Christmas Cactus blooming!

Closeup of a Christmas Cactus Flower-Jan 2011

I have a Christmas cactus which isn’t exactly a vegetable (what’s it doing here) and isn’t exactly a cactus. It is a Zygo-cactus that looks more like a succulent. With care it can bloom around this time of year. I noticed my flower buds in early December and it was blooming by Christmas. I got to admit, I’ve never had much luck in getting them to bloom so I did some research this year (after it bloomed)  It is amazing it bloomed at all this year considering I did almost everything wrong.

Christmas Cactus plant-Jan 2011

There is actually 3 hybrids of this cacti-Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter Cactus so maybe you don’t have the Christmas type if you didn’t get it to bloom around that time. It is native from Central and South America and is a member in the Zygo-cactus family (that’s not Zydeco-it won’t dance). They are tropical cacti and have different care requirements than the standard cacti. So here is what you should do and what I did..

1. Your suppose to keep them in a cool room starting around Sept-Oct, in indirect light and where the temperature is around 50°. I had it in my main great room, in indirect light but in a part of the room where it was right by the floor heater. I have to admit temperatures were certainly much higher as I’m not going to be in that cold of a room! Around Thanksgiving I noticed the leaves burning from the heaters so I moved it further away.

2. They also say to keep it in total darkness at night. That didn’t happen either as their are big windows that let the moonlight in and there are many sleepless nights where I go out into the great room (meaning lights on).

3. We’re suppose to water less when you want them to bloom which I always do anyways. Less meaning I really let it dried out between waterings but not to the point of wilting.

4. Christmas cactus require 50-60 % humidity. Good luck on that one in high desert. I coulda put a pan of water by it but like I said put it by the heater instead. Opps..

5. It likes to be pot bound-no problem there.

Fertilome Geranium, Hanging Basket & Pansy fertilizer

6. The best fertilizer is 0-10-10 but they say no higher than 10 on the nitrogen which would be a 10-10-10 fertilizer. I blew it there too. I started giving it a 20-20-20 around the beginning of November  which I have never done before. Suppose to fertilize around 3 times (that sounds about right)  But the plant  By December 15th or so it started getting little flower buds! It seem to really liked it. The fertilizer was  ‘Fertilome Geranium, Hanging Basket & Pansy’, all purpose fertilizer -20-20-20 (non organic-only in house)

So here’s what I got right (and evidently it was enough): the indirect light, didn’t overwater, let it be pot bound, and did give it some fertilizer (although the wrong ratio). It is still flowering beautifully. Evidently it’s not as picky as they say. Good thing plants are so forgiving at times..

6 comments on “Christmas Cactus blooming!

  1. Frances says:

    My “Christmas cactus is about 20 years old…I inherited it from my Dad. It blooms around Thanksgiving every year. It is in direct light during the Winter and indirect Spring, Summer and Fall. It has been in the same plastic pot forever. When I took it into Tropic of Capricorn to repot…they told me to wait until I had to water it more often. This plant was moved by car from NY/NJ to NM with no traumatic effect. I had been watering it once a month (from the bottom) with a maintenance dose of 20-20-20 fert. (I increase the fert a tad in Spring and summer). After living in NM for a year, I needed to increase the watering (when leaves lose turgidity) to every 3 weeks. When I have to water one a week, it will be time to repot. Last year, it flowered in November and then a little more in the Spring. This year it bloomed for Thanksgiving and still has flowers blooming. My brother took a cutting last spring and that new sprig bloomed in November too. What a happy and forgiving plant!


  2. Monex says:

    Sharing a genus with the more well-known Christmas cactus the Thanksgiving cactus is an epiphyte cactus meaning that it takes root on other trees utilizing the decaying leaf matter for nutrients. The Thanksgiving cactus and other members of the Schlumbergera genus are native to the Organ Mountains in Brazil… The Thanksgiving Cactus is a true cactus though it does not look like one.


  3. Lili says:

    The shapes of different cactus flowers are different , I like the one you have the most. I just can’t find the same shape cactus flowers in stores.


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