Ask Our Readers: My Christmas Cactus

I bought my Christmas Cactus in 2014.  It was at a time we were deep into house remodeling and still living at the farm.  It was miserable.  The house was packed up at the farm and the contractors were going SO SLOW.  We desperately wanted to be out of our house.  There was no Christmas happiness at all.

Mary from Country Threads wrote me a note and said, “Hang in there, Jo! You’re really close and it’s almost harder than when you couldn’t see any progress. You know I know what I’m talking about. Focus on Christmas 2015 – won’t it be wonderful?”

Well I ended up buying this Christmas Cactus as my holiday decor…that’s it.  It was on clearance and I did start looking forward to Christmas of 2015.

cactus
Well at Christmas 2016 he looks like this….

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Last year he got a new pot and at Christmas 2017 I was so excited.  There were blooms.  But then Carver knocked the whole plant stand over and broke off half of the plant.  Only a couple blooms remained.   I was so sad.  I mended it the best I could and at Easter of 2018 this happened….
Can anyone explain this to me?  I’m so happy it’s blooming.  It’s been blooming now since Easter (about a month!) I’m thrilled it came back to this much life but explain please?

I could also use any advice on growing these so they it would be more vibrant….fertilize?  with what?  help!  Someone said turn the plant…Any advice would be helpful.

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23 thoughts on “Ask Our Readers: My Christmas Cactus

  1. Lynne Nicholson UK

    Christmas cactuses are also sold as Easter cactuses in the UK as they bloom at both times

  2. Kim

    My Christmas cactus was given to me my mom about 6 years ago and its hanging on even though I can neglect it. I have it where it gets fairly good light during most of the year and then in Nov I move it to a darker part of the house and I put it back in the light in December, this seems to force it to bloom at Christmas. Good luck with your cactus, it appears to be a gorgeous pink

  3. Jean Ward

    I have two — one of them was given to my mother when a distant relative died in 1960! I don’t do anything but water it occasionally, but I understand one should water it, put it someplace dark and cool for about two weeks, then take it out and it should bloom in another two weeks. Mine are on a plant stand near a sliding glass door. The “cool” side blossomed, so I turned it and then the next “cool” side blossomed. One of my grandmothers used to pinch off a section or two and leave them in books. You just never knew when one would fall out. Didn’t seem to bother the plant any.

  4. Bobi

    I have one and it blooms multiple times per year. In fact, it’s blooming right now. We call it the Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, May Day, Labor Day, Veteran’s Day, Easter, Christmas cactus or whatever holiday is near. It blooms so often, it’s become a joke. It sits in its original pot (I have never repotted) in a bright window. I learned from having previous ones, the main thing is Do NOT over water. Let the soil dry out. It is a cactus, after all. But I think my secret is what I water it with. I have a large plastic cup (about 24oz size) I rinse off two or three egg shells, dump them in the cup and add the hottest tap water, then let the cup sit until the cactus needs water. Once a week or less, I water it and my aloe and shamrock (I’m not much of a gardener) with the cup, again add extremely hot tap water and repeat the process. Every 3-4 months, I change the eggshells or add an extra one. My three plants are lush but the Christmas cactus really seems to love this system. It’s the best Christmas cactus I have ever had. It’s about five years old.

  5. Tudy

    My Christmas Cactus start blooming around Halloween and bloom off and on till after Easter. They are in a south window and I water them once a week. Nothing more. I need to re-pot them and hope to very soon because the soil is so hard. I water some from the bottom and some from the top. Just enjoy it.

  6. Debbie Grbavac

    Our cactus was my mother-in-law’s. It blooms spontaneously for family events like weddings, new babies, pregnancies, etc. We say it is Grandma looking down on us from heaven. May be just coincidental…but it has happened a lot and at odd times!

  7. Susan

    I have one that is white and it blooms about 3-5 times a year. I set it in the sink and completely soak it and let it drain. I’ve had mine for 10 years. I’ve only repotted it twice.

  8. Mary Jo

    I have a Christmas Cactus that blooms at all kinds of crazy times…I don’t try to figure it out, I just enjoy it! I also have one that I gave my grandmother in the mid 60’s that is still in the same pot I gave it to her in. Every summer I put my Cactus on my screened porch and throw a little water at them occasionally, tell them to enjoy themselves, then pretty much forget them. They are so full of blooms from Thanksgiving until mid January that they almost break themselves!

