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Farmers Almanac
The 2014 Farmers Almanac
Farmers' Almanac

Keeping Poinsettias and Christmas Cacti

Keeping Poinsettias and Christmas Cacti

Christmas is over, but that doesn’t mean you have to toss your new poinsettia or Christmas cactus out for compost. With a little information and care, you can keep these festive plants blooming year after year. Here are some tips to help:

Poinsettias:
For the rest of the winter, keep your poinsettia in a warm, well-lit room away from drafts, and water it regularly. The soil should be kept moist, but never wet. Water it just until the water begins to drain out, and don’t allow the pot to sit in the water.

Once the nighttime temperatures reach 55° F, transplant your poinsettia into a larger pot with a loose, fast-draining soil, and set it outside in indirect sunlight. Fertilize about once every two weeks.

Once the weather becomes consistently warm, in about mid-April, or May, Cut the poinsettia back to about six inches. Continue to prune it throughout the summer to prevent it from becoming sparse and spindly, but do not prune it once September begins.

Move the plant indoors before the first frost, and keep it in a dark closet each night for at least 14 hours. Take it out in the morning and leave it in indirect sunlight for up to 10 hours. These long, dark nights will promote blossom growth, giving you a festive plant in time for next Christmas.

Christmas Cacti:
Place your Christmas cactus in a warm, well-lit room away from drafts and direct sunlight, which can burn the leaves. Remember that Christmas cacti are not true cacti, and do need regular watering. Be careful not to oversaturate it, though. When the soil becomes dry, it’s time to water again. Because it is a tropical plant, your Christmas cactus will enjoy humidity. If the air is dry where you live, keep a plate or bowl of water nearby. The evaporating water will add moisture to the air.

In the summertime, you can place the plant outdoors in a shady location and feed it a basic houseplant fertilizer about once a month. Move it back indoors before the first frost. To encourage the plant to bloom in time for Christmas, keep it in a closet or other dark location for 12 hours each night. A cool room, such as a basement, is ideal, because temperatures of about 50-60° F promotes flower growth.

8 comments

1 brandy { 03.16.14 at 2:34 pm }

My cactus has been blooming for four months

2 Maribeth Stack { 03.12.14 at 9:44 am }

I have a Christmas cactus that was my mother’s. It has bloomed around Christmas consistently. I have it upstairs with an eastern exposure and the sunlight it gets comes through sheer curtains. Seems to be working. Also, you can cut off (or pinch) about 2-3 leaves together and transplant in a smaller pot to get more plants. Just keep the new plant watered pretty well, whenever it gets dry if it is in a smaller pot. You can also put the leaves in a water glass or container to root and move to a pot with soil after roots form.

3 USAclimatereporter { 08.09.12 at 6:32 pm }

i never knew these plants exist i did not know what to do with them

4 Karen { 05.17.11 at 10:53 pm }

My Christmas cacti has been blooming since October 2010 and it’s May 2011 still blooming. The point is I don’t recall what I did different.

5 Jaime McLeod { 01.12.11 at 8:27 am }

If you try the method described in this article – making sure that the plant has at least 12 hours per night of complete darkness during the fall – you should get some decent blooms.

6 StephWigstadt { 01.11.11 at 6:55 pm }

I have had a christmas cactus that did not bloom until I moved it to another spot. If the cactus does not like the spot it’s in, it will not bloom. You may want to move it. I only moved mine about 2 feet, and I had beautiful blossoms over Christmas. Good luck.

7 sherry grimes { 01.05.11 at 5:00 pm }

My Christmas cactus was my great grandma’s and she passed away in 1960 (I think) and she had it a long time before she passed away. It is in an old enamel pan and sits is on a old stool that had a wicker seat and the seat in gone. It has always been in this pan. It almost died one year from sitting outside, and my grandmother brought it back to life. I can’t get it to bloom very good.

8 diane { 01.05.11 at 2:34 pm }

I have had my cacti bloom four times one year. the plant is 13years old.

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