Caring for The Remarkable Christmas Cactus
Desert dwelling plants aren’t usually featured at Christmas, as the season traditionally celebrates cold weather, snow and brisk pine tree forests. The exception however, is the Christmas Cactus whose natural home is actually the rainforests of Brazil. With its long flat stems and brilliantly coloured flowers it’s a hard one to miss during the season. While it’s difficult to get your other cacti to bloom, the Christmas Cactus will give you boatloads of flowers in pinks, reds, purples and whites. Perhaps not always traditional seasonal colours, but beautiful nonetheless.
Maybe you spotted one at the florist or your neighbour decided to gift you a Christmas Cactus to thank you for helping her set up the lights (good job!). However it got there, now it sits in your living room and you’re wondering what to do with it. The fact that it’s a cactus might throw you off a bit, as they are generally known to be moody around water. But this cactus won’t bite (very few pokey parts) and isn’t afraid of water like its cousins. Read on to discover how to care for your Christmas Cactus.
No life jacket required – Watering your Christmas Cactus
Unlike what you’re used to, the Christmas Cactus enjoys the water (swimming, water polo and maybe even a little skinny dipping!) and prefers to be watered frequently, making sure to get all the soil soaked. Although you should allow the soil to dry out a bit between your scheduled waterings, never let it dry out completely. This can stunt your plant’s growth and cause it to drop all of its carefully grown blooms!
Warm hugs – Don’t give your cacti the cold shoulder
Although hugging cacti is generally discouraged, your Christmas Cactus will need warm temperatures during the day to stay healthy, so keeping it between 15-21 degrees Celsius is key. Like any warm-blooded plant, try to avoid placing it in a draft or next to a vent. A consistent temperature is best for these guys. Bright light is appreciated but too much direct sunlight can burn the stems.
A life after Christmas – What to do with your Christmas Cactus after the season
Keep your cacti looking its best during and after the Christmas season by deadheading all the spent blooms. This also encourages the plant to continue blooming. Once Christmas is over you can continue to enjoy your cacti until it finally stops producing flowers. But don’t get rid of it once it does! These cacti make beautiful houseplants, with or without blooms. And chances are it will bloom for you again next year and sometimes in the middle of the year as well. (Bonus!)
At the beginning of summer time you can prune it by clipping back some of the lankier sections from each stem. This promotes more growth (just like a haircut) and also encourages it to bloom again.
Your Christmas Cactus will stand out from the rest of your houseplants with its long reaching stems and bright flowers, whether it’s actually the holiday season or not! Enjoy its unique style in your home.