By Nikki Phipps
(Author of The Bulb-o-licious Garden)
Figuring out how to make a Christmas cactus bloom can be tricky for some. However, by following the proper watering guidelines and ensuring that just the right light and temperature conditions are given, learning to force a Christmas cactus to bloom can actually be quite easy.
Christmas Cactus: How to Make Bloom
When you want to force a Christmas cactus to bloom, you need to begin by limiting the amount of water the plant receives. This generally takes place sometime during fall, usually around October or the first part of November.
Cut down on watering just enough to allow the soil to remain slightly moist. Water only when the topmost (about 1 inch) layer of soil is dry to the touch. This will enable the plant to enter dormancy. Dormancy is critical for getting a Christmas cactus to bloom.
Light Cycles for a Christmas Cactus
In order to further force a Christmas cactus to bloom, you’ll need to move the plant where it will receive about 12-14 hours of darkness. Bright, indirect light during the day is fine; however, Christmas cactus requires at least 12 hours of darkness at night in order to encourage bud development.
Your Christmas cactus, dark conditions aside, will also need cool temperatures. This should average out to about 50-55 degrees F. Therefore, make sure the location will accommodate both light and temperature requirements.
Christmas Cactus in Bloom
Christmas cactus plants should continue receiving dark, cool treatment for at least 6-8 weeks, or until buds begin forming. Once buds have formed, it usually takes up to 12 weeks (or less) for blooms to appear. The plant should also be relocated at this time.
Move the Christmas cactus to a sunny, draft-free area. However, keep it away from direct sunlight, as this may cause the plant to become droopy looking. Also, drafty areas can cause the buds to drop before blooming has occurred. Giving the plant more bright, indirect sunlight will produce more blooming. Christmas cactus bloom better as pot-bound plants. While watering may be increased during blooming, the amount will vary according to the plant’s current light conditions, temperatures and humidity levels.
When you force a Christmas cactus to bloom by giving it the proper care, in the right place, receiving the right light and temperature conditions, the Christmas cactus will not only bloom but may also surprise you by continually producing blooms several times throughout the year. Knowing how to make a Christmas cactus bloom will help you to enjoy the lovely flower on this popular plant.