Christmas Cactus re-potted

greenman28 NorCal 7b/8aOctober 8, 2012

Much to my chagrin, quite late in the season.

But it had to be done, as the last re-potting was years ago and without the benefit of my current mix.

So I put together a batch of Fir bark, Perlite, and a very small fraction of Fox Farms Ocean Forest soil

to bind the other ingredients and retain moisture. I added a half-dose of Osmocote 4-month slow-release.

Then the real chore of untangling roots and blasting the old soil out of the substantial rootball.

I know that Pirate Girl (Karen) has been asking for a shot of these roots ever since I began posting

pics of this 33 year-old Christmas Cactus. Anyhow, here they are :-)

A month ago, before taking cuttings for my Aunt:

And today, a shot of the Root-beard, about two-thirds bare-rooted:

Re-potted and watered in thoroughly. And I only broke one piece! :-D


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Hey...good job....looks great..and now watch for all the new growth.....when I repotted mine it really got alot bigger...and then this summer the wind hit...but its coming will be big again...
and it loves to be pruned and I have done some of that and sent out the cuttings.....and you will be rewarded with tons of flowers.......linda

    Bookmark   October 8, 2012 at 9:18PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Thanks, Linda!

If she flowers, she flowers...although I won't be disappointed if there are fewer buds
than usual, given the root-disturbance this late in the year ;-)

These plants do love to be pruned, which I do to alleviate some of the weight of the limbs -
and also encourage upright growth and structural branching.


    Bookmark   October 8, 2012 at 9:28PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Great job! I'm sure I would have broken much more than that. Wishing you lots of blooms!!

    Bookmark   October 9, 2012 at 9:06AM
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Josh! Great job.

I love this plant as you well know and I love how you did your repot. Did you cut the root back at all, or think about it?

I just love what the mix looks like! What made you decide to use the Fox Farms instead of peat or turface or pumice?

Thank you so much for showing us and that plant will do wonderful for sure!

Talk to you soon:-)

Hello Linda:-)

    Bookmark   October 9, 2012 at 9:30AM
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Amazing roots. Did you prune them as well?


    Bookmark   October 9, 2012 at 9:32AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Good morning!
Thank you all for the nice comments!
I did prune the roots, but just the longest ones.

Mike, great question! I'm out of Turface, and I've never had any peat moss -
and I didn't want to waste what little Lava rock I have left on such a large
volume of mix (in other words, a mix where it can't be seen and enjoyed!).
I will re-pot within 2 years, so I think the bagged potting soil will be fine -
also, I used much less than would be used in a traditional 5-1-1 mix, and I screened
the fine dust from the bark and perlite, which ought to balance the moisture out.

I was most impressed with the roots. We're so used to hearing/parroting the comment
that these plants have fine or paltry root-systems, that I was excited to share what I knew
was waiting in that old soil. Big healthy plant, big healthy root-system.


    Bookmark   October 9, 2012 at 10:02AM
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A 33-yr-old, actual Christmas Cactus!

I agree, it's roots are large and healthy. A ton of pretty foliage, too.

What size was its current pot and now new container? What about flower color?

Josh, don't know your area temps, but if you keep it outside for a time, perhaps disturbing roots won't matter, hopefully bloom anyway.

You're lucky...a true CC..Toni

    Bookmark   October 9, 2012 at 10:56AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Hey, Toni!

This is the same CC that I've posted many times before :-)
Classic colored blooms.

The container is a large terracotta pot, and I put it right back in the same container.
Give me a moment, I'll measure....okay, the pot is 11 inches tall and 12 inches wide at the top.

I brought the plant in last night since the mix was wet and the temps dropped to 42F.
I will take it back out and let the cooling temps and the longer night stimulate budding.

The plant perked up considerably over night.


    Bookmark   October 9, 2012 at 11:29AM
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Beautiful Christmas Cactus, Josh.

