Christmas Cactus??

peter4(6a MI)February 9, 2010

My dauaghter received a Christmas cactus for Christmas, and since then, it has gone from good to bad. She gave it to me yesterday to see if I could do anything with it. First, the ground that the small pot was in felt like a brick, and was totally dry - so I put the whole thing in a large bowl with water. It finally sopped up all the water, but now what do I do. My thought is to try to get all or most of the original soil?? out first, and then put it in some new soil. Any help would be appreciated because I have never grown up - how damp should it be, direct or indirect sunlight, etc.

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rawb(5, Erie shoreline)

Hey Peter.. I am no cacti expert.. but I just read someplace about someone asking about their cacti. The reply mentioned.. probably don't want a shallow container or a medium that retains water. I think cactus like water but don't like their feet staying wet for to long... Like I said no expert, but I associate cactus with deserts so I would think they would like some sun.. Is there a cactus forum here.. try asking there.. or you might try the container gardening forum an look for post on Al's gritty mix. It isn't suppose to retain water an I know alot of people like it!

    Bookmark   February 10, 2010 at 6:21PM
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paul_(z5 MI)

Sounds like it was planted in peat moss which would be a problem.

They aren't desert cacti but rather from the tropics. As I recall, in nature they grow as epiphytes on trees. As such they like moisture BUT do not like to stay wet. I've grown the "thankgiving" cacti in a mix of potting soil and orchid bark, but have seen all sorts of media used. I've never tried Al's mix but have heard good things about it.

Lightwise, bright indirect light is desirable. Strong direct sun will cook them.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2010 at 7:58PM
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linda_schreiber(z5/6 MI)

Paul is right. It's not really a cactus, but just a tropical succulent. The rock-hard soil does sound like a bit of neglect.... But after they flower, they do go into a kind of rest period, and can look weak, sort of grayish-green, and even drop some branches.

They don't start to recoup for a month or two, and it's not a good idea to repot while they're resting. For now, I would just treat it like any houseplant that isn't actively growing. Don't overwater it but don't let it dry down *too* much. Too little is better than too much for now. Keep it away from heat vents and door drafts, and just let it be for a while.

When it looks like it's beginning to recoup or around late March, repotting with better soil sounds like a good idea. Try not to do too much root damage, but break up the soil and get it in better potting soil.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2010 at 5:12PM
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peter4(6a MI)

Thanks everybody!!! It's looking a lot better now after a few days. I loosened up the "soil" and cut back on the watering, so I think I'll leave it the way it is for now and just keep a good eye on it. I am planning on giving it back to my daughter, so who knows how long it will last then!!! Thanks again.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2010 at 7:02AM
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