The Christmas cactus is a popular houseplant that produces beautiful pink or lilac flowers in winter. You must feed it with a houseplant fertilizer to bloom into a healthy plant. However, can you use orchid fertilizer on Christmas cacti? We've done plenty of research to find you the answer!
Yes, you can use Orchid fertilizer on your Christmas cactus if the nutrient content is suitable. You might prefer to stick to a cactus-specific product, but some orchid formulas are also effective.
Please keep reading to learn how possible it is to use orchid fertilizer on your Christmas cactus. Included are when and how often you need to feed your plant with fertilizer and what else you need to do to maintain a healthy plant. With that said, let's dive right into this topic below!
Can You Feed Christmas Cactus With Orchid Fertilizer?
Orchid fertilizers can be used on plants other than orchids that thrive in acidic soils. Thus, you can use it on Christmas cacti because it grows well in acidic soils, ranging between 5.5 and 6 on the pH scale.
A houseplant, including your Christmas cactus, can grow healthy by feeding it with fertilizer that has a 20-20-20 formula. This means the fertilizer has equal quantities of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium at 20%. A 20-10-20 formula can suffice as well.
Most orchids are epiphytes, meaning they grow by being suspended in the air. But, a few terrestrial varieties, such as paphiopedilums and cymbidiums, grow in the soil.
These types require a fertilizer with a 20-20-20 formula. Therefore, you can use an orchid fertilizer on your Christmas cactus with this formulation.
Typically, an epiphyte orchid such as a moth-orchid needs a fertilizer of 30-10-10. This is because they need a lot of nitrogen while growing.
When And How Often To Fertilize Christmas Cactus
Now you learned that aside from a houseplant fertilizer, you can use an orchid fertilizer on your Christmas cactus. This is recommended only if the formulation is 20-20-20.
If you are wondering when and how often to fertilize your cacti:
First, read the instructions on the label. One of the instructions is to fertilize your plants once every month. Start applying fertilizer as soon as you spot new shoots towards the end of winter or early spring.
During summer, change the application frequency to once a month. During its growing stage, fertilize each month with Epsom salts.
Add a teaspoon of water to one gallon of water. However, don't use Epsom salt the same week you add fertilizer.
Will Fertilizer Help A Christmas Cactus Bloom?
Growing a Christmas cactus in your home is nice because of the beautiful flowers it produces around the holidays. The flowers make a room feel alive or make it look more appealing.
To ensure your plant blooms in season, do you only need fertilizer, or is there another factor to consider?
The answer to your Christmas cactus blooming each year is the light and temperature. This plant grows well in a cool environment with fewer hours of sunlight daily.
This means your plant should only have eight hours of light every day. The dark hours should be longer, around 16 hours. Turn off the lights at night in the room your plant is in.
Furthermore, place your plant in a room with temperatures around 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Hence, don't place it where there are hot or cold air drafts.
How To Take Care Of Your Christmas Cactus
To grow a beautiful and healthy Christmas cactus, you must fertilize it. However, it would help if you did more than this to maintain your plants in good health throughout the year.
The tips below can help:
Prune your plant to remove dying stems, branches, leaves, or flowers to promote the growth of a healthier plant.
The right time to prune your Christmas cactus should be just after it has bloomed. This is the period it starts growing to produce new leaves. It helps the plant branch out well.
If you can't do this after your plant blooms, you may prune towards the end of spring.
Most cacti grow in dry areas without a problem.
The Christmas cacti, however, need an adequate amount of water. Therefore, water your plant each week in the spring and summer, and then stop watering in the first week or two of October.
But, as soon as the buds start blooming into flowers, resume watering your plant once a week. When your plants stop flowering, reduce the watering frequency to two times a month.
This is to prevent overwatering your plant.
Christmas cacti thrive in a humid environment. Place your potted plant on a saucer with pebbles. When you pour water into it, it drips through the soil and finds its way onto the saucer.
Alternatively, add water to the saucer. Either way, the water will evaporate, increasing the humidity levels.
Avoid exposing the plants to too much sunlight. The sun's rays can damage the leaves.
On the other hand, do not entirely keep them away from the light, or they will not blossom well and will produce sparsed flowers. They need some light, but not too much of it.
In addition, place them in an area with temperatures between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
Therefore, keep them away from areas with high heat, such as fireplaces or rooms where you use appliances that produce heat.
Why Is My Christmas Cactus Limp?
You are doing your best to grow a healthy-looking Christmas cactus, feeding it with the correct fertilizer. But, when the plant starts withering, wrinkling, or limping, then something is wrong.
Below are several reasons that can cause this problem and how to remedy them:
Not Enough Water
If you are not giving your plant enough water, it will start exhibiting unwanted symptoms like wilting before becoming limp.
This plant can survive without water for up to 2 weeks, though the air shouldn't be too dry. So, even if it can go that long without water, add water immediately. The soil feels dry to the touch.
Too Much Water
Unbelievable as it may sound, if you overwater your Christmas cactus, it can start wilting. Too much water causes the roots and stems to rot. If the saucer on which your potted plant stands does not dry up during the day, you are overwatering.
If you don't take action quickly, the stems will become soft and mushy. In severe cases, the stems will rot and produce a foul smell.
You can try saving your plant by getting rid of the rotting parts. Carefully remove the plant from its pot, and shake the roots to loosen the soil.
Examine the roots and cut off those that are soggy with a sterile knife. Rinse the roots in clean running water that's at room temperature.
Next, allow the plant to dry for several hours or leave them to dry overnight. You may cover the healthy roots with a slightly damp towel to prevent them from overdrying.
Afterward, place the plant in a new pot with new soil and very little water. The water should be enough to keep the dirt and plant moist.
Wait for two days before you can start watering your plant again. Your plant should recover and continue growing normally.
To Wrap Up
You can use orchid fertilizer on a Christmas cactus, provided the nutrient quantities are suitable for your plant. Aside from feeding fertilizer, to grow a healthy cactus, you need to take good care of it.
Too little or too much water can cause your plant to wilt and finally go limp.
Finally, for your plant to continuously bloom in season, place it in an area that receives fewer hours of light and more hours of darkness.
And while we have you, check out these related articles!