May I ask what size orchid bark do you use? I've been using a mix with fine grade orchid bark as the primary ingredient to root TC/CC cuttings and grow the young plants. Come Spring I'm going to be potting up and I'm considering medium grade orchid bark as opposed to fine. Do you think that's a good plan or would you recommend that I stick with the fine grade bark?


    Bookmark   October 9, 2012 at 1:53PM
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Josh, yep, I remember you posted pics of your Christmas Cactus before, but wasn't that, last Christmas? :)

It's grown quite a bit since.

Sorry, don't know what classic colored blooms are.

12" pot..think it's time to repot my guys. They've been in the same 4" pots, well a long time..The reason isn't laziness..I'm afraid to repot..after reading tight-fitting roots promote flowers, I'm now Schlum-phobic. :(

Tim, I know you addresed your post to Josh, but where do you find larger-sized Orchid bark? Up until 6-months ago, Orchid bark was sold everywhere. Now, all stores sell an ORchid mix w/tiny pieces.

Wonder if bark for outdoors can be used in place of Orchid bark....Toni

    Bookmark   October 9, 2012 at 2:14PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Thanks, Tim!

I use fine-grade Orchid bark, and I screen out the finest bark dust so that the final mix
doesn't retain too much moisture. I would stick with fine-grade, as the pieces are still fairly
large to my eye - averaging around 3/8 to 5/8 of an inch. If the container were very large,
then I might consider a more chunky bark...and I'd just water more frequently to keep the roots
in the upper layer happy. In a small container, I like the smaller bark for moisture retention.


    Bookmark   October 9, 2012 at 2:21PM
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Thanks, Josh - I appreciate your insight.

The fine grade bark I have is in the 1/4-1/2 inch range. I've finally been able to secure a bag of appropriately sized pumice (a bit of a challenge here in NJ) - my plants are going to be happy come Spring repotting ;)

Toni - I'm fortunate enough to work within a mile of Stony Brook Orchids ( The owner (Susan Gange) was kind enough to show me through the greenhouse and sell me the fir bark I needed.


    Bookmark   October 9, 2012 at 11:22PM
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Loveplants2 8b Virginia Beach, Virginia

Hello Everyone!!!


What a beauty!!!

I can't wait to see this awesome Christmas Cactus in looks so healthy right now and i will say how impressive the root ball is in the pic.

SOmetimes we have to repot when neccessary and it is the right thing to do. Your CC looks like it is one happy plant!!

Nice Job!!!

As always... : )

Nice to see you and others here!!

Hope all is well out in lovely CA!!

Take Care,


    Bookmark   October 10, 2012 at 12:20AM
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Josh, not sure what fine grade bark is...:) Is fine grade size or type of bark?

My only choice finding bark is either ordering online, 'which will be costly,' or buy bark for outdoor gardening.

Any suggestions?

Tim, yes, you are lucky living near a nursery that sells bark. I'll check out their prices. Thanks.

Laura!!! Haven't seen you for, months?? How are you? Hope all is well.
Are your Plumes ready for dormancy yet, or still green, flowering and beautiful? Toni

    Bookmark   October 10, 2012 at 11:45AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

that's the perfect size bark for these jungle cacti.

thanks for so much for stopping in! Good to see you. The weather in California
has finally cooled a bit and smells like autumn. 75F today with blue skies
and a light breeze.

bark sold for orchids comes in different sizes - fine, medium, and large (that I've seen).
The fine-grade can be screened to remove the largest pieces and the fine dust. The
remaining bark is excellent for jungle cacti, orchids, hoyas, et cetera.

E.B. Stone, a well-known company, offers many soils and soil amendments. They offer
"Orchid Bark" (which is Fir bark) in various quantities - but it is expensive in small lots.
One of their other products is an outdoor mulch called Greenall Micro Bark. This is the
same Fir bark that they sell in smaller bags as "Orchid Bark." The difference is that the
Micro Bark costs much less and comes in a larger bag.

