering and root damage.

    Therefore, during the growing season, water your Christmas Cactus once in a week or two, depending on the top soil dryness.

    During the winter, you can completely cut off the watering and let your plant go dormant.

    Further, let 1/3rd of the soil go dry before each watering.

    Christmas cactus loves humid weather. If you live somewhere dry, then the best way to tackle this problem is by placing a tray of water beside it.

    If you are prone to overwatering or underwatering your plants, read on: MISTAKES TO AVOID WHEN WATERING PLANTS.

    Fertilization Requirement for Christmas Cactus

    Along with propagation, you need to learn when to feed your Christmas Cactus. During the growing season, you need to fertilize your Christmas Cactus twice a month.

    However, cut off the fertilization in the winter as the plant won’t be actively growing.

    You can use any liquid fertilizer with the right balance of Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium.

    Christmas Cactus requires more magnesium than other plants; hence you can take care of this by adding one spoonful of Epsom salt to a gallon of water while watering.

    However, do not use Epsom salt while you are fertilizing your plant.

    How to make Christmas Cactus Bloom?

    Your Christmas Cactus might need some help during the blooming season with proper fertilization, watering, and ideal temperature.

    However, fertilization is the key to getting blooms. Therefore, to ensure your Christmas Cactus blooms, feed your plant with bloom boosters.

    Additionally, here are some tips that can help your Christmas Cactus bloom.

  • Let the plant enter dormancy before every blooming season. You can do this by cutting down on the watering just enough to let the soil remain slightly moist.
  • Place the plant somewhere it can receive 12-14 hours of darkness a day. Ensure this by using a grow tent or a grow light.
  • Your Christmas cactus needs low temperatures to bloom. Therefore, it's your job to keep the temperature below 65 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • How to Prune your Christmas Cactus?

    A Christmas Cactus is relatively easy to prune and requires very little of your time and effort.

    Although not completely necessary, pruning does help the plant stay healthy during dormancy.

    Therefore, you can prune your Christmas Cactus right after its bloom dies to prepare for the dormancy period.

    Additionally, you need to use a sharp knife to avoid hurting your plant if you are removing the unwanted parts.

    Diseases and pests to watch out for

    Keeping an eye out for possible diseases in pest attacks is necessary for all plants as prevention is always better than cure.

    Rotate your plants weekly, so each part of them gets enough sunlight. Further, remove any dead or damaged parts from your plants.

    The most common pests and diseases to a Christmas Cactus include:

    Spider Mites

    If your cactus has webbings and fine speckles on the leaves, it may have an infestation with spider mites.

    Spider mites are common on houseplants, so regular inspection is necessary.

    You can pray the plant with insecticidal soap to take care of this pest.

    Botrytis Blight

    If you see silvery gray mold on your Christmas Cactus, it is an indication of Botrytis blight. However, you can save your plant by catching the fungus earlier on and pruning the infected part to get rid of them.

    Firstly, separate the infected plant from the others. Make sure the new location has adequate ventilation and humidity levels that you can control.

    Necrotic Spot Virus

    If you spot yellow and wilted leaves in the plant, your plant may have an infection by the Necrotic spot virus.

    As this virus spreads through thrips, maintain strict thrip control as well to prevent it.

    You can do so by spraying the plant with insecticides. However, make sure the leaves are not moist because thrips thrive in a moist environment.

    If your plants are having fungal problems, read on: HOW TO USE NEEM OIL AND INSECTICAL SOAP to get rid of them.

    The bottom line: GroIndoor has got you covered!

    As Christmas Cactus is one of the easy plants to grow, I hope this article guided you with all the things you need to know while growing Christmas Cactus.

    You can grow one on your own and if you have doubts, has everything that you may require to ensure that your cactus thrives.

    From fertilizers to grow lights, we have just what you need.

    Visit our website today, and get shopping to grow the cactus of your dream this holiday season!

    Jul 20th 2022
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