How to Care For a Christmas Cactus

maintaining 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!  

10 Simple Tips for How to Garden in Small Spaces

If you live in an urban area, don’t want the maintenance of a big garden, or simply don’t have the space for very many plants, your green thumb might need a little help growing the garden of your dreams in the space that you have. With the right design and the proper planning, however, you can do a lot with small space gardening. Here are some helpful tips to get you growing:

1. Decide what to grow

Choose appropriate plants for where you are going to plant them. Some plants must be planted side by side, while others, such as climbing vines, can be planted vertically, giving you color and texture and saving space at the same time.

2. Decide where to grow

If you live in a city apartment, you may only be able to grow plants on your porch or balcony, but if you have a small yard, you may be able to plant directly in the ground. Growing can be successful in either place but location does affect what varieties of plants you can grow.

3. Watering considerations

All plants need water so determine where you will get it from before you plant. Ideally, choose a growing place that is close to an outside water source or not too far from your door if you have to water with a watering can.

4. Decide how to grow

Some plants take a long time to produce either flowers or fruit, while others take less. Decide ahead of time whether you want to plant something that will grow and produce all season, or whether you want to rotate crops. This is true for both flowers and vegetables.

5. Planting budget

Determine how much you want to spend and then find the best price. Sales around holidays such as Memorial Day, Father’s Day, or July 4th are great for saving you a little money.

6. Time and maintenance

If you’re short on time as well as space, choose plants that require less for daily maintenance, are drought and disease tolerant, and can be planted in pots where weeding will be less of a concern.

7. Function or beauty

Before shopping, decide whether you want plants that provide function, beauty, or both. For example, some lilies are beautiful to look at but can also be put on top of salads so you get two-for-one in the same space.

8. Plan for sunshine or shade

Pay close attention to how much sun your chosen garden spot gets every day and at what time of day it gets it. This will help you choose whether you need to buy full-sun plants or ones that are shade tolerant.

9. Use existing structures

Look at how you can add to or enhance existing landscape features. Planting vines that grow up a wall or annuals around an existing lawn statue can provide more color and texture without taking up a lot of space.

10. Have fun

Gardening should be enjoyable so have fun with it! Remember, it doesn’t have to be perfect the first time- evaluate what works and what doesn’t and soon you’ll be gardening like a pro!

Now, it’s time to get to work! Following these simple tips will get you growing in the right direction but if you still need a little help, give us a call or stop in to the garden center.