Cactus Care Made Easy: The Ultimate Fertilizer Guide

If you’d like to see your Christmas cactus blossom, you might buy some fertilizer to help it with blooming. I like Christmas cactus fertilizer as well to promote faster growth of the plant and to promote a greener, happier and healthier plant. However, while you can boost growth with fertilizer, you do need to keep a few things in mind for the best results. 

How Often Should I Fertilize My Christmas Cactus

You should fertilize your Christmas cactus once a month throughout the growing season from April to September. During this time, you may need to repot your cactus as it grows too big for the pot. Most of the time, you should repot the cactus in the spring season after blooming except in emergencies where the pot is hindering the growth of the cactus. 

Expert Tip: Don’t fertilize the plant immediately after the blooming season. Christmas cactus require a rest period after blooming from four to six weeks to ensure that it blooms next year. Don’t repot it during this time either.  

You also should avoid fertilizing them during the season when they enter into their blossoming period (after September). You do it this way because it will give you the best flowering, which can happen anywhere from November to early January. 

The reason that you fertilize the Christmas cactus from April to September is that it promotes growth and helps your Christmas cactus store energy for the blooming season. Whenever a plant produces flowers, it requires a great deal of sunlight and nutrients to produce from the energy.  Be aware that you need to buy high-quality fertilizer that will feed the cactus during this time. 

Don’t over fertilize the Christmas cactus. Excess fertilizer can damage critical proteins that the plant needs to protect itself from pests and diseases. When you over fertilize a Christmas cactus, it will burn the sensitive roots of the plant and make it decay. Christmas cactus are also not heavy feeders, so you shouldn’t use too much. 

What is the Best Fertilizer for the Christmas Cactus?

To fertilize your Christmas cactus, you need to look for a balanced or high-phosphorus fertilizer. In general, this fertilizer helps most cacti species to bloom, including the Christmas cactus. 

I would recommend the Grow Co Succulents & Cactus Plant Food. It releases nutrients slowly to the Christmas cactus, and you can use it as an alternative to a liquid fertilizer. You can use it for other plants as well so that if you only have one or two Christmas cactus, you can still get the most from the fertilizer by using it with other plants. 

Nutrients from Fertilizer and How It Interacts with the Christmas Cactus

In general, you need nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium for the Christmas cactus. Each of the nutrients will play a different role in the growth of your cactus. For example, nitrogen promotes plant growth, gives it the necessary protein and helps it to produce chlorophyll and nucleic acid. 

You want a fertilizer with phosphorus because this helps with cellular growth, plays a role in energy transfer and helps the plant to resist diseases. Finally, you have potassium, which plays a role in boosting immunity, promoting the growth of roots and helps the leaf to produce starch and sugar. Provided you use the right amount, you will help your Christmas cactus to grow faster and produce more beautiful blooms. 

X Tips to Fertilize Your Christmas Cactus

Tip #1 Choose the Right Fertilizer

You need to pick a high-quality fertilizer, or it won’t create the desired effect of growth and better blooming. The right balance of nutrients will give you the best results. 

Tip #2 Use a Balanced Fertilizer

A balanced fertilizer consists of a 20-20-20 ratio of three major components: nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. The numbers represent the percentage of each nutrient in the mix. 10-10-10 means less concentration than the 20-20-20 mixture. These three main components that make up a balanced fertilizer play an essential role in your Christmas cactus’ health.

  • Nitrogen helps produce new stems, leaves and flowers. It stimulates the plant’s growth and development.
  • Potassium supports plant processes such as photosynthesis, water transport and helps fight diseases.

You can use a fertilizer with a higher concentration of any of these nutrients to provide your Christmas cactus an extra boost. For instance, use a fertilizer with higher phosphorus concentration to encourage more blooms from your Christmas cactus. However, too much fertilizer harms plants. Make sure to follow the labels in fertilizer to avoid over-fertilizing. 

Tip #3 Fertilize During the Growing Season

The growing months of Christmas cactus fall from April to September. These months make the best time to fertilize our Christmas cactus because it helps our plant increase growth, produce better blooms and enables an overall healthier Christmas cactus. 

