Christmas Cactus: How to grow and maintain it so that it lasts a long time

During the upcoming Christmas season you can receive a Christmas cactus as a gift. You will have to take care of it so that it survives without problems and keeps you company for a long time with its beautiful and colorful flowers.

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It is a plant that prefers shade and humidity. Therefore, the interior environment of our houses in winter with the heating on becomes an ideal climate for lush growth.

1- When does the Christmas cactus bloom?

They can have different flowering periods, but what characterizes the Christmas cactus is that its flowers bloom just as the end of the year festivities approach, hence the name of this wild plant from Brazil and other parts of Latin America that was imported to Europe as a houseplant.

You can admire the flowers of the Christmas cactus between December and January. Their colors can range from pink to red and from purple to red-violet. So that the flower buds do not wither before blooming, the Christmas cactus should be kept away from drafts and sources of heat. Therefore, the Christmas cactus should not be placed near a door that is frequently opened or too close to a fireplace, stove or radiator.

2- Where to put it?

The ideal temperature for the indoor Christmas cactus is 20 ° C. To prolong the flowering of the cactus in the winter period, you should place it in a bright room. Later in the summer, the Christmas cactus can be placed outdoors in a partially shaded position so that excessive exposure to direct sunlight does not cause leaf scorch. In autumn, from the beginning of September, the plant can be moved indoors. The reduction of the hours of light and its exposure to the sun means that its flowering is delayed until the Christmas period.

One of the perfect places to keep Christmas cacti in your home during December and January is on the inside windowsill so the flowers can take advantage of daylight to bloom through the winter.

The elevated position of the plant is essential if you have pets such as dogs or cats. Ingestion of certain parts of the plant can cause diarrhea or vomiting in pets. Therefore, it should be placed in such a way that pets cannot easily reach it. If there is any problem consult the vet immediately.

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3- When to water Christmas cacti?

The Christmas cactus is native to the tropical rainforests of South America, and therefore prefers a humid climate. For this reason, it is necessary to pay special attention to irrigation, both in summer and in winter. In winter it is advisable to water it regularly, preventing the saucer from absorbing water, but keeping the soil moist. In summer, proceed in the same way, with the possibility of spraying a little water on the leaves. In summer, the best time to water the Christmas cactus is at night.

It is important to avoid stagnation of water and water regularly, but not excessively, especially during flowering. Overwatering can cause root rot, which can lead to plant death. The flowering of the plant can sometimes last from December to February. In any case, once flowering is over, the risks can be reduced.

The Christmas cactus likes soils with an acidic pH and, if possible, containing peat. The use of natural fertilizers during the flowering period is optional to ensure plant nutrition. Fertilization should be stopped when the flowers drop. If you want to fertilize, it is better to do it in spring and summer when physiological growth is underway.

4- How to propagate and multiply your Christmas cactus?

If you want to propagate your cactus it is quite possible to do it at home using last year’s stems that have dried for a few days before planting. Proceed as follows:

  • Take a stem of the plant about 10 – 15 cm long.
  • Set the cutting aside for at least 48 hours.
  • Once it has dried, you can plant it with a mixture of sand and bury it 3 cm deep.
  • Propagation by hand pollination

Another way to propagate your Christmas cactus if you have two or more plants with different colored flowers is to use hand pollination. Specifically, you must use a small brush to collect the pollen from one and place it on the other, and wait for the plant to bear fruit. These will have small seeds that can be planted in the spring.

5- Shelf life

Christmas cacti can have a very long lifespan of up to 20 or 30 years, making them an even more symbolic Christmas gift.

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