Did you get a Christmas cactus at the plant nursery this holiday season? This flowering houseplant, native to the tropical rainforests of Brazil, can live for years with the right care.
Fortunately, keeping a Christmas cactus happy and healthy is pretty easy. Here, the plant nursery professionals at Millcreek Gardens explain the basics.
Christmas cacti produce more abundant blooms when exposed to bright light, so keep yours in a sunny spot indoors. However, don’t place it in direct sunlight, as that can cause the leaves to burn. In the summer, you can move the cactus to a semi-shaded location outside if you like.
Since Christmas cacti come from the rainforest – and not the desert like other cactus plants – they appreciate moisture. Plant nursery professionals recommend frequent, thorough watering. And, if the indoor atmosphere is on the dry side, boost the humidity by keeping a shallow tray of water near the plant.
Warm temperatures, between 60 and 70 degrees, are better for a Christmas cactus, but the plant needs to be cooler at night during the fall and winter. For optimal growth, keep your cactus well away from any sources of hot air, such as heat vents and fireplaces
In the early spring and throughout the summer, your Christmas cactus can benefit from monthly fertilization. A water-soluble fertilizer for flowering houseplants is best – the Millcreek Gardens plant nursery staff can help you find the right type.
Christmas cactus plants need repotting every few years, when the soil appears depleted and the roots appear ready to burst out of the container. Spring is the ideal time to repot, as that’s when the plant is actively growing, but you can take on the task at another time of year if necessary.
Did you know you can force a Christmas cactus to bloom? To initiate blooming, count back eight weeks from the date you want to see flowering. Put the plant in total darkness for 13 to 15 hours each day, watering just enough to keep the leaves from shriveling. Once buds start to form, move the cactus back to its usual spot and keep the soil moist.
Do you have questions about houseplant care? The plant nursery professionals at Millcreek Gardens, northern Utah’s favorite garden center since 1955, are always happy to share their expertise. Our friendly team can help ensure your indoor plants -- and your outdoor annuals, perennial flowers, shrubs and landscaping trees – have exactly what they need to thrive.
For more detailed information on how to care for a Christmas cactus or any other indoor or outdoor plant, stop by Millcreek Gardens in Salt Lake City, Utah, and talk to our knowledgeable plant nursery staff today.