  • Increase Growth – fertilizer allows the development of new stems, leaves and flowers.
  • Better Blooms  – fertilizer boosts the production of larger flowers and abundant blooms.
  • Healthier Christmas Cactus – applying fertilizer allows plants to withstand pests and disease so it stays healthy.

Also, take note that your Christmas cactus in its growing season requires bright but indirect sunlight, regular watering and temperature ranging from 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Tip #4 Dilute the Fertilizer

Fertilizers contain concentrated nutrients that our plants need to grow. Too much fertilizer harms it otherwise. We dilute the fertilizer to prevent this problem. When we dilute fertilizer, we just add water to reduce the concentration of nutrients. Christmas cactus roots only absorb a certain amount of nutrients at a time. Diluting the fertilizer first allows the roots to absorb the nutrients without causing harm. 

Fertilizers come with labels with instructions on the amount of fertilizer to dilute. As an example, let’s say you will dilute a 20-20-20 fertilizer. You need to mix it with water in a ratio of 1:10 to 1:20. Meaning, if you have 1 tablespoon of fertilizer, you need to mix it with 10 to 20 tablespoons of water. By following this diluting ratio, we can avoid the following over-fertilizing risks:

  • Root burn: This problem occurs when roots get exposed to too much fertilizer and the Christmas cactus starts to die.
  • Leaf burn: When the leaves start to turn yellow or brown, it shows signs of over-fertilizing.
  • Nutrient lockout: Plants, such as the Christmas cactus, become unable to absorb nutrients because the soil gets too soaked with fertilizer. 

Tip #5 Thoroughly water the Christmas cactus after applying fertilizer

Watering thoroughly after applying fertilizer allows further dissolution and helps reach the roots. Water distributes the dissolved fertilizer throughout the soil so the roots effectively absorb them. This practice also helps further dissolve fertilizer particles that weren’t dissolved prior. 

Thoroughly watering the Christmas cactus after using fertilizer prevents fertilizer burn. Fertilizers not diluted properly harm your plants and turn them yellow or brown until they die.  

Tip #6 Do not apply fertilizer during winter

Christmas cactus goes dormant from December to February. Don’t give your plant fertilizer during these months. It results in growth that is not in line with the natural cycle of the plant.

Applying fertilizer also promotes root damage and the growth of molds. Christmas cactus prefers a cool and dry place when it goes dormant. Using fertilizer creates a moist environment that encourages the growth of molds. 

Conclusion 

Christmas cactus beautifies our homes and adds a touch of holiday cheer. However, they can be tricky to care for, especially when it comes to applying fertilizer. In general, you don’t need to fertilize your Christmas cactus very often. A balanced fertilizer specifically designed for cacti can be used once a month during the summer and spring months. Always follow the instructions on the label. 

By following the simple tips discussed above, you can ensure that your Christmas cactus gets the nutrients it needs to stay healthy and bloom beautifully.

Frequently Asked Question

What Is the Best DIY Fertilizer for Christmas Cactus? 

Coffee grounds make excellent DIY fertilizers because they contain key minerals ideal for plant growth such as nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus, iron, calcium and magnesium. Coffee grounds also help absorb soil contaminants like heavy metals and attract worms that are great for your garden. 

Simply sprinkle some coffee grounds around the base of your Christmas cactus or you can mix it into the potting soil when you repot your plant. 

Are Eggshells Good for Christmas Cactus?

Eggshells can provide a decent amount of nutrients such as calcium, phosphorus and potassium that are essential for Christmas cactus growth. However, it can’t provide as many nutrients as commercial fertilizers. You can powderize the eggshells and sprinkle them around the base of your Christmas cactus. 

Eggshells take a while to break down in the soil so you may need to reapply the powder regularly.

How Can I Make My Christmas Cactus Grow Faster?

You can make your Christmas cactus grow faster by applying nutrients to its soil and repotting it into a pot 2 inches bigger than its diameter to promote root growth. Nutrients may be provided through fertilizers mainly rich in nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus. Also, make sure that the potting soil contains a generous amount of organic matter and drains properly. 

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