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How to Care For a Christmas Cactus
Indoor gardening is a popular pastime for many avid gardeners, especially in the Northeast where cold and snowy winters keep many of us inside for several months. Being able to keep something growing all year long, however, is a great way to beat the winter blues. Christmas cacti are an easy houseplant option.
Christmas Cactus Basics
Contrary to what their name would lead you to believe, Christmas cacti are not actually desert plants. They do like warmer daytime temperatures, but prefer a humid climate, not a dry, desert-like one. There are actually several different types of cacti with holiday names, including Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Easter cacti. They are differentiated by the appearance of their leaves and their typical bloom time.
Christmas Cactus Growing Conditions
Fortunately, Christmas cacti aren’t terribly picky about the soil in which they are planted. They do require proper drainage, however, so be sure their pot has drainage holes. When planted indoors, the cacti should have access to bright but indirect light and be kept at a daytime temperature of around 70 degrees F. Nighttime temperatures should be between 60 and 65 degrees F for ideal growing conditions.
Christmas Cactus Care
Although it is easy to grow, a Christmas cactus is not a plant-and-forget type of houseplant. You should check the soil periodically to be sure that it does not become too dry. Once the top inch of soil is dry to the touch, soak it until water comes out of the drainage holes in the bottom of the pot. You will want a drainage tray under the pot to catch excess water, but be sure the pot does not sit in water very long as the roots can rot. Proper watering is important all the time, but especially when the plant is flowering. Prior to and during bloom times, it is also important to keep the plant cool (around 60-65 degrees F). Just like other plants, Christmas cacti grow better when they are fertilized. From spring to early fall, you can feed them with a houseplant fertilizer every two weeks, reducing to once a month during fall and winter. Yearly pruning (typically in June) can also be done to encourage new growth, branching of stems, and more blooms. Whether you are new to indoor gardening, or you’re a seasoned expert, we are here to answer any questions you may have. Stop by our garden center to get your Christmas cactus and get growing!