Christmas cactus

(Question)

 

My Christmas cactus is not blooming.  Someone told me I need to starve it by not watering it in August and I wondered if this is true.  How long should I not water it?

(Answer)

 

Christmas cactus, or Schlumbergera x buckleyi, do best with weekly watering with a half-strength fertilizer.  Every third week, use clear water only.  A combination of cool temperatures and darkness will encourage these plants to bloom.  It is recommended to move the cactus in September to a place with cool, 60˚F/15˚C nights and only nine hours of sunlight daily.  After approximately two to three months your Christmas cactus should bloom.

To increase the colour in the blooms, reduce water to the plant after flower buds have formed.  Water weekly until after the flower buds begin to swell, then cut back on the water slightly, letting the cactus dry out between waterings.  The blossom colour intensifies when the plant dries once flowers start.  Be sure not to let the soil get too dry as the flowers may drop.