It's a succulent
The name 'Christmas Cactus' is deceiving, because this plant isn't actually a cactus. It doesn't have spines and doesn't fall into the category of 'cactus'. However, it is a succulent, which means it has great water retaining properties, which also makes it a very easy-care plant, as you won't need to water it often.
Watering and care tips for Christmas Cactus
Schlumbergera are easy-care plants, providing you follow a few simple rules:
- Keep the plant in a pot in a sandy soil mixture. Ensure the pot has excellent drainage. The quickest way to kill a succulent is through over-watering.
- Water the plant only when the soil is completely dry. When you do water it, ensure the soil is completely drenched by placing the soil under a running tap. Allow the pot to drain before placing it back in its usual location. Try to avoid getting the leaves or blossoms wet in the process.
- Don't worry if some of the buds drop off - it's perfectly normal for the plant to lose a few flowers.
It's called a 'Christmas' Cactus, because it typically blooms just once a year, at Christmas time.
However, this is also a little misleading, because (as with all plants), this plant will only bloom at a certain time of year, providing certain light and watering conditions are met. Once the plant finishes flowering in the spring, fertilize it with succulent fertilizer. In the summer, you can move it outdoors to a shaded area and continue to water and fertilize as needed, although moving it outside isn't essential. If you do move it outdoors, be sure to move it back indoors before the first frosts. At this point, you should also reduce the amount of water it gets. In winter, it will thrive if you can find a location where it receives approximately 4-6 hours of indirect sunlight each day.
How do I get my Christmas Cactus to bloom next Christmas?
In order to have beautiful blooms on your Christmas Cactus this time next year, you will need to start to prepare the plant in September. In late September, make sure the plant is kept in a dark room or in a box for at least 12 hours a day.
When buds appear on the plant during this time, you can move the plant to its usual location and resume normal lighting conditions. Avoid extreme changes in temperature or lighting at this time.
Whilst the plant is in bloom, continue to water it as needed, and add some cactus plant feed.
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