Christmas Cactus

  1. bolivianbaby Fishlore Legend Member

    My mother gave me a Christmas cactus two years ago. It's never bloomed and it seems to be getting smaller. I don't want to give up on it because it has sentimental value. I keep it on the kitchen table because that's where we have the most natural light.

    Can anyone advise me on care? Hers blooms twice a year and she really doesn't have a green thumb.
     
  2. Beeker Well Known Member Member

    How often do you water it?
    Unlike regular cacti, a christmas cactus does need to be watered.
    Do you have any pics?
     

  3. bolivianbaby Fishlore Legend Member

    I water it with a small amount once a week. I'll get some pics today.
     
  4. redlessi Well Known Member Member

    What kind of pot is it in? Are the roots showing from the bottom of the pot? You may need to repot it using a good soil. I have a christmas cactus that did the same thing until I repotted it.
     

  5. bolivianbaby Fishlore Legend Member

    It's in the same pot she gave it to me in. The roots aren't showing through the bottom. I've had it for two years, so that's probably not a good sign, huh?

    I REALLY like the re-potting idea. Nice fresh soil, it'll kinda be a like a water change:) Surely, they sell potting soil year round at Home Depot.

    I just looked at it and I'm almost embarassed to post a pic of it. It looks pitiful.

    But I will take a pic after we get the house clean. The kitchen table it's on looks HORRIBLE at the moment.
     
  6. Aquarist Fishlore Legend Member

    Hello. I believe a Christmas Cactus needs temperatures below 52 degrees for a couple of weeks to force it to bloom. However, I wouldn't recommend letting it freeze either :)
    Ken
     
  7. click Well Known Member Member

    I love Christmas cactus, I used to have some pots. From what I remember they don't like direct sunlight and you should only water them when the soil is dry and never add too much water, just enough for the soil to get moist.
     

  8. bolivianbaby Fishlore Legend Member

    Really? Huh, I never thought of that. The laundry room and my bathroom get kinda chilly, but don't get freezing temps. Surely I can find room in one of those rooms for it.

    You guys are awesome!:;group
     
  9. Aquarist Fishlore Legend Member

    I've had them in the past. I always left mine on the screened porch, no direct sun, until the temperature was going to drop to 32 at night. Then I brought it in. As long as the temperature was above 32 I put it back on the screened porch the next morning. Once it started blooming then I would bring it inside. They did really well.
    Ken
     
  10. lorabell Well Known Member Member

    lol...hey i leave mine out on the front porch all year and just cover it up if the temps go down...its been bloomin for weeks....try puttin it outside...its even warmer for u
     

  11. bolivianbaby Fishlore Legend Member

    Aaahhh, so direct sunlight could be part of my problem as well.

    Thanks everyone! Maybe I need to do the same research on plants that I do on my animals before I bring them home. :;group
     
  12. DRock914 Member Member

    There's a Christmas cactus in my house that never blooms either but it hasn't died. We have had it for years.
     
  13. bolivianbaby Fishlore Legend Member

    Here is the pic. It looks pretty pitiful, doesn't it?
     

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  14. Tigerlily Well Known Member Member

    Here's a site about holiday cacti. It's a bit old but the pictures and descriptions are good. The information about their care is quite detailed. I can, however, assure you that at least three of these plants (belonging to my mother) have done well for years and bloom prolifically despite minimal care... just watering. :)

    http://cactus.biology.dal.ca/paulS/christmas/christmas.html
     
  15. Beeker Well Known Member Member

  16. DRock914 Member Member

    I take back my last statement. Our Christmas cactus blooms every easter.
     
  17. TedsTank Well Known Member Member

    All the different Christmas Cacti are epiphytes...like many orchids...don't keep them too wet...ie: don't let the water puddle under the pots. In the wild they grow in trees...and in the tropics it rains every day and the water runs right off during their grow season.

    I leave mine out all spring and summer in moderate sunlight under a tree. In the fall (shorter daylight hours) it sets buds and we bring it in to bloom.
     
  18. critter_fritter79 Well Known Member Member

    My Mom forces hers to bloom by putting them in the dark bathroom for 5-6 weeks. Her bathroom has a small window so they aren't completely in the dark but very little light. Hers have bloomed EVERY year
     
  19. Beeker Well Known Member Member

    By the picture, it looks like you need some fresh soil.
    Moisten the soil and carefully pour the plant out of the pot, carefully removing as much of the old soil as possible. Check the roots. By the way your plant is drooping, you may have some dried out, dead roots. When repotting, you may have to size down the pot. That is not a bad thing. You want the plant to be happy and healthy. A snug fit in the pot is like a protection blanket for this plant. Use a potting soil that says on the bag that it is for Christmas Cacti and African Violets, and don't pot too far up the stem. Do not use any fertilizer after repotting the plant. You only want to fertilize when there are already flowers in bloom. Regular water will be good. If you use tap, let it sit out overnight to let the chemicals evaporate out, like for your fishtank. Don't add dechlorinator or any chemicals to the water. Just let it sit. You want the water to be chemical free and room temperature.
    Here are a couple other links I just found:
    http://hortchat.com/info/christmas-cactus
    http://forums2.gardenweb.com/forums/load/houseplt/msg040942145705.html

    I hope this info is helpful.
     
  20. bolivianbaby Fishlore Legend Member

    Thanks everyone:;hug2

    I've read through the links and I'm sure I'll have some questions after I get it re-potted in the correct soil, temperature, and lighting. I'm pretty sure that root rot is part of this.

    In regards to the water Beeker, I've used water from water changes on my outside plants before we started getting so much rain. Would that be a good source of water for the Christmas Cactus as well? It would be dechlorinated and the nitrates did a fabulous job on my outside plants. All of my tanks are cycled. I usually do water changes when the nitrates hit 20.

    I really appreciate everyone's help!