Forcing a Christmas Cactus to flower

trace00969June 28, 2007

Okay, I cant wait until Christmas, So I want to force my zygocactus into setting buds and flowering. I just want to make sure I am doing this right. I have not given it any fertilizer, maybe a bit of coffee here and there, but nothing special. O know it needs long dark periods to set bud. My plan is to cover it with a couple black garbage bags at about 8pm, and then removing them in the morn. It is off to the side of a south window and growing good, should I move it?? I would prefer not too as it is hanging....thus putting bags over it. Does it need temperature fluctuations?? Should I fertilize it first? If I can start the process tonight....AWESOME!! But If there is more I should be watching for, I will wait, has anyone ever flowered one of these on their own?? Any special precautions I should take??

Thanks everyone!!


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Tracy, I've never tried forcing a Christmas Cactus, but one book I have has info on forcing..they recommend covering at 5pm, and doing so daily for 6 wks..
I think it you force it w/o extended light, including artifical, it has to be covered the exact same time every day. One book said even a minute makes a difference though I dont know if I agree..Good luck..Toni

    Bookmark   June 28, 2007 at 4:44PM
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Guys, it is nowhere near that complicated. Here is the Ancient Xmas Cactus Bloom Secret passed thru the generations to me by my mom...

Number 1 : Find a shady spot in your yard - NO DIRECT SUN. Put plant there, continue normal care - water when dry, fertilize occasionally, watch for aphids, and protect from destructive squirrels (use a BB gun if necessary).

Number 2: When the weather starts to change and cool off, watch the news for frost warnings, leave the plant outdoors as long as possible in the cooler and shorter fall days, bring it inside before the first frost.(most of mine already have some buds at this point)

Number 3: Find a nice bright spot in your house and enjoy.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2007 at 4:58PM
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Ines, the problem is, Tracy wants to force her CC into bloom's easy to force in autumn...Toni

    Bookmark   June 28, 2007 at 5:03PM
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There is no way it would set buds right now, we have daylight from about 6am until at least 11pm, that is why I am going to use the bags, possibly a box.


    Bookmark   June 28, 2007 at 5:28PM
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mkiker(Marshall zone 8 NC)

what I was always told, and my family love the CC to the point of absurdity is this

step 1- water it thoroughly.
step 2- put it in a closet for 5-6 weeks
step 3- check it after 4 weeks while not letting light get to it for flower buds which should form after week 5
step 4- remove from closet, it's buds will open into flowers

The CC normally goes by a combination of light and temp but I'm told that extreme darkness can make it panic into bloom and that's the only way to assure flowers on Xmas day.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2007 at 5:30PM
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oh....duh....sorry! I must have "speed read" over the word "force" - I took it to mean she was excited about christmas coming and wanted to make sure her plant was ready!

    Bookmark   June 29, 2007 at 3:27PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Ummmm....those directions make it sound like you should put the plant in a closet for 6 weeks without ever taking it out! I KNOW that you didn't mean that!

Temperature plays a part in flower induction, but you ought to be able to overcome that by providing around 14 hours of uninterrupted darkness per day, until you begin to see the buds form.

The coolest location you can find would be helpful.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2007 at 3:34PM
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mkiker(Marshall zone 8 NC)

I told that it would survive six weeks in a closet with NO LIGHT AT ALL and bloom. I asked my family to clarify though and they aren't sure as it's never really been tried.

I think it should be in the closet for 16 hrs and light for 8 but apparently I don't know as much as I thought I did when I came here.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2007 at 3:39PM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

I believe this is the wrong time of year for this to happen. I suspect no matter what forcing behaviors you give it, it's too late in the season for it to bloom. As winter bloomers native to South America, their seasons are opposite from ours. Mine normally blooms for New Years. This year it also bloomed 10 wks later in late February. Sometimes it blooms for Easter as well or late in May, but I very much doubt you can make it bloom in high summer.

Of course, it may not hurt for you to try.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2007 at 3:47PM
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I will let everyone know how it turns out. I started 3 days ago, I will post pics if I am successful.


    Bookmark   July 1, 2007 at 2:06PM
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Karen, your holiday cactus blooms a lot later than you place it outdoors or cover at a certain time? If you cover, what month do you start? That's interesting..

Tracy, good luck..I hope your experiment works..though it'll be difficult.It'll be an interesting experiment..let us know how it works for you..Toni

    Bookmark   July 1, 2007 at 2:14PM
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Tracy, good luck from me too. Please keep us posted of your CC development.


    Bookmark   July 1, 2007 at 4:42PM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

Hi Toni,

I grow indoors in apmt only, can't summer my plants outside, nowhere handy &/or safe. The fire escapes are a thought, but they're in full western light (the plants would burn) & it's illegal to put stuff out on the fire escape.

I don't do anything to mine at all, not cover it or anything. It hangs in the edge of a west window & I just try not to put lights on near it at night, after the time change in Oct. Last yr. I withheld water for abt a month in Sept or Oct., as soon as I saw it slow in producing new growth.

I've been giving it leftover black coffee for at least 6 months & I think that was responsible for the Feb. blooms. Now that I'm alternating dilute black coffee & Eleanors VF-11 for it, who knows what it'll do next!!

    Bookmark   July 2, 2007 at 4:01PM
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That's a thought..illegal placing plants on fire escape..That'd be a disaster for sure.
Even if it was legal and safe, that western sun might burn plants..
Is Eleanors a fertilizer? I've heard positive feedback from everyone who uses it..they vow plants look better, bloom more. One day I'll order, but now isn't the time.
So, CC are acidic? What about Easter Cactus? Does anyone know if tea is acidic? I drink herbal tea before bed and regular tea during the day..Would that work?

Well, Tracy, let us know how it goes? Toni

    Bookmark   July 2, 2007 at 6:22PM
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