Date: April 1989 (Revised April 1995)
Source: NDSU Extension Service Horticulturists
You will get the best results with the Christmas cactus if you grow the plant with 3 fairly distinct growth periods. These might be designated as the vegetative growth period, the rest period and the flowering period.
You need to water carefully at all times as water is an important factor in determining the growth periods. Temperature is also important. Comparatively low temperatures are best, 55 degrees is sufficient in winter. Plants will not flower at temperatures of 70 degrees or above.
The vegetative period begins in January and again in the summer months. Water cacti generously . People usually set the plant outdoors in partial shade after the last frost in spring. During this time, apply a weak liquid fertilizer solution at 3 or 4 week intervals.
Bring the plant indoors before danger of frost injury in the fall. Now the rest period begins and continues until early December or until blossom buds begin and continues until early December or until blossom buds begin to develop quite freely. Give the plant subdued light for about a month after you bring it inside, perhaps in an east window. After this, give it full light. There has never been any research to support the old theory that flowering is induced by a "drying off" of the plant. Water regularly during the rest period, but do not over water.
Increase the water supply during flowering and give cacti full light. Too much or too little water, exposure to cold drafts, or insufficient light at this time may cause the buds to drop.
A Christmas cactus plant will thrive for a long time in the same pot if the proper soil was used originally, and if the plant is fertilized and watered regularly. Move the plant to a larger pot if it becomes top heavy.
If you have further questions, please contact your county office of the NDSU Extension Service.
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