Knowing how to treat your Christmas cactus after blooming means you can continue to enjoy its beautiful flowers every year.
In this guide, I’ll show you how to save your Schlumbergera buckleyi (aka December cactus) after the holidays, and share my tips for keeping it healthy long-term.
From deadheading the flowers to fertilizing, watering, and more, here’s how to ensure your Christmas cactus flourishes after it’s done blooming.
Can You Keep Christmas Cactus After Flowering?
Contrary to popular belief, you can indeed keep your Schlumbergera buckleyi after it has bloomed.
In fact, if you give your plant the proper aftercare it will continue to thrive and may reward you with even more blooms next year.
What To Do With Christmas Cactus After It Blooms
Once your Christmas cactus has lost all of its blooms, you should let it take a brief rest. Allow the soil to dry out more during this time and keep the plant away from bright light.
You’ll start to see new growth about a month or so later. When this happens, it’s time to give it more light and resume your regular care routine.
Related Post: How To Care For Your Christmas Cactus
How To Care For Christmas Cactus After Blooming
To ensure the health of your December cactus as the flowers begin to fade and after it’s done blooming, there are a few simple steps you’ll need to take.
These include removing the spent flowers, keeping your plant out of bright light, giving it less water, and delaying fertilizing. Let’s explore each step in more detail.
1. Pinch Off Dead Flowers
As the blooms start to fade and shrivel, you can either let them drop off naturally or deadhead them by pinching or cutting them off.
Either way is fine and won’t affect future blooming, but I prefer deadheading mine.
Removing the spent flowers keeps your Christmas cactus looking attractive, and – as a bonus – I find it sometimes encourages more buds to open.
2. Protect It From Bright Light
After all of the flowers are gone, move your plant to a shady location outside, or place it in a spot furthest from your brightest window indoors.
As soon as you see new leaves emerging in late winter or early spring, relocate it to an area with lots of light or indirect sun, then leave it there throughout the summer.
3. Reduce Watering
Your Christmas cactus won’t need as much water after blooming, so let it dry a bit more. Do not let it dry out completely though, especially to the point where the segments or stems wilt and shrivel.
There are two easy ways to get the balance right. One is to check the soil with your finger and only give your plant a drink when the top inch is dry. The other is to use a moisture gauge probe and ensure the reading stays between 3 and 4.
Once new leaves start to form in a month or so, you can return to your regular watering schedule.
Related Post: How To Water Your Christmas Cactus
4. Wait To Fertilize
You should also stop fertilizing your Christmas cactus once the flowers have faded. When you see new leaves forming at the ends of the branches – usually in late winter or early spring – you can start feeding it again.
Consistently feeding your plant will help it replenish the nutrients it lost during flowering and promote an impressive display of blooms next year.
5. Cut Back The Foliage
You don’t have to prune your December cactus after it’s done blooming. But I like to cut back the foliage so my plant will branch out and become fuller and more attractive – which also means even more flowers.
Wait until 1 to 3 months after blooming to prune it, then simply snip or pinch off the tips and segments to whatever length you prefer.
Related Post: How To Propagate Your Christmas Cactus
You can remove old, dead flowers from your Christmas cactus by pinching or snipping them off, or you can allow them to drop off naturally. Either way is fine and won’t affect future blooming.
You don’t need to cut back your Christmas cactus after it blooms, but pruning does encourage it to branch out, which means more flowers next year. If you choose to cut yours back, wait 1 to 3 months after flowering.
After it’s done blooming, put your Christmas cactus somewhere out of direct sun, like a shady spot outside, or near a west/east-facing window indoors. Once new leaves start to appear, move it to a place where will get lots of bright, dappled or indirect light.
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More About Houseplant Care
- What To Do With Thanksgiving Cactus After Blooming
- What To Do With An Amaryllis After It Blooms
- What To Do With Cyclamen After Flowering
Share your tips for what you do with your Christmas cactus after it blooms in the comments section below.