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

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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) 360 Sod (Donna Dixson) on Nov 04, 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 Louise on Nov 04, 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 Mary Insana on Nov 04, 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 Louise on Nov 04, 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 Mary Insana on Nov 04, 2012
    Louise, when I get one you can walk me through keeping it alive ! lol

  • Louise Louise on Nov 04, 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 Rachelle D on Nov 04, 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 Louise on Nov 04, 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 Douglas Hunt on Nov 05, 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.

  • 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 Rachelle D on Nov 05, 2012
    Agreed Douglas, after 5 years it could probably use some new digs. LOL!

  • Louise Louise on Nov 05, 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 Douglas Hunt on Nov 06, 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 Louise on Nov 06, 2012
    Thanks. I'll read this.

  • Douglas - I appreciate your expertise. Thank you!

  • Pat G Pat G on Jan 06, 2015
    Did it freeze, or get too dry?