Christmas Cactus

sarahgwDecember 1, 2013

I have a green thumb when it comes to anything BUT Christmas Cactus :/... For some reason mine always seem to die. This year mine hasn't died yet.... so I am hoping to prevent that. So far it has dropped all the blooms, and several of the leafs (full stem) just feel off. I water once every 10 to 14 days. I moved it to a location where it would get more sun inside (yesterday). It has a succulent dirt mix. Looks very healthy minus the branches that feel off.

Is it to late to get buds again?
How do I keep it alive?
What am I doing wrong?

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How dry is the soil? Schlumbergera are from tropical wet areas and as such they want water more often than other desert cacti (but they also like to dry a bit between waterings-- ie not sit in wet soil all the time). With it dropping phylloclades, it makes me wonder if you're keeping it too dry when combined with your 10-14 day system for watering.

    Bookmark   December 1, 2013 at 8:15PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Post a pic.
I would heartily recommend a re-potting into a bark-based mix - the type of bark used in "Orchid Mixes." These plants thrive in loose bark, with regular water and fertilizer.


    Bookmark   December 2, 2013 at 6:31PM
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Top left: I planted the pieces that feel off. Hoping to salvage something.
Top Right: the base of cc
Bottom left: overall picture of cc
Bottom Right: Another fallen branch

I haven't changed anything other than moving it to a sunnier location. It was in a brightly shaded spot. Now it's right next to the window. I also watered and I'm going to start watering once a week. Hoping that helps.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2013 at 5:53PM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

Sorry, but that's not a good mix for them.

The next potting you do on these, pls. add 30-50% perlite, this is too heavy & water retentive for these plants. This may be why you've had problems w/ them earlier. These plants really need to drain well & that's why several of us keep talking about mixes.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2013 at 6:51PM
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Yep, you need to change your mix. I use small bark about 1/4 to 1/2 inch with a bit of potting soil.

You might be tempted to think that the trouble began when you moved the plant, but I think it's in general decline. It'll continue unless you change the mix or you get very lucky and even then it'll be matter of time. Is the saucer attached to the pot? If so, that's troubling, too.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2013 at 10:09AM
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val1(z4 UT)

I bought one from the same grower (I noticed the tag) on Friday. The soil it is in was like a brick, so very hard. I watered it and the soil softened slightly but not by much. Mine is not losing branches but all of the blooms were gone (it was on clearance). Needless to say, this weekend I will be removing the old soil and potting mine up in a 5:1:1 mix since the other plants I have in it are doing great (peace lily and lipstick plant love it) and I like the look of the bark better than potting soil.

I also noticed you have a label with the variety name. So which one did you find? Mine says it is Christmas Fantasy. I hope the label is correct.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2013 at 10:51AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

A set schedule is usually problematic as plants use different amounts of water at diff temps, times of growth vs. resting. If you are prone to underwatering, I'm not sure something that dries more quickly will work well for you. The last pics just look thirsty to me. Moving to a sunnier location would increase need for moisture. After reading the whole thing twice, I think you may be one of those few people who kill plants by not watering enough, vs. the 95% who kill them by rotting the roots with too much (aided by soil that dries slowly, the cons of which are well covered above, for those who are killing plants by 'overwatering.') Repotting might be a good idea but I'd wait until after the (optimistically likely) flower show.

"Water stress has no effect on flower induction and can cause delayed development, reduced flower size, and premature flower bud abscission."
- (Note also that long nights are needed for buds to form, so being in a room with bright lights for hours after sunset can mess things up.)

The tag says Zygocactus but that isn't an accepted genus. To be pedantic (according to Mr. Subjunctive,) you've got a Thanksgiving cactus, Schlumbergera truncata, not Christmas cactus, Schlumbergera x buckleyii, though the name isn't important regarding care except to know that the one you have blooms a little earlier.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2013 at 5:27PM
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