Louise
Louise
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Asked on Nov 4, 2012

I have a Xmas cactus that's probably 25 yrs old. For many years now, it's bloomed at Thanksgiving. This year,

Pat GLinda@nothingbutblueskyesLouise
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Answered

I think it will happen even before then. It lives on the deck all spring and summer and just came inside maybe a week or 10 days ago. I've noticed that there are some "leaves" that aren't nice and green. They're almost a muddy red and they're also thinner than the green ones and a bit dryer. Should I cut them off? None of the buds are attached to those, so they must not be very healthy. I've never noticed this in prior years. I'm a very bad plant mom and nearly never fertilize. I don't know the last time this one was given any. Should I give it some now or wait until the blooming is over?
i have a xmas cactus that s probably 25 yrs old for many years now it s bloomed at, gardening
17 answers
  • 360 Sod (Donna Dixson)
    on Nov 4, 2012

    Yes cut them off. Has it lived in that same pot for 25 years? If so I think i would consider moving it to a larger pot or at least freshening up the soil.

  • Louise
    on Nov 4, 2012

    This is its second pot, but it's been in this one probably for at least 5 years or maybe more. It doesn't seem crowded, but then, I'm not an expert by any stretch.

  • Mary Insana
    on Nov 4, 2012

    You've had this for 25 years and I can't grow one for more than 4 months !

  • I had one for almost as long! "They" say come september you are supposed to increase the watering....not keeping it soggy, just don't let it dry out too much. It probably needs some food. I would get some fresh cactus/succulent mix, replant it in a slightly bigger pot and give it a decent drink. It should spring back.

  • Louise
    on Nov 4, 2012

    Mary, this has been effortless to grow. When I bought it, I also got one for my cousin and she still has hers, too.

  • Mary Insana
    on Nov 5, 2012

    Louise, when I get one you can walk me through keeping it alive ! lol

  • Louise
    on Nov 5, 2012

    OK, will do. My method is buy it, put it in a pot, water it when I think about it, put it outside in the spring/summer/fall, bring it in and watch it bloom. Then next spring put it outside again and continue the cycle. :-)

  • Rachelle D
    on Nov 5, 2012

    My dad has a christmas cactus that came from a cutting from one his grandmother had, Dad is 76 now. He says the key is don't overwater and let the soil get dry between watering, and never fertilize. They don't grow big root systems so don't need to be repotted frequently but if you need to always do it a few weeks after it blooms and before you put it outside for the summer. He puts under a bush in the north side of his house in the summer and brings it back in right before first freeze. It blooms like crazy every year. I have a cutting that he gave me 12 years ago and I follow his instructions and mine is beautiful too. :-)

  • Louise
    on Nov 5, 2012

    Mine has always done just great by basically doing what your dad said to do. Except my method is more like nearly neglecting it and watering it when I remember to. This is the first year it's shown any irregularity. Can "irregularity" be used with plants, I wonder? :-)

  • Douglas Hunt
    on Nov 5, 2012

    Louise, I would re-pot when it finishes blooming, and then continue your (benign) neglect. Christmas cactus do like to be a little pot-bound, but five years is probably pushing it, and the soil has been pretty much depleted of nutrients.

  • Linda@nothingbutblueskyes
    on Nov 5, 2012

    I just blogged about my cactus! I have repotted only once since I have the plant, but it has increased at least 2X it's original size since I got it, also. Right now, it's blooming away. I agree with Douglas--they do like to be pot-bound. I THINK it encourages the blooming. But, I'm no expert!!

  • Rachelle D
    on Nov 6, 2012

    Agreed Douglas, after 5 years it could probably use some new digs. LOL!

  • Louise
    on Nov 6, 2012

    I didn't know the soil in plants needed to be changed occasionally. :-( Should I do that for all of my plants? The only time my plants get new soil is when I put something in a larger container and sometimes I see that over a while, there doesn't seem to be as much soil in the planter as there should be so I add some. Maybe it's compacted over the years? If that's the case, should I take the plant out and mix in new soil or simply add ALL new soil to it? My poor plants. They probably wish they had a more attentive mom. I have several very old plants and want to keep them alive.

  • Douglas Hunt
    on Nov 6, 2012

    All plants deplete the soil to some extent, Louise. In nature the soil is replenished through various ways, but that doesn't happen in a container. Here's a good description of how to add soil to a container: http://www.asktonythegardener.com/Article/tabid/55/smid/370/ArticleID/99/reftab/100/t/Adding-Soil-To-Container-Plants/Default.aspx

  • Louise
    on Nov 6, 2012

    Thanks. I'll read this.

  • Linda@nothingbutblueskyes
    on Nov 6, 2012

    Douglas - I appreciate your expertise. Thank you!

  • Pat G
    on Jan 6, 2015

    Did it freeze, or get too dry?

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