The Christmas cactus is a well-known forest cactus popularly regarded as ‘Schlumbergera bridgesii.’ The holiday cacti include; Christmas cactus, Thanksgiving cactus, and Easter cactus. However, there is a lot of confusion surrounding the holiday Cacti. The easiest way to tell the difference, i.e., by examining the leaves as each Cacti leaf has its specifications. Interested in knowing about them, read on.
The Thanksgiving cactus (truncate) has more pointed teeth along the edges of the leaves. The Easter cactus (Gaertner) has a thicker, slightly more upright leaf. It often has a purple or maroon color along the leaf edge. The Easter cactus also has brittle-like hairs, often called cat whiskers, at the stem joints. The Christmas cactus is smooth with scalloped edges.
Most of the “Christmas cacti” sold today are the thanksgiving cacti. This is because they bloom from November through February. This makes them pass as Christmas cacti.
Every cactus plant produces beautiful, colorful blooms and can last up to 50 years or more. The Christmas cactus likes bright conditions but not direct sun. It needs watering about once every three weeks in midwinter and increasing the frequency of water as summer approaches.
To bloom, many of the forest cacti need cool nights as close to 50 degrees as possible. A few forest cacti blooms are sparked up by the length of the night, as long as they are in a place that gets uninterrupted periods of darkness.
How often do you water a Christmas cactus?
Watering your Christmas cactus plays a significant role in contributing to its bloom. The Christmas cactus likes soil that consistently has more moisture. Plan to water your Christmas cactus every 2-3 weeks but only water when the top one-third of the soil feels dry to the touch.
However, how long the holiday cacti need to be watered depends on several factors such as what the potting soil is made of, how big the container is, how much sunlight the plant receives, and how warm the temperature is. The key to keeping a healthy cacti plant is to place it in the right location and water it when the soil mix is dry.
If your cactus is outdoor in a hot, dry climate, you might need to water it every two to three days, especially if the plant has been in the sun.
Why are the leaves on my Christmas cactus limp?
A wilted cacti leaf will not make you happy. Imagine that you have tended to your cacti leaf for so long only to have it become limp or wilted all of a sudden. Wilted or limp cactus is often caused by a lack of water or too much direct sunlight.
To have healthy leaves, you’ll have to water your soil till the water drains out of the bottom of the pot. Too wet soil can result in root rot and, in turn, cause limp leaves. If the water runs straight through the soil and drops almost immediately from the bottom of your pot, this could also be a sign of stunted growth.
Wilted leaves may be a result of too much or not enough water. Hence, you have to regulate how you water the cacti leaf properly. When in bloom, only water the cacti leaf when the soil feels slightly moist. However, when the plant is out of bloom, water the plant when the soil’s top inches are dry.
How can I tell if my Christmas cactus is overwatered?
If you have allowed your cacti leaf to sit in water for so long, leading to soggy soil, it is likely to have a problem. An overwatered cactus will feel mushy. The cacti plant can store a large amount of water as it has a large storage space. However, when the water gets exceeds its capacity, the roots rot, and the cell wall ruptures.
Critical signs of overwatering.
– Mushy or leaking plants
– Rotting plants
– Leaf drop
– Edema: these are blisters and bumps that leave permanent scars on the surface of your plant. They can be awful to the sight.
– Blackening leaves
– Browning at the base of the plant.
Proper watering is a tricky skill that can only be harnessed through appropriate practice. With time, you’ll understand your plant’s water-retaining capacity and hence, serve it better.
Have you been wondering what to do to save your Christmas cactus? See the guide below.
Are you saving an overwatered cactus?
Here is what you should do if you notice that you’ve been overwatering your cacti leaf.
1) Repot with dry soil: this is one of the most effective ways to save your cacti plant. If you notice any of the above symptoms, take the plant from the wet pot and replant it in a dry spot.
After you’ve replanted it, lay it out to dry for a few days before you begin to water it lightly. Endeavor not to leave any rot behind, no matter the size. This is because this can spread and affect healthy leaves. Hence, if you notice any rotten root, cut it away and wait to see new leaves emerge.
2) Get rid of the affected leaves and stems: to keep your cactus alive, you must cut off all the infected areas to prevent the rot from spreading.
3) Start watering properly: to prevent further problems, you need to begin to water your cacti leaf properly. Avoid watering your plant immediately after you have changed its pot. Instead, wait for about a week.
Endeavor is to make sure that your plant does not sit in a water source for too long and never. Keep in mind that your cacti plant should be dry than wet. Underwatering rarely kills the cacti plant.
