Christmas cactus is a stunning plant that can enhance the indoor look with its pretty flowers! Here is everything about Christmas Cactus Care in India!
What is Christmas Cactus?
The dangling branches of Christmas cacti with tooth margined green segments produces eye-catchy flowers that make it exceptionally beautiful! The beauty of this cacti elevates during its flowering season with shades of red, yellow, pink, white, and lilac. Since these blooms start appearing near to the Christmas times, during November and December, they are named accordingly! If you have this stunning specimen, here is everything on Christmas Cactus Care in India!
Botanical Name: Schlumbergera x buckleyi
How to Grow Christmas Cactus
You can propagate it from seeds as well, but growing it from cutting ensures a high success rate.
During the warm season, from April to September, snip off a section from the joint of the stem using hands or sanitized shear. A joint or node is the point where two segments meet. Let the cutting dry for 3-4 days, until it forms callous. Take a small pot and fill it with a cactus mix or prepare it by taking equal parts of vermiculture or organic compost, sand, coco-peat and garden soil.
Now, plant the section in the soil by poking half-inch of a cut section in the soil. Keep it in the bright and indirect sunlight and mist water when topsoil looks dry. Within a few weeks, it will start growing new shoots. Transfer it then in a big pot, filled with commercial succulent or cacti mix.
Choosing a Container
Choose 6-8 inches pot for this purpose, and re-pot it in 2 sizes bigger one when its roots outgrow. Keep in mind that the container should have drainage holes at its base. Or just one drainage hole in the center will also work.
Christmas Cactus Plant Care
The flowers of Christmas cactus grow more profoundly in the bright and indirect sunlight or at a shady spot. For indoors, keep potted ones at any east-facing window. During summers, you should keep them at any partial shade. Save the plant from an excess of heat, especially during summer, as it can damage the green segments.
The temperature should range between 60-70 F (15.5-21 C) for optimal growth. Room temperature is also suitable for indoor potted plants. Make sure to give them shade during summers, as the direct sun can burn the plant.
Christmas cactus prefers light, well-draining, well-aerated, and humus-rich soil. Avoid using garden soil as it is heavy and can suffocate the roots. The Best potting soil for Christmas Cactus is cactus mix soil or commercial mix for succulents or bromeliads. Or simply DIY by mixing three parts of regular potting soil, with two parts of coarse sand and one part of vermiculture or perlite.
Unlike other cactus species, this cacti needs good water nurturing for abundant growth and flowering. So, keep the soil slightly wet, especially in springs and summers. Check the consistency of water by poking your finger, 1-inch in the soil. If it feels dry, then water the plant. Do ensure to let the soil dry a little before next watering. Misting frequently during its blooming period encourages abundant flowering. But, do not overwater it, as it may lead to root rot or bud drop.
Fertilizing Christmas cactus ensure good flowering. Use 10-10-10 mild or water-soluble fertilizer from winter to summer. You can also apply one tablespoon of compost or coffee grounds by spreading it uniformly in the soil. Make sure to water the topsoil properly after the application of this fertilizer.
For bushier growth of Christmas cactus, prune the plant after the flowering period till the spring season. Trim one to two end segments from the stem using a sanitized shear. This slight trimming will enhance the new growth of stems.
Avoid re-potting Christmas cactus frequently, as its fragile root and stem may get damaged while doing so. Still, re-pot them in 2-3 years after the flowering period, when its roots seem to outgrow from the drainage holes. While transferring, gently remove the plant from the pot and take the surrounding soil ball along with the plant, but shake it off, if it is compact. Choose a container bigger than the previous one and use the same mentioned soil.
Special Care for Flowering
- For encouraging the bud formation, this cacti should be given 6-8 hours of light per day, and keep them in this routine for 6-8 weeks.
- Once the flowering starts in 8-10 weeks, shift this plant to a usual sunny spot, where it can receive ample bright and indirect sunlight.
- This plant loves a humid environment, so use humidifier spray indoors or place the pot over a tray filled with water and pebbles as additional humidity support.
- If you over-watered the plant, it may lead to root rot, so just cut out the infected part and re-pot in fresh soil.