If you want to add a pop of color to your indoor plant decor, then a Christmas Cactus is the perfect choice.
You can grow your Christmas cactus indoors throughout the fall and winter season, then transport it outdoors to take advantage of steamy and hot summer weather. Often, homeowners will purchase a small Christmas Cactus from a nursery or home improvement store, then nurture it to full maturity.
You will find that growing a Christmas cactus is pretty straightforward, but getting it to bloom with full flowers and vibrant color is another matter.
For a healthy, blossoming Christmas cactus, you will need to pay special attention to the potting soil you use.
Sustainable Soil for Christmas Cactus Growth
While the Christmas cactus is tolerant of many soils, you will want to avoid any soil or other conditions that contribute to wet and soggy soil. This means that clay-dominant potting mixtures should be avoided.
Any garden soil mixture and potting location you do use should have very good drainage and should be aerated on a regular basis.
Consider that Christmas cacti are native to tropical rain forests where they grow high up in trees. Therefore, instead of ground soil, these plants grow in composted tree leaves and other organic matter which simulates the perfect soil conditions.
A sustainable soil formulation and environmental conditions means you will spend less time reworking the soil. Over time, the quality of your Christmas cactus soil and the plant itself should improve organically and naturally.
Key features of sustainable soil include:
- Soil that is enhanced with organic matter
- Soil that is not compacted and is well aerated
- Soil that has a layered foundation of ingredients
This type of sustainable soil conditions will provide optimum nutrition, will reduce the need for watering, will prevent land erosion, and encourage a healthy ecosystem for other living organisms.
For a home gardener – sustainable gardening means using leftovers from the kitchen and recycled tree and lawn organics, cover crops, and organic mulch to fertilize the soil you will use to grow your Christmas cactus.
The perfect Christmas Cactus Potting Soil
In nature, Christmas cactus soil is inherently sustainable. That is, it needs no help besides Mother Nature to arrive at the perfect combination of leaves, twigs and other organic matter.
But, for a home garden, you will want to be purposeful in creating the right soil and soil conditions to grow your Christmas cactus. You can certainly do with good gardening soil mixed well with either fertilizer or compostable organic matter.
To create the perfect Christmas cactus potting soil, include some of these natural ingredients to enhance or layer with a high-quality, aerated garden soil:
- Kitchen compost matter
- Decayed green manure (beans, peas, grasses, etc.)
- Animal bedding (wood fibers, sawdust, etc.)
- Mulch that contains organic matter
- Dried, dead plants and leaves
The Christmas cactus will typically grow out from the decayed leaves in the branches of trees, so the above list of organic matter is the best way to duplicate its native environment.
Best Christmas Cactus Fertilizer Mixture
If you choose to use an engineered fertilizer instead, you will want to use the right formulation to guarantee the greenest foliage and brightest red, orange, white, or purple blossoms. And, if you feed it just the right amounts of fertilizer at the right times, then you may end up with a beautiful Christmas cactus floral centerpiece just in time for Christmas.
Consider using a 20-20-20 or 10-10-10 plant food that has been diluted with water to 50% strength for a liquid fertilizer.
Fertilize your plant in the spring after flowering. Avoid any fertilizer after summer to encourage flowering. During the fall, allow the soil to get drier. This will simulate the natural conditions that a Christmas cactus grows in.
A healthy Christmas cactus should produce buds from late September through October. During the winter, your Christmas cactus should get at least 6 hours of indirect sunlight every day for the best flowering conditions.