  9. Elaine Sihilling

    I have so many of these cactus I water them once in awhile they are on a shelf above my cutting table I have a lot of starts which I just moved to the patio they bloom from late October to June I don’t do anything special to them they are in front of a west window which has sun and shade I repot them when I think they need it but other than that I just leave them alone

  10. Laura

    Mine will bloom reliably between Thanksgiving and Christmas if it spends all summer on the screened porch. If it spends the summer inside the house, I only get a few blooms.

    I don’t know why. I’m reading the comments hoping to learn more.

  11. Kathy Hancock

    There is a Christmas cactus and a Thanksgiving cactus. I have the Thanksgiving one and like the other comments it blooms whenever it wants. I water it generously about every 2 weeks. I’ve re-potted it twice. I bought it about 8 years ago at a home improvement store, it was marked down because it looked pretty sad ( they probably over watered it ). The like lots of sun and to dry out between watering.

  12. Melissa Latter

    I cant explain it but My Christmas cactus blooms every Easter and Christmas!! Its actually still blooming from this past Easter :)

  13. ShirlR

    I have one that’s probably 8 years old. At first, I had it near the middle of the living room, but not directly near a window. It remained fairly small. It would give a few blooms somewhere between Thanksgiving and New Years. Then I decided to put it on a chest which is in South-facing large window in the living room. It really took off! It loves it there and it blooms 3-4 times a year, beautiful dark pink-coral blooms. I let the soil dry before I water it, but I have used those “stick” fertilizers in it twice and have re-potted it once into a larger pot once in the last couple of years. Since our city water is chlorinated, I give my plants filtered water from my fridge and I let the water set and come to room temperature. I keep turning it every few weeks so all sides get the sun. I definitely do not have a green thumb, so I am sure amazed at how lovely and vibrant this plant is. (It probably does well in spite of me, ha!)

  14. Mary

    The is a difference in Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving cactus. The leaves r different, they bloom at different times of yr. I have several Thanksgiving, only 1 Christmas, haven’t been able to find an Easter one. They r beautiful flowers. Look up the difference of the leaves of ea to c difference in ea cactus.

  15. Janet

    Morning jo, I live in florida and have several of these beautiful plants. They will grow just about anywhere. Don’t over water them. I have them hanging outside they like humidity, they in the cactus family, .they will bloom for some time. And you can just snip off a piece stick it in a new pot and will grow also pretty much leave on their own. I water about every two weeks , they like morning sun.

  16. LA

    Mine has been blooming steadily since Thanksgiving, and I think it’s about done for the year. Some years it’s loaded and some it’s sparse. Maybe if I fertilized it, it would be more consistent.

  17. Kris P

    I’ve had my Christmas cactus for 10(?) years. It’s a shoot off of my grandma’s which is very very old. She has been gone for 20 years, and I don’t remember a time when she didn’t have the plant.. so it may be 35 years old. Anyway, the plant still resides in my parents home, which was my grandparents. It is usually in the bedroom with south and west facing windows… so lots of light. (Mine is in our west facing bow window.)
    We use miracle grow indoor plant food to fertilize, nearly every time we water them. They are thirsty little devils.. almost a quart of water every week. Stop fertilizing when you see buds forming… If you fertilize its while blooming, it will drop off the blooms.
    Ours will bloom anytime from Thanksgiving to Easter and often gets set outside in the summer under an evergreen tree…
    Another thing we do to encourage fullness is to pinch back the foliage or prune it. When you’re cutting back the stockier portions of an older plant, it definitely feels like pruning. 3 summer ago, I gave mine a pretty severe ‘haircut’ and nearly filled an ice cream pail with the trimmings. I trimmed out of the middle, an anything that hung over the side of the pot. Now it’s so much fuller and happier.
    Good luck with your Christmas cactus.

  18. Rebecca

    I have a Christmas cactus that is a descendant of one that belonged to my Great Grandmother who died nearly 40 years ago. I keep it in a south facing window and water it about every 3 days just enough to keep the dirt at the roots wet. It blooms at all times of the year.

  19. Andi Lien

    Jo,
    These can be really long lived plants. I have babies off of the mother plant that was in my piano teachers mothers house back in the 1970’s. I know the mother plant is still alive, so its over 60 years old. I put my cactus out on my deck under a pine tree each summer and leave it there until just before frost. It blooms for me each year between Christmas and Easter. I keep it in an east window in my house. I do turn mine occasionally – basically when I think of it. it loves being rained on and I think the fresh air is good for it. I do the same thing with my Jade plant – that one is getting to where we can’t hardly move it its gotten so big. yours is looking great!

  20. Jeri Niksich

    The lady at Exuberant Color has several Christmas Cactus and lots of advice. The main being keep them in darkened places until bloom time.

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