Here's a pic of the blooms from January 30th of this year, fairly late into the bloom-window.
I've read that three cultivars exist and that their blooms are slightly different, but this is
the only color of bloom that I've seen.


1 Like    Bookmark   October 10, 2012 at 5:03PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Bump for Karen (Pirate Girl) and Lamora :-)


    Bookmark   October 15, 2012 at 11:06AM
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greenlarry(UK 8/9)

I didnt repot mine this year, or the last, cant afford the compost! Next year, once flowering has finished its getting restarted!

    Bookmark   October 15, 2012 at 2:44PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Hey, Larry, you won't be sorry!
Mine is bursting with new growth, which had slowed considerably in the old soil.
If you can find "Orchid Bark" or a bark mulch that is primarily Pine or Fir bark in
small pieces (1/8 to 3/8 inch), your jungle cacti will thank you. A mix of mostly bark
is lightweight and free-draining, and allows you to water copiously and frequently the way
these plants are "watered" (rained upon) in their natural environment.


    Bookmark   October 15, 2012 at 5:38PM
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greenlarry(UK 8/9)

Well when I say restarting I mean starting the plant again from a cutting abd discarding the parent plant. I already have a cutting that has rooted in the pot with it- thats gonna be the next generation. I did the same with my big peperomia that was past its best.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2012 at 5:45PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Oh, man, just prune the Mother Plant back, and re-pot it! You'll have a stout and woody bonsai.

Is there some reason you're going to toss the Mother?


    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 1:51PM
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Josh, your Christmas Cactus is absolutely gorgeous!
The flowers are huge.

Josh, I went to several stores looking for bark, but nobody has it.
Guess I'll have to order on Ebay or Amazon.

It's amazing how manufacturers stop shipping items in certain locations. Bark isn't the only product they stopped selling here.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 2:26PM
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greenlarry(UK 8/9)

Just got too big and i lack space. Its not an attractive plant when not in flower anyway. Itll make good compost tho!

    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 2:38PM
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greenlarry(UK 8/9)

Greenman, how the heck do you prune a forest cactus? There's no stems to cut to!

    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 7:40PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Thanks, Toni!
I'm sorry you can't find bark. It's shocking that the Orchid bark isn't available anymore.
Even hardware stores/Building Supply chains carry bagged bark for Orchids out here.

Larry, I cut back to the node, and then the stem usually branches at that point.
Often, I have five or six branchlets emerging from a stem, so I'll thin out two or three
to alleviate the weight at the end of the branch. This helps the plant have a more upright

Here are some pics of a woody cutting that I rooted to grow as a bonsai specimen -
I prune this plant quite often. When I prune, I leave a stub of the node that I cut,
which will dry up quickly and fall.

Before pruning:

After pruning:

After pruning, closer view:

With judicious trimming, the plant will be strong enough to support its branches.
Once the woody main branches have "set" in position, I will allow the tip-growth to
extend and become pendulous (as most mature plants are).


    Bookmark   October 17, 2012 at 11:32AM
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greenlarry(UK 8/9)

Josh thats interesting, I might just give it a try. My missus will say I've been butchering the plants again, lol

    Bookmark   October 17, 2012 at 1:57PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

The first cut's always the deepest... ;-)
Go for it! You won't be disappointed in the lush growth that results.


    Bookmark   October 17, 2012 at 3:07PM
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greenlarry(UK 8/9)

Kind of excited to try this now! Of course its putting out flower buds at the moment, not gonna interfere with that!

    Bookmark   October 17, 2012 at 5:52PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Yeah, don't cut off the buds ;-)
After the bloom, cut back on watering for about a month (while the plant goes through
a recuperation period of lower activity). Then, toward Spring as growth resumes, give
the plant a proper trim, hit it with a dose of half-strength fertilizer, and watch the results.


