How to Care for a Christmas Cactus. The Christmas cactus is a popular holiday plant because its winter blooms often align with the Christmas holiday. Although the plants are often purchased before Christmas for their blooms, it can survive and bloom for many years if given the proper care.
Provide a Christmas cactus with partial shade to simulate its native shady forests. The plant will take a little direct sunlight, but prefers light filtered by a transparent curtain.
Water well to keep the potting mix moist. Reduce water after winter flowering stops. The top of the potting mix should be allowed to dry out between waterings after flowering stops. Resume regular watering in the Spring.
Take care to keep the Christmas cactus away from frequent artificial light when buds appear. Because the plant needs shorter days of light in order to bloom, limiting artificial light, especially at night, allows the buds to reach their full potential.
Encourage Christmas blooming by moving the plant out of daylight a couple hours before dark. Beginning in October, place the plant in a dark room and return to its original spot in the morning. The longer the periods of darkness, the more potential for the cactus to bloom longer.
Ensure the plant keeps the same orientation to the window while it is budding. The blooms of Christmas cactus will reach out for the light if the plant is turned. This will make them weak, possibly resulting in the blooms falling off. When you move the plant to a dark room, make sure the same side of the plant faces the window every morning.