Christmas cactus is easy to grow, and with very little coaxing, can produce a mass of colorful blooms for the holidays. The popular holiday bloomer is second only to the poinsettia, and with very little care, will live for many years. If you have an existing, healthy plant, or if you have a friend that is willing to share, you can start a Christmas cactus from a stem cutting. Otherwise, purchase a small plant from a garden center or greenhouse.
Twist off a stem from a healthy Christmas cactus, but be sure the stem has at least three segments. Segments are easy to determine because each one is separated by a visible division, or joint. Put the stem on a paper towel and let it dry for a day. This will allow the wound to heal. If excess moisture enters the stem through the opening, it can cause rot.
Fill a planting container with a planting medium consisting of half peat moss and half sand. Be sure the container has holes in the bottom to provide necessary drainage.
Push the stem into the pot with at least ¼ of the segment buried in the planting medium. Put the pot in an area where it will receive indirect sunlight. Keep it out of direct sunlight. Mist the soil lightly with a spray bottle. The stem will wilt at first but should start showing some new growth at the stem tips in about two weeks. Continue to mist the soil very lightly.
Start watering the Christmas cactus normally after it begins to show new growth. Water to a depth of one inch when the soil is dry until the water runs through the bottom of the container. Pour off any excess and don’t allow the pot to sit in water. The plant should be moved to a sunny window at this time.
Feed the Christmas cactus a liquid fertilizer twice a month during the spring and summer months. For specifics, follow the directions on the package label.
Encourage blooms for Christmas by putting the plant in a dark, cool room at night during the months of October and November. The best temperature is around 50 degrees. Don’t fertilize during the winter months and decrease the amount of water slightly.