Christmas Cactus Blues

Discussion in 'Cacti and Succulents' started by Plant Manager, Nov 26, 2008.

  1. Plant Manager

    Plant Manager Member

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    I inherited a Christmas Cactus from my mother. It has never bloomed in the 5 years I've had it. At first I thought it was root bound because it was so old. Now that it has been transplanted.....nothing. The plant looks healthy but no flowers. Apparently I not only lack a green thumb, I do not even have a thumb period. Help !!!!!
     
  2. Eric La Fountaine

    Eric La Fountaine Contributor UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Christmas cactus bloom in response to the shorter days of fall/winter. Technically they actually respond to longer nights. If you are not providing them with 12 hours of uninterrupted darkness they will not set blooms. Cooler night-time temps will also help.

    Here is a basic care sheet:
    http://www.torontobotanicalgarden.ca/mastergardener/ChristmasCactus.shtml
     
  3. Chester

    Chester Active Member 10 Years

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    I've found the spending the summer outdoors in dappled sun/shade to be very beneficial for them. They come inside, look great and almost always bloom.
     
  4. Plant Manager

    Plant Manager Member

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    To Eric and to Chester: Thanks for the heads up. signed Plant Mgr.
     
  5. Eric La Fountaine

    Eric La Fountaine Contributor UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    They have generally bloomed naturally for me as well. But the chemical that brings about bud formation builds up in the plant during darkness. It needs something like 12 hours to build up enough to induce bud formation. Interrupting this buildup for even a moment-- while you turn the lights on to get a snack--can interfere with the process. If there is a room in the house that doesn't get used a lot, it can be a great place to put the cactus until they come into bloom. Then bring it into your living area for display.
     
  6. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    I have had a number of these flower every year under ordinary indoor conditions for decades. Re-potting seldom occurs. A few of them date back to when I was in 7th grade. I'll be 52 in January. I have orange, pink, near-red, near-white...but I'm talking about the Zygocactus types prevalent at outlets (Thanksgiving Cactus). Maybe the old Christmas Cactus type (Schlumbergera) is more affected by lights being on at night.

    I would not put these or any other house plants outside where they can be damaged by the sun, low temperatures or slugs, can come in the house with bugs and slugs in them. To me putting house plants out for the summer is like going out in the car with a dog. They're better off being left where they were.

    Here the time where outdoor and indoor temperatures are similar is pretty short, maybe about three months at most. You don't want to shock your plants with sudden changes in temperatures. It's not really hot most years until July and by September it's starting to get late for them to be still out.
     
  7. Bluewing

    Bluewing Well-Known Member

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    Re-potting them can result in a non- flowering set-back, cause them not to flower until the following year. It's best to have them on the root-bound side.
    I'd have mine outdoors all summer (on a picnic table) whcih received about an hour of sun, but at night, it was brought back inside in case of rain and night crawling slugs.

    The Christmas, possibly even the Thanksgiving cactus will keep flowering indoors in a north window if that's all you have available.
     
  8. Chester

    Chester Active Member 10 Years

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    Well there usually seem to be 2 camps. Those that believe in a summer holiday outside, and those that would never consider it. True, one does have to deal with bugs, although there are creative ways to avoid them. Aside from my ferns, and the odd begonia, I've found my plants to respond very well to the summers outside. You just have to find the right spot outside for each plant. Full summer sun will burn many plants surely. I don't put many in the full summer sun. Every location is different, but mine are outside for 3 months, and it is more than worth it.
     
  9. mariateresa

    mariateresa Member

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    Hi.
    I live in South Europe, near the sea. Here summers are warm, sometimes hot and winters are mild. I live in a flat that has a small balcony. That's where I keep my succs all year long. My Thanksgiving cactus rests there from April / May to November. I bring it in when night temp. get below 10º C (50F). It then rests on a north oriented windowsill. Night temperatures can go al low as 12º C (54F).It begins flowering in a massive way in the beginning of November and it goes on till the end of December, naturally. I just let it do whatever it does, and enjoy its beauty. It generally flowers twice a year. Also, I found no difference when I repotted it. To tell you the truth, there are more flowers, now. So, I think it may have been a good thing to do.This is a REALLY easy plant for me.
    I hope you find a way to make it flower, because it really is worthwhile.
     
  10. Plant Manager

    Plant Manager Member

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    Thanks for the info from southern Ontario.
     

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