Reblooming Christmas cactus is much easier than you may think, and in this post I’m going to explain how to encourage yours to flower again every year.
Getting your Schlumbergera buckleyi to bloom again in time for Christmas depends on 3 main factors: darkness, low temperature, and timing.
Below I will give you step-by-step instructions and show you exactly how to trigger your Christmas cactus to develop buds and flower just in time for the holidays.
Does Christmas Cactus Rebloom?
Yes, your Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera buckleyi) can rebloom annually, but you need to create the right environment for it to set buds.
In its natural habitat, this would usually happen sometime in December. The key to helping it flower again at home is to replicate those conditions indoors.
This means you will need to provide the right temperature and level of darkness to trigger dormancy.
What Triggers A Christmas Cactus To Bloom?
Schlumbergera buckleyi needs to go into a state of partial dormancy, or a short ‘rest period’ for 3-6 weeks, which is what triggers the plant to bloom.
In its natural environment, this happens in the fall when the temperatures drop and the nights are longer.
To recreate these conditions at home, you’ll need to control the temperature and ensure your plant receives enough hours of darkness each night.
Also, it’s best to keep your Christmas cactus slightly pot-bound, as this encourages it to bloom more readily.
When Will My Christmas Cactus Bloom Again?
If you get the timing and environment right, your Christmas cactus will bloom again sometime in late December.
It’s common for them to bloom a second time in the spring, but it’s usually fewer buds.
How Do I Get My Christmas Cactus To Bloom Again?
To force your December cactus to rebloom, you’ll need to recreate the conditions it would experience in its natural habitat during the fall season.
Simply follow these 3 basic steps: make sure the temperature is sufficiently low (below 60°F (15.6°C)), let it dry out more between waterings, and give it 13 to 16 hours of complete darkness every night.
1. Reduce Watering
Starting in early fall, cut down on the amount of water you give your Christmas cactus. This is the first trigger to your plant that it’s time for it to rest.
Don’t let the soil dry out completely – it should be slightly moist but never bone dry or soggy.
The easiest way to get the balance right is to use a moisture gauge. When the reading is in the 2-3 range you’ll know it’s time to water your plant again.
2. Put It In The Dark
The next important step is to reduce the amount of light that your Christmas cactus receives.
For a period of 3 to 6 weeks, move it to a completely dark room each night or cover it with a blackout cloth or blanket and leave it for 13 to 16 hours.
It should not get any light at all during this time, even from artificial sources like street or night lights. Bring it back into bright, indirect light during the day or remove the cover, but avoid direct sun.
3. Keep It Cool
The final factor in stimulating your Christmas cactus to rebloom is keeping it cool enough. The ideal range is between 50-55°F (10-12.8°C) during the day, although as warm as 60°F (15.6°C) is OK too.
At night, keep your plant at least 10°F (-12.2°C) cooler, but ensure the temperature never drops below 40°F (4.4°C).
I find the easiest way to achieve this is to move my plant outside at night, as long as it’s not too warm or cold. You could also put it in an unfinished basement or unheated garage. Use a thermometer to check the temperature often.
How Long Does It Take Christmas Cactus To Bloom Again?
In the right conditions, on average you should begin to see flower buds appearing in about 6 to 8 weeks after triggering dormancy, but it could be sooner.
It will usually take another 8 to 12 weeks for your Schlumbergera buckleyi to come into full bloom again, once most of the buds are open.
When To Put Christmas Cactus In The Dark
You should put your Christmas cactus in the dark 8 to 12 weeks before you want it to rebloom.
That means, to have flowers in time for the holidays, you’ll need to start sometime in October.
To get the timing right on your calendar, simply count back 8 to 12 weeks before Christmas Day.
Related Post: What To Do With Christmas Cactus After Blooming
Why Won’t My Christmas Cactus Flower Again?
Your Christmas cactus won’t flower again if it doesn’t get the proper rest period. Here are the most common issues that can prevent reblooming.
- Too much water – Make sure you give your plant less water than usual and allow the soil to dry out more before giving it the next drink.
- It’s too warm or cold – Keep the temperature below 60F (15.6C) degrees during the day, and at least 10°F (-12.2°C) cooler overnight to encourage the formation of buds.
- Not enough darkness – Keep your Christmas cactus in complete darkness for 13-16 hours every night. Any interruption can delay flowering, even if the light is from an artificial source.
- Recently repotted – Schlumbergera buckleyi prefers to be root-bound, and it may take up to 2 years to bloom again after repotting.
What To Do Once Your Christmas Cactus Sets Buds
It’s very important to give your Christmas cactus the proper care during flowering. If not, it may drop its buds, which can be very disappointing after all your hard work. Here’s how to treat your plant once it sets buds.
- Increase watering – Begin watering it more frequently to keep the soil consistently moist, taking care not to overwater.
- Give it bright light – Once you see buds develop, move your Christmas cactus to a bright spot in your home where it can consistently receive lots of indirect light.
- Protect from extreme temps – Regularly check the temperature to make sure that it is neither too hot nor too cold. To achieve better, longer lasting blooms I recommend somewhere between 60-70°F (15.6-21.1°C).
- Do not repot it – Never repot your December cactus once it has formed buds or while it’s reblooming. If yours needs repotting, wait until the spring.
- Protect from drafts – Keep your plant away from drafty areas or heat vents, as these can cause the buds and flowers to drop prematurely.
Related Post: How To Care For A Christmas Cactus
Here you’ll find answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about reblooming Christmas cactus. If you don’t see yours listed, please ask in the comments below.
When do I force my cactus for Christmas flowers?
You should force your cactus for Christmas flowers around 8-12 weeks before you want it to bloom again. So, for it to flower in time for the holidays, that would be sometime in October.
Is it too late to get my Christmas cactus to bloom?
If it is early November or later and you haven’t placed your plant in darkness overnight yet, then it is probably too late to get it to bloom in time for Christmas. Next year start forcing it in October.
When should you put a Christmas cactus in the dark?
You should put your Schlumbergera buckleyi in the dark overnight approximately 8 to 12 weeks before you want it to rebloom, which is typically sometime in October for Christmas flowers.
What stimulates Christmas cactus blooms?
The main stimulants or triggers for Christmas cactus blooms are cooler temperatures (below 60°F or 15.6°C), 13-16 hours of darkness every night, and less water than usual.
How do you get a Christmas cactus to bloom twice?
You can try to get your Christmas cactus to bloom twice (once in the winter, once in the spring) by providing lower temperatures, darkness, and less water again in late winter. But it’s not always guaranteed that they will flower a second time, and if they do, it’s usually a much smaller display.
How often can you force a Christmas cactus to bloom?
With the right conditions, you can force a Christmas cactus to bloom every year, and maybe even twice a year (once during the holidays and again in the spring). The same plant can continue to do provide you with an annual display for 20-30 years or more.
If you want to learn all there is to know about maintaining healthy indoor plants, then you need my Houseplant Care eBook. It will show you everything you need to know about how to keep every plant in your home thriving. Download your copy now!
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Share your tips for how to get a Christmas cactus to bloom in the comments section below.