Holiday cactus in bloom (Photo credit:Rosie Lerner, Purdue Extension)
Q. I would like to know, how do you get Christmas cactus to bloom? - O.S., Floyds Knobs, Indiana
A. A little extra care will help bring your Christmas cactus back to full bloom next year. Although a Christmas cactus can adapt to low light, it will produce more abundant blooms if you know how to manipulate the light they receive.
For now, keep your plants in a sunny, indoor location away from drafts, heat vents, fireplaces, and other sources of hot air. Water them thoroughly when the top half of the soil in the pot feels dry to the touch. You can move Christmas cactus plants outdoors in summer, but keep them in shady or semi-shady locations. Too much direct sunlight can burn the leaves.
When it's time to bring the plants back inside in the fall, help the plants to slowly adjust to life Indoors by gradually increasing the number of hours they spend indoors each day.
Christmas cactus plants bloom when you give them long, uninterrupted dark periods. Begin the dark treatments about mid-October to have plants in full bloom by the holidays. Christmas cactus plants will also bloom if they are subjected to cool temperatures of about 50â„‰ to 55â„‰. at night. Start these cool treatments by early November to have plants ready for the holidays.
For more information about caring for and reblooming holiday cactus, visit www.purdue.edu/hla/sites/yardandgarden/christmas-cactus-faqs