Christmas cactus require specific care to thrive. One important aspect of caring for Christmas cactus is fertilization. In this introduction, I will discuss when to fertilize Christmas cactus to keep them healthy and blooming.
You need to fertilize the Christmas cactus only during their growing season. You also need to feed them before they produce flowers. In other words, you need to feed them from April to October every year. If you fertilize them with the right amounts at the right time, it will help the plants produce attractive flowers.
Fertilization of Christmas cactus
Christmas cactus was the subject of three factorial tests carried out over a period of three years with varied combinations of N, P, or K. Fertilization influenced blooming. Both low and vigorous fertilizing reduced the number of flowers.
High levels of nitrogen appeared to have the biggest impact, shortening the time to bloom and reducing the quantity of flowers. Potassium had no impact, and phosphorus levels rose, which shortened the time to bloom and reduced the number of blooms.
Do you fertilize a Christmas cactus when it is blooming?
You can fertilize the Christmas cactus when they are actively growing so that they can produce flower buds. Ideally, you need to feed them from April through October so that they can produce attractive flowers just in time for Christmas. It will boost the flowering process of the Christmas cactus. If you do not apply fertilizer to the Christmas cactus, chances are that it will perish when all the nutrients in the soil deplete.
When you fertilize them, it would give them the right kind of stimulation and perk up the lethargic cactus.
Christmas cacti develop their flower buds during the fall when they go through short daylight hours. To do that, they need to have at least 12 hours of darkness to stimulate flower bud formation. When you feed them during spring and summer, it will be beneficial for the plant’s vigorous growth. Consequently, it will help with the flowering process as well. Christmas cacti conserve energy to support the flower bud formation of the plants.
When you make the plants go through a darker period in cooler conditions along with minimum watering, it would help the plants to come up with attractive pink to red colored blooms. You could feed the Christmas cactus with a bloom formula fertilizer for this purpose.
You could also use a water-soluble that has been diluted. It has to be a 20-20-20 or 20-10-20 one. They would suit these plants well. You may also use a time-released balanced plant food to feed them. Moreover, you may also use a fertilizer that has a high component of phosphorus to enhance the flowering of the Christmas cactus. You could use them to feed the plants from mid- to late-summer.
Can you use Miracle Grow on Christmas cactus?
Miracle-Gro® Succulent Plant Food is a specially designed fertilizer that could supply the right amount of nutrients for the Christmas cactus. To use it, simply add two pumps for the plants you’ve grown in small pots. On the other hand, you could put 5 pumps for plants that are larger than 6-inch pots.
However, you need to adhere to the labeled instructions as well. You may also dip the cuttings in the Miracle-Gro® rooting powder so that it will speed up the rooting process of the Christmas cactus.
What does Epsom salt do for Christmas cactus?
Epsom salt would help to make bigger blooms on the Christmas cactus. However, it would not make the plants flower. When compared to other plants, Christmas cacti have a significant demand for the mineral magnesium. In this context, feeding them Epsom salt would be ideal.
To make the solution you could add 1 teaspoon of Epsom salt into one gallon of water and then apply.
However, never feed the plants Epsom salt the same week that you apply the other regular fertilizers. If your Christmas cactus runs out of essential nutrients, it will change its normal foliage color to a different color. If you come across such a situation, you need to realize that they are lacking nutrients. So, when you apply the Epsom salt, it will fulfill the magnesium and sulfur nutrients.
In addition to that Epsom soil, it will help the plants to absorb more Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium nutrients as well.
Consequently, it would help the plants to look greener and more vibrant in color too. Epsom salt would be more like a secondary fertilizer, as it does not supply the main nutrients. As such, you cannot consider Epsom salt as a substitute for the Christmas cactus. Do not overfeed the plants with magnesium, as it will lead to feed burns in the plants.
Are coffee grounds good for Christmas cactus?
I recommend growing the Christmas cactus in coffee grounds, as it would be beneficial for the plant’s growth. They would ensure that your cactus grew in the right season. Furthermore, it may help the plants revive the drying cacti.
Coffee grounds have several nutrients included. For example, they have potassium and nitrogen included. In fact, coffee grounds act more like a nitrogen source to improve the soil structure.
However, do not apply coffee grounds if their soil is moist as it would lead to mold. Best is to use black coffee for the Christmas cactus. Further ensure that you use cold coffee grounds on Christmas cactus.
Recently asked questions
How often do you water a Christmas cactus?
I suggest watering them once every two to three weeks during their active growing season. However, you still need to ascertain if their soil layer is dry and only then add water. In other words, if you have grown them in 6 inches of soil, you need to first check whether the first two inches of the soil are dry and then apply water. You may use your fingers to check on the moisture in the soil.
Christmas cactus adapted to growing in hot and dry growing conditions. As such you need to ensure that you do not water them when their soil is moist and if you accidentally do so, it could lead to root rot.
The best thing you could do is to water them only when their soil is dry. Further, after you complete the watering session, you need to make sure that the excess moisture is draining away from the pot drainage holes. Christmas cacti hate being in soggy and waterlogged conditions. If you do so, it would result in overwatering, which could consequently lead to root rot.
You should also water them according to the weather, the size of the pot, the quality of the soil mix, and the plants’ exposure to sunlight. If you water the plants properly, it will help the plants to grow firmly and vigorously.
Why are the leaves on my Christmas cactus limp?
Two factors can cause your Christmas cactus leaves to become limp. Their leaves may be limp due to the flowering of the Christmas cactus. Once they produce flowers, they consume a lot of energy for that purpose. Consequently, the plant’s leaves may tend to become limp and droopy after they finish flowering.
So, if you have this condition, you should first let them rest for a few weeks without feeding them and with little water. So, after a few weeks’ time, you would see how they grow as normal plants. Improper watering could be another reason for the plants’ leaves turning limp. So, if your plants didn’t flower recently and if you still experience this condition, you need to realize that improper watering has caused the plants’ leaves to become limp.
Conclusion on when to fertilize Christmas cactus
In conclusion, it’s critical to fertilize your Christmas cactus on a regular basis to make sure it gets the nutrients it needs for strong development and blooming. The active growing season, which usually lasts from spring through summer, is the ideal time to fertilize your Christmas cactus. Apply a balanced liquid fertilizer every two to four weeks after diluting it to half strength.
Since the plant is dormant during the winter, fertilization should be avoided. A further consideration is to avoid overfertilizing, which can result in excessive foliage growth at the price of flower output. You can have lovely blooms for many years by adhering to these straightforward instructions and being aware of your Christmas cactus’ requirements.
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