How to Get a Christmas Cactus to Bloom for Christmas

Flowering Christmas Cactus

Christmas Cactus

We all hope our Christmas Cactus, (Schlumbergera or Zygocactus) will bloom for Christmas. If you’ve taken good care of your Christmas Cactus during the year, about now you should be seeing the tips of the leaves beginning to grow. Soon the flower buds will develop at these tips, and around Christmas your plant should be in full bloom.

There are several things that play a key role in helping a Christmas Cactus to bloom at the right time. A Christmas Cactus is a thermo-photoperiodic plant, so starting about 4-6 weeks before Christmas it needs 12 hours a day of light and 12 hours a day of darkness. During this time, the ideal night- time temperature should be 50-60 degrees. Reduce your watering slightly and do not soak the soil, only moisten the top few inches.  Although a Christmas Cactus needs fertilizerPlants need fertilizer only when they are actively growing. Slow growing plants in low light require very little plant food. Too much fertilizer is worse than not enough. Most plants prefer a water soluble plant food at 1/2 the recommended strength. Plants that are in bloom or dormant should not be fertilized. Houseplant food contains nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K). A fertilizer containing these elements in equal proportion is considered a balanced plant food. Nitrogen helps in photosynthesis and encourages the growth of leaves and stems. Potassium and phosphorus also help in photosynthesis and aid in root and flower development. Most fertilizers have trace elements of other minerals that are lacking in the soil but are necessary for good plant growth. Fertilizers have a high salt content. If a plant is not producing new leaves and doesn’t absorb the fertilizer, salts build up in the soil. These salts can burn the roots, discolor the leaves, and cause new growth to be small.   when actively developing leaves, once the buds appear, do not feed the plant.

For more information on how to care for a Christmas Cactus go to: