It’s October in the United States. Winter is coming.
So why isn’t my Christmas Cactus blooming?
Why Is My Christmas Cactus Not Blooming?
The most likely reason why a Christmas Cactus is not blooming has to do with three conditions, namely, temperature, lighting, and water. All three have to be just right. Improper lighting, incorrect temperature, or over and underwatering can result in your Christmas Cactus miss out on its blooming season.
Christmas cactus plants grow wild in the Brazilian jungle underforest where the light is filtered (indirect).
To produce flowers, they need indirect light (some direct light is fine) during the day and total darkness at night. At least 12 hours of total darkness.
That means if my cactus is outside, I need to make sure there are no porch lights shining on it or even light coming from a house window.
A full moon probably won’t stop my plant from blooming but even that I should avoid if I can. Indoors, I need to be very careful not to turn on lights in the room where my plant lives.
The interruption can keep my plant from getting the right amount of darkness it needs to bloom.
A good habit I’ve developed when I want cactus to bloom indoors is to cover it with a black cloth bag and put it in the closet at night.
That way it gets the total darkness it needs and I can still live my life.
My cactus blooms best when the temperature is 50-55 degrees Fahrenheit (10-13 degrees Celsius). This applies whether I have it in the house or outside.
The falling temperatures trigger a state of dormancy and tell my cactus “it’s time to bloom.” This mimics the natural conditions of the wild plants’ jungle habitat.
Since my home is not a jungle, it’s up to me to recreate those conditions for my plant as best I can.
I like to water my plants often during the summer when the air is hot, even if they don’t seem to need it. But that’s not the way to get my Christmas Cactus to bloom.
In fact, overwatering can kill my cactus any time of year!
Drier soil is one of the conditions that trigger these plants to create flowers. When Fall arrives, I have to remind myself to hold back on the watering.
A Christmas Cactus thrives in tough love. If I want it to bloom that is.
What’s the best rule of thumb then to keep my cactus healthy and producing flower buds?
A good rule is to only allow the upper one inch (2.5 cm) of soil to get wet in the Fall when I want the cactus to produce flower bulbs.
I can keep track of the water amount in the soil with a tensiometer.
That’s an inexpensive, easy-to-use tool. More accurate than sticking my finger in the dirt!
Finding the right balance between dry and wet soil can be tricky. If it gets too dry, my plant might lose its flower bulbs before they ever bloom.
Too wet, and it won’t make any bulbs.
That’s why I use a tensiometer instead of trying to guess. It’s worth the small investment.
Frequently Asked Questions About Why My Christmas Cactus Is Not Blooming
Will fertilizing my Christmas Cactus help it to bloom?
I like to feed my cactus once right in mid-October. I use a nitrogen-based houseplant fertilizer. I’ve gotten good results from fish emulsion too but only for the outdoor plants as it has a strong odor. And it can be messy to mix for feeding. Once my plant starts blooming, I stop feeding it. All I need to do then is make sure it’s getting the right balance of light, water, and cool temperatures. They usually last about six weeks.
Why is my Christmas Cactus losing its flower bulbs?
It is almost always from over-watering my cactus during the bloom season. In the wild, these plants get a lot of water from rainstorms but it drains away quickly. That’s because they live on trees in the crevices where the branches meet and decaying leaves are caught. Wild Christmas Cactus plants don’t actually root in the soil. The dead leaves hold water too but not as long as the soil in my pots. It helps to mix in well-aged compost to imitate the natural conditions of wild Christmas Cactus plants.
Will pruning my Christmas Cactus make it bloom?
Pruning your Christmas Cactus most probably won’t make it bloom. What matters most is to create the right conditions of temperature, light, and water. I do make a habit of pruning my cactus after the blooms have died off. I’ll cut off some of the branches (or parts of branches) and put them in damp soil mixed with peat moss. Eventually, they take root and become new Christmas Cactus plants I can give away as gifts or just enjoy myself.
If I pay close attention to giving my plant what it needs, it will reward me with a beautiful display of flowers. Maybe even more than once during the year!
Something for me to look forward to as summer comes to an end and the days get shorter.
Marcel runs the place around here. He has a deep passion for houseplants & gardening and is constantly on the lookout for yet another special plant to add to his arsenal of houseplants, succulents & cacti.
Marcel is also the founder of Iseli International Commerce, a sole proprietorship company that publishes a variety of websites and online magazines.