A Master’s Guide to Growing Blooms on Christmas Cacti:- A low-maintenance houseplant with beautiful, showy blooms, the Christmas cactus is a favorite choice for holiday gifts. In their native habitat, Christmas cactus bloom after the rainy season. However, by adjusting their growing conditions, we can make our houseplants bloom too. To get your Christmas cactus to bloom, you need to change the temperature and reduce the quantity of light it gets. You can train a Christmas cactus to bloom at certain periods of the year, and then you can do it again and again.
As a fascinating plant native to the Brazilian rainforest rather than the desert, the Christmas cactus has little resemblance to its namesake, the cactus. Having said that, Christmas cactus is a real cactus. Cradled in the bends of tree limbs, it grows naturally as an epiphyte, or airborne plant. There are no leaves on the Christmas cactus, as there are on all cacti. Its flattened, jointed stalks resemble leaves. The blossoming ends of these stems give rise to flower buds.
There is no rainy season here, so we have to find alternative ways to get flowers to grow. When it comes to light and temperature, Christmas cacti are finicky. You may get plants to blossom in time for the holidays by adjusting these circumstances.
A Master’s Guide to Growing Blooms on Christmas Cacti
Master the Art of Lighting
- “Day length is the big driver for flowering,” states Dr. Bruce Dunn of Oklahoma State University’s horticulture department. “Flowering is enhanced by cool temperatures (<70°F), water stress, and abundant indirect light, but plants require short day conditions in order to bloom.”
- For flower buds to develop, there should be twelve hours of full darkness followed by brilliant daylight. This final consideration is crucial. Even a temporary interruption to the constant darkness could prevent plants from blossoming.
- “Light control with blackout technology is common among the industry to control flowering,” explains Dr. Dunn. In a domestic setting, controlling the light is substantially less complex. At night, you can give plants the darkness they need by placing a black cloth or box over them.
- Plants can also be kept in a warm garage, cellar, closet, or unoccupied space where the lighting can be adjusted. The development of flower buds begins after six weeks of gloomy night circumstances.
- You can bring plants back inside for display once you see blossom buds. “Scalding leaves can occur if plants are kept in direct sunlight,” advises Dr. Dunn. Displays do best with “4-8 hours of indirect light.”
- Cool weather is ideal for Christmas cacti blooming. For optimal bud development, keep ambient temperatures between 60 and 68 degrees Fahrenheit and do your best to replicate this in the display area.
- Christmas cactus are easily startled and may even lose their blossoms if the weather suddenly changes. Dr. Dunn advises that houseplants, especially Christmas cacti, should be kept out of drafts (hot or cold). To reduce bud drop, transfer plants to their display spot as soon as buds emerge.
Consume Food While It Grows
- While it’s true that bud formation and flowering are the most fertile times for plants, feeding them frequently throughout the growing season promotes healthier growth and improved blossoming in the fall.
- Once plant development activity picks up again in the spring, you can begin fertilizing with a balanced (10-10-10) fertilizer applied half strength. Until August, feed plants once a month while they are growing.
- It is our hope that the plant will begin to focus more on flowering and less on vegetative growth as the arrival of fall draws near. This highlights the significance of nitrogen restriction.
- Although you can simply reduce fertilizer application, some growers find that applying a nitrogen-free bloom-enhancing fertilizer (such as 0-15-10) in the fall helps to stimulate bud formation even more.
Pay Attention to Watering Not Too Much
- Christmas cacti may be native to the rainforest, but that doesn’t mean they need very wet soil to thrive. It is crucial to prevent overwatering plants, especially Christmas cacti because they are susceptible to root rot. When the soil’s top inch feels dry to the touch, water plants during the growing season.
- As you get ready to coerce your plants into blooming in the fall, cut back on watering. Keep in mind that Christmas cacti typically bloom following a rainstorm in their natural environment. Initiating bud formation can be facilitated by inducing mild water stress by reduced irrigation.
- As buds and blooms form, plants become more vulnerable to changes in water levels. While plants need consistent hydration to encourage bloom development, too much water can cause buds to fall off. After buds have emerged, a good strategy for soil moisture optimization is to water the plant twice weekly at the same rate.
Consider the Time
- From the start of light exclusion until the plants attain full bloom, it takes around eight weeks. Once you know when you want your plants to blossom, you may set a reminder eight weeks in advance. For a Christmas bloom, for instance, you can start preparing plants as early as the end of September.
- Ensure dark night circumstances for a duration of six weeks to promote good bud growth. Flowering can last anywhere from five to eight weeks in ideal circumstances.
- You can force Christmas cacti to bloom at any time of year, though they usually only do so around Christmas. Dr. Dunn claims that blossoming can still take place during the summer’s long days if the hours of darkness are strictly enforced from 5pm to 8am.
- More than one blooming season each year can be coerced out of plants. Reducing the length of the day will cause the plants to bloom more frequently.
Tightening and Trimming
- The last piece of advice is to do some little pruning in the summer so that you’ll have more flowers in the winter. In early June, clip the tops of the plant’s stems to remove dead wood.
- Pruning encourages additional branching in plants, which in turn increases the number of shoot tips that can produce flower buds. To grow new plants from cuttings, just transfer the cuttings to smaller pots.
- Although it takes more preparation than with other houseplants that blossom, the spectacular spectacle is definitely worth it when Christmas cactus are forced to bloom. Once you’ve determined the perfect circumstances for your home’s budding, the method becomes really easy.
- “The most important [factor] is day length,” comments Dunn, so keep that in mind. “Especially under conditions of short days and long nights.” When you master it, you’ll be showered with flowers galore.
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