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How to Get Your Christmas Cactus to Bloom

Get your Christmas cactus to bloom again with a few simple techniques.

The holiday cacti rely on changes in light and temperatures to determine when to bloom.

Without these changes, they might not recognize the season they’re in, as they originally come from Central and South America.

Despite their name, Christmas cacti aren’t true cacti; they’re succulents native to moist, cool climates, requiring a bit more care than desert cacti.

They can live for many years and produce beautiful flowers like those depicted here, snapped just this week from my own Christmas cactus.

Tips for Blooming Christmas Cactus

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You’ll often find Christmas cacti at garden centers and home stores around Thanksgiving and throughout the holiday season.

They make great indoor plants and can thrive for years with proper care, primarily prized for their vibrant flowers in white, pink, red, peach, and fuchsia.

Yet, many struggle to get their Christmas cacti to bloom again, despite healthy foliage. What’s the secret to holiday blooms?

Follow these tips to create the right conditions for your Christmas cactus to bloom anew.

Lighting Needs for Blooming Christmas Cactus

Christmas cacti bloom when the days shorten, requiring at least 12 hours of darkness to initiate flowering.

The combination of shorter days and cooler temperatures signals to the Christmas cactus that it’s time to bloom.

If your home remains warm at night, increase the darkness to encourage blooming.

Cool Temperatures and Flowering

Temperature fluctuations, particularly cooler nights around 55 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit, alongside extended darkness, encourage blooming.

Most homes maintain higher temperatures at night, but you can mimic cooler conditions by ventilating the room or using a cooler area like a basement.

Adjusting darkness levels compensates for warmer temperatures, stimulating flowering.

Watering and Humidity Needs

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While water and humidity alone won’t induce blooming, excessively dry conditions or low humidity can cause buds to drop prematurely.

Boost humidity by placing pebble-filled trays under the cactus to maintain moisture levels.

Regular misting and gentle watering also promote healthy growth.

Additional Tips and Suggestions

My dad mastered the art of coaxing his vast collection of Christmas cacti into vibrant bloom each year.

Here’s what he taught me:

  • Use supplemental lighting, such as indoor plant lights or a light table, in a cool, steady environment.
  • Set the lights on a timer for 10-12 hours daily. Starting in September, gradually initiate changes in light and temperature.
  • Maintain humidity with pebble trays and misting.
  • Avoid sudden environmental shifts once buds appear, which can cause bud drop.
  • Keep temperatures cool to preserve buds, gradually acclimating the plant to warmer conditions.

Christmas cacti, with their colorful blooms, add a festive touch to any home. Apply these tips to revive last year’s gift for another year of holiday cheer.