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Location: North Carolina, US

New to Christmas Cactus

My mom bought me a Christmas Cactus the other day, and I've been doing a little research, but all in all, I'm confused. I've heard everyone say this is an easy plant to care for, so I'd really hate to be that one person that fails on something easy. LOL I have a Ficus and a few Norfolk Island Pines, and they're all alive and well, so maybe I can do the Cactus!

I'm really excited about the Christmas Cactus because this is my first house plant that actually has flowers! And I've heard they can live for years and years. So cool.

Basically, I know they don't require a lot of sunlight, but they need the most while blooming - bright, indirect sunlight, that is. In order to bloom, you have to place them in a dark, coolish room before time to bloom? Like how long? A month or two?

And here's where the trouble comes in for me, the watering! Someone told me all they do is mist there Christmas Cactus and it's been living for years, but I've read online, you need to water throughly after the top soil becomes dry during the growing season? Less during the rest of the year? I do also know on all my plants, misting should never replace an actual watering. Please break it down for me.

During blooming season, how often should you water them?

While in a dark room, how often should you water them?

After blooming season, while it's resting, how often do you water them?

And during growing season, how often do you water them?

Should I mist it daily?

Thank you!


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Location: Oregon

Holiday cacti are jungle epiphytes. They grow in the trees of tropical rainforests. They do best in a very rapidly draining mix of coarse organic material, with a slightly acidic pH. I water mine by submerging the pots up to the rims in water until no more air bubbles break the surface. I only water about once every 2 or 3 weeks. I maintain the same schedule year-round, because in the summer the plants are actively growing, and in the winter, they're blooming. When they stop blooming, I give them a rest and water about once a month, but I'm not very attentive to them. (Once, I let them go approximately 6 weeks without watering, and it didn't seem to bother them. That's not something I would actually recommend, however.)

I never put mine in a dark room. The shortened day length from September through October is enough to cause them to set buds. They also like the cooler night temperatures during those months.

I never mist my holiday cacti. They might benefit from being set on a humidity tray, if your home is very warm and dry. It rains all winter where I live, so lack of humidity is not a problem for my plants. :)

Here are links to a couple of recent threads that might provide you with some additional information:
"Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?" - Douglas Adams

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