Sunday, December 13, 2009

How to get your Christmas cactus to bloom for the holidays

This blog is a little late to use for Christmas this year, but I thought I'd share how I get my Christmas cacti to bloom for the holidays each year. Christmas cactus are actually a succulent plant called Zygocactus. They are native to Brazilian rainforests.

Beautiful blooms for the holidays!

There are a few requirements to get your Zygo to bloom for the holidays.  The first thing is to stop watering your Zygo at Halloween.  These little plants are quite drought tolerant, so this won't hurt the plant at all.  You'll notice that the leaves will start to shrink up and shrivel a bit, but this is just fine.

Some say to place your plant in a dark closet for the month of November to encourage blooming.  I never have done that.  These plants need 12 hours of darkness each day to set bloom, but where I live in the Pacific Northwest, the natural daylight hours during the winter season work out just perfect to get a December bloom!

One flower in full bloom and another bud getting ready to pop!

I keep mine in a cool room, away from direct heat source, so don't place yours over your heating vent.  The best thing to encourage your plant to flower is cool temperatures from October through December.  During bud setting your plant prefers a temperature between 45-65 degrees. 

Do not relocate or water your plant when it is setting buds, as this can cause bud drop.  Wait until the buds are fully formed and beginning to bloom, then you can move your beautiful cactus out for display.  Choose a cool spot out of direct sunlight and drafts, but bright, indirect light will help your plant to continue blooming.  Water sparingly and only if the branches begin to droop.  Do not fertilize during this time either.

More flowers!

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