Holiday Cactus – Care

Q: I inherited a Christmas cactus when my mother passed away. I do not know how much light it needs or the amount of water. Also, what about fertilizer?

A: I was delighted recently to find flower buds on the holiday cactus I’ve kept outdoors all summer. If your mother did likewise, yours may have swollen buds on it too. Keep it in a cool sunny room until the flowers have opened for your enjoyment. If your mother kept it inside, however, it may not have stored enough energy to bloom this season.

The best care for a holiday cactus is to keep it outdoors in a bright but shady spot during the summer and fall. Water if the soil becomes dry. Fertilize sparingly each month. Bring it into a cool, bright room of your house when night temperatures fall below 60 degrees. Flower buds will form in early November and should begin opening in late November to mid December.

If your flower buds fall off, warm temperatures are the likely cause. After flowering, give the plant a three week rest period by watering only enough to keep the soil slightly moist. After the rest period, begin watering and fertilizing normally. Bring it outside in late April.

Thanksgiving cactus flower

Thanksgiving cactus buds

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