Christmas cactus problems
When your cactus is affected, it, overtime, ceases to grow as you want it to. A few problems that may be affecting your cactus include;
Rots are the most common problems that can affect your Christmas cactus. Rots can, however, be;
– Basal stem rot
– Root rot
Basal stem rot
This rot develops in cool, damp soil. This is easily recognized by forming a brown, water-soaked spot at the base of the stem. However, this disease is deadly because its treatment requires cutting out the diseased area from the bottom of the plant. Hence, the supportive structure is cut off.
Plants with this disease are hard to save. Root rot makes the plant wither and eventually die. Its sign is a soggy black or reddish-brown root. To protect the plant, you have to remove the cactus leaf, rinse the root and trim rotten areas. Repot the plant after this and observe its growth.
Other diseases of Christmas cactus includes;
Botrytis blight is also known as grey mold. It allows the stem of the cactus to be covered with silvery-gray fungus. If you perceive this disease before it has done really bad damage, you can remove the infected parts to save the plant. Also, improve ventilation.
Necrotic spot virus
Plants with impatiens necrotic spot virus (INVS) display spotted, yellow, or wilted leaves and stems. You may be able to save diseased plants by moving them into a clean container filled with fresh, pathogen-free potting mix.
How to care for a Christmas cactus
The Christmas cactus blooms around Christmas and sometimes around Easter if it is well taken care of. Its tip grows darker as each day passes, until a bud forms. At its bloom, the bud opens to a beautiful flower.
Here are 12 ways to care for your Christmas cactus;
1) Keep the plant in a well-lit location, e.g., near a window, away from direct sunlight.
2) Make sure to keep a tray or bowl of water next to the plant so that when the water evaporates, it provides humidity.
3) Make use of a well-draining container and soil.
4) Add fertilizers to the soil
5) Water the plant with care
6) Cease watering in October and resume light watering in November
7) Pay attention to observe if the bud of the plant has begun to drop. If this happens, water the plant less.
8) Change watering schedules seasonally, i.e., during dry and humid seasons.
9) keep the plant in the darkroom at night
10) When you see flower buds forming, increase light and humidity.
11) Prune the cactus about a month after blooming.
12) Repot every 2-3 years
How to grow a giant Christmas cactus
Did you know that the Christmas cactuses never stop growing? They do not have a maximum size. A Christmas cactus can quickly reach a spread of two feet within a couple of years. The older the cactus, the bigger and broader it becomes.
Did you know that if taken care of properly, your cactus can live for more than 20 years, growing year in and out?
To grow a giant cactus, you should consider the following;
a) Water: avoid overwatering the cactus. This would only result in root rot and kill your plant before it has had time to grow.
b) Repot: having a hugely larger pot than your cactus may hinder the growth of the plant. If your plant is growing very slowly, repot it in a container that is smaller than its current abode.
c) Fertilize your cactus: fertilizing your cactus is equivalent to feeding it. One easy method you can try is the use of Epsom salt. Add a teaspoon of the salt and mix it in a gallon of water. Practice doing this once a month from early April through early September.
d) Air temperature: make sure that the cactuses have access to a regulated temperature to guarantee blooming and bud formation.
Are coffee grounds good for Christmas cactus?
Feeding your Christmas cactus coffee ground can encourage bloom. However, you need to pay attention to not overwater, only use black coffee on your Christmas cactus.
Pay attention to using the right soil. If your soil is acidic, avoid using coffee grounds. When using bare soil, feel free to add a dilated cup of coffee to your Christmas cactus. Before using the coffee grounds, make sure it is cold. To achieve this, endeavor that your coffee has been left to cool and out before applying it to the plant. This helps prevent root rot.
Benefits of coffee grounds on Christmas cactus
– It helps it bloom in season
– It can revive the Christmas cactus if the plant is dying
– It can increase the acidity of the soil
– It acts as a fertilizer for the plant
– It contains magnesium and potassium, which serve as building blocks for plant growth.
Christmas cactus repotting
You can only report your Christmas cactus after blooming has ended, and the flowers have wilted. Never attempt to do otherwise as it will damage the plant. Frequent repotting can also damage your plant.
Here are some tips for repotting your Christmas cactus
– Take your time and be patient with the plant
– Repot the cactus into a container that is only slightly bigger than the current
– Evacuate the plant from the soil and loosen the roots gently
– Replant the Christmas cactus in the new pot, so the top of the root ball is above an inch below the rim.
– Preserve the plant in a shady environment for about three days before proceeding with its daily care routine.
Christmas cactus fertilizer
The best type of fertilizer for this plant contains a fine blend of nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus. An all-purpose fertilizer by JR Peters called the JACK’S CLASSIC is an essential fertilizer for the cactus as it helps to strengthen the roots and leaves of the plant.
Christmas cactus is an adorable, sweet-smelling plant to have in the home, especially when it has reached its full bloom. Will you be planting one today?