Holiday cacti

Fri. Dec. 20, 2019

Click below to listen to my 2 min. Garden Bite radio show: Holiday cacti

There’s been a lot of chatter on Thanksgiving vs Christmas vs Easter flowering cactus. I think the main thing we can all agree on is how lovely they are and it gets even better. There are some of these plants that have lived over 100 years! Say WHAT? Say uh huh!

 Although true cacti, these plants are native to rainforests. Think jungle not desert! The need for high humidity, bright but filtered light, and soil kept relatively moist most of the year sets these plants apart from the majority of cacti and succulents.

My Thanksgiving cactus isn’t getting as much light as it should but it’s trying!

People often complain about the lack of flower blooms. It is important to understand how light, temperature, and overall plant health affects blooming. In comes the University of Minnesota Extension, once again! I’m thinking of giving them a superhero cape! Although I will note that they have identified one of the holiday cacti incorrectly on their website! Shhh, don’t tell anyone, we all make mistakes! Anyway… Holiday cacti are called “short day plants.”

Christmas cactus U of MN

To produce flower buds, they require shorter days (fewer hours of light) and cool night temperatures. As for watering, place plants in a sink to drain when watering. Remove excess water from saucers and decorative pots.

Connie’s cactus – yes, it’s a Thanksgiving cactus

Excess water may result in dropping flower buds, wilting and root rot. Allow soil to dry out between watering. After the plants have finished blooming, water less frequently, increasing again in spring or early summer when the plants resume more active growth.

Once flower buds have started to develop, holiday cacti don’t like to be disturbed. Plants may drop buds due to drafts or sudden changes in temperature or humidity levels.