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I have a Zygocactus houseplant and it surprises me by blooming during either Thanksgiving or Christmas, mostly Christmas. I've had trouble re-blooming last year, so I read the directions and it states to leave it in an area where it will get 13-14 hours of pitch dark/day. Now, I'm kind of confused because I dont know whether its saying to give it 13-14 hrs of pitch dark then alternate to day, or pick one; either 13-14 hours of pitch dark or 13-14 hours of day light (which is impossible). This may be a stupid question, but I had to ask because I really want it to bloom this Christmas. So far, I've had it in pitch dark for 13-14 hours a day. Any help on the directions?

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Well, to be frank, I've never read such nonsense - these plants bloom perfectly well without any requirement for keeping them in darkness for a certain number of hours in a day. Although it is one of the Zygocactus, its actual name is Schlumbergera, and they like bright light conditions, with some dappled sun if possible, though its not essential. They do even better if they're given diluted or half strength plant fertilizer during spring and summer, but they do require a resting period immediately after flowering is over, when watering should be reduced. From mid to late spring onwards, watering should be increased so that its watered at the same level as any other houseplant. This is also the time to give some fertilizer, as mentioned above.

Repotting annually is often necessary, preferably just after flowering is finished, and attempting not to break too many roots when doing so - yours does look a little crowded in its pot, so it probably needs a bigger one. From mid autumn, keep the plant dryish, preferably in a cool room, until flowerbuds start to form, then water as normal and return to normal room temperatures (if you've been able to find a cooler room for it). More info here http://www.cactuscollection.com/info/cacti/christmas.html

UPDATE: Having looked at your pictures again, I notice tiny buds just showing on the ends of the leaves in the last two pictures - it should certainly be in flower by Christmas.

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I have a feeling you might have FERTILIZED WITH THE WRONG FORMULATION. Indoor plants need less fertilizer than those out of doors getting sun. Same with lawns in shade? Too much NITROGEN in proportion to the phosphorus and potassium will result in more VEGETATIVE growth. A lower percentage of Nitrogen in relation to the percentages of phosphorus and potassium will promote REPRODUCTIVE growth (flowers, fruit) Sorry, when I cap words it is for emphasis, I am not yelling, grins. What fertilizer are you using? This plant appreciates being forgotten not babied. I'll bet because you really want flowers for Christmas you gave it fertilizer and ta da! No flowers. Look at your package and tell me what those 3 numbers are; NPK or 5-7-7 or 14-14-14 or 7-6-5. The last set of numbers will cause vegetative growth and in the shade the vegetative growth will be larger and thinner. No flowers or very few. The first two formulations will be appropriate to promote flowers. The first one better than the second. I've got this 'Christmas Cactus' as well. Heck it is the ONLY house plant to make it in our new home, grrrr. Not a lot of light and it hasn't flowered once the four years we've been here. Not because of fertilizer but because this place is hell for plants and we don't have windows to allow enough light. No light, no flowers. But this guy survived when all of my other gorgeous house plants died. Do you understand how horrible that is for a 'professional'? Below freezing at night with a wood fireplace even in the stupid summers! Grinning widely. Please get back to us with your fertilizer regimen and formulation. Otherwise, this guy needs LIGHT. It flowers just fine in normal winters. The daylight night hour thing happens perfectly in the fall and winter thus this plant should flower around Christmas. Don't need to FORCE reproductive growth by manually using light/darkness. Normal winters (not talking about temperatures here) will have the necessary light/dark schedule well in hand for you. I just got a feeling this is about your fertilizer formulation. If it isn't the fertilizer it is a light problem, getting enough light during the light part of the daily schedule. What color is this guy supposed to produce?

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  • I haven't fertilized since I've had it. This plant produces red . Very pretty. I dont see any numbers at all, theres no packaging, just the plant with the instructions. – LOSTinNEWYORK Dec 5 '16 at 22:11
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    @LOSTinNEWYORK - the numbers stormy refers to are on bottles or boxes of fertilizers, its the nutrient content of them in terms of nitrogen, phosphate and potash, known for short as NPK - since you've not used any, you won't have any to look at. But looking again at the pics, I can see tiny buds appearing on the ends of the leaves in the last pic, so its going to flower, probably in time for Christmas – Bamboo Dec 6 '16 at 0:10
  • @Bamboo Oh I see now. I had no clue of the numbers. Thank you and I truly hope they bloom. – LOSTinNEWYORK Dec 6 '16 at 0:37
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    @stormy, you didn't ping me, so I didn't see your comment. Anyway, nope those little bumps that look a little whitish on the tips of some branches are flowerbuds just beginning to form see here goo.gl/images/MCzHj4 – Bamboo Dec 6 '16 at 19:05
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    @LOSTinNEWYORK - stop worrying,you haven't done anything wrong, everyone removes the spent flowers if they don't drop off on their own. – Bamboo Dec 6 '16 at 19:08

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