QUESTION: How can I make my Christmas cactus grow faster? My plant is very small and I’d like to have it bigger so it looks good on my dining room table. – Amanda C
ANSWER: Christmas cacti never truly stop growing unless they die, and as long as you provide a beneficial growing environment and take good care of your plants, they don’t really have a maximum size, and will continue growing and blooming for more than 20 years. With proper care and the help of a few tips, you can get your Christmas cactus to grow to a massive-sized houseplant.
From early November to late January and from early April to late September, water the soil whenever it is dry to the touch from one to two inches deep, providing a deep drink each time. From late January to early April and from late September to early November, decrease watering to once per week.
Christmas cacti need to be repotted every four years. Increase planter size two inches each time you repot your cacti. If your cactus is growing slowly, you may want to try planting it into a smaller pot to stimulate growth. Changing your potting soil may also help encourage your cactus to grow larger. Try a mix of equal parts sand, leaf mold, and standard commercial potting soil.
Fertilize your Christmas cactus by watering with an epsom salt solution. Create the solution by mixing one teaspoon of epsom salt with one gallon of water. Use this fertilizer once per month from the first week of April through the first week of September. You can also use a water-soluble, all-purpose 20-20-20 fertilizer mixing a half teaspoon of fertilizer with one gallon of water, again feeding once per month from April to September. These fertilizers can be alternated, but don’t use both feeds at the same time and limit to one feeding per month.
Air temperature, whether inside your home, or outdoors, is also important to providing the best environment for your Christmas cactus. During the fall and winter months, keep your cacti in a 60 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit range. In the spring and summer, keep cacti between 70 and 80 but never above 90 degrees F. Holiday cactuses should never have access to over eight to ten hours of bright light each day during the fall and winter, as they need extra time in the dark to start flowering for the holiday season.