    Bookmark   October 17, 2012 at 6:26PM
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greenlarry(UK 8/9)

The only trouble with my plant, compared to yours, is its all lopsided. Cant see it in pics but if you could look from above youd see no 'branches' at the back.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2012 at 6:30PM
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Loveplants2 8b Virginia Beach, Virginia

Hey Josh,

Thanks for the examples of the pruning into a Bonsai.

Looking good!! ;-)

I also cant believe Toni cant find bark.. that is so frustrating.

Toni.. Thanks for asking about me. I have been around. Had a little grandson which has kept me busy.. Yes, the other treees are being put to bed!! : )

Take care all!!

Josh.. i forgot to mention. Your DR is probably looking great.. Everything you grow does well..

Thanks for the nice comments tho..


    Bookmark   October 17, 2012 at 7:14PM
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Hey Josh! What a fine looking CC at this point, and the trimmed one has given me an idea with mine.
Thanks for addressing my comments and questions.

You know how scared I am to make any cuts on my plants, that is until I see what you do and get the confidence. I really appreciate the time you spend here pal.

By the way, I would love it if you got a hnadful of the bark you use and maybe post a close up of it next to lets say a dime, so some can get a better grasp of the size you use and what the bark looks like.
You are wonderful at show and tell and showing the bark you use would surely tell:-)

Beautiful and have a great night all my good friends here.

Thanks again for everything:-)


    Bookmark   October 17, 2012 at 7:26PM
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so beautiful Josh =) you know that I have always respected yours and Mike's knowledge and wisdom. you truly have one beautiful lush plant, I love seeing it year after year =)

    Bookmark   October 22, 2012 at 10:19PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Thank you, Laura, Mike, and Silent! ;-)
Sorry I'm late in has been busy and I haven't logged in here for a few days.
Mike, your request is duly noted...and I'll try to get a pic of the bark I use sometime today...

If you consider how these plants grow in nature, you'll realize that they are constantly losing
branches to wind, water, and animal activity - and so they tolerate "pruning" very, very well.
Broken segments are probably the plant's primary means of "reproducing" (cloning) itself.


    Bookmark   October 23, 2012 at 10:11AM
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Left to right: Easter Cactus, jade, christmas cactus cuttings, and some other succulent not sure got it from lady at my jobs's desk.

I took christmas cuttings from my moms plant which is in the starter pot but today is the first time a flower bloomed on easter cactus since I got it on my birthday May 12, 2013 this mothers day, here the flower closed since sun is going down and didnt know they do this NEAT. I was so happy to get one of these, my sister surprised me and got it for me. I have all of these in my cactus room along side desert rose, aloe, Wheeping blue ginger, and a succulent/cacti arrangement I Did. All of them are potted using orchid bark, perlite, very small amounts of soil (logees soil), and only just recently I did the same treatment but started using bonsai soil on the newly potted plants, more orchid bark on top, and top dressed with pebbles. Mix is very fast draining majority only get watered 1x a month but some get 2x a month watering. I keep all my plants on dry side. Its warm here but since this room only gets Morning sun & afternoon sun goes to the back so its reflected light and the plants get used to it.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2013 at 8:17PM
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Earlier today this is what the Bloom looks like and in the above pic its closed sun is going down. Nature is amazing an there's more buds but they'll prob. open later this week. Just happy this plant adjusted to my house easily because the desert rose took a beating. All leaves came off and I just said ok fine, and did a hard pruning. Cut the stems back. So now new growth is appearing. But this cactus is fun and its small/cute :)) hope my cuttings of christmas cactus grow. Some have roots, well more areial ones, but there are tiny pink buds on them, time will tell

    Bookmark   May 20, 2013 at 8:21PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

That is fantastic!
These jungle cacti ought to root very easily at this time of year. When using a bark based mix, feel free to water and lightly fertilize on a regular basis.


    Bookmark   May 21, 2013 at 1:18AM
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Hello All,

Just wanted to take a moment to thank the author for having this site. I do like to see how others are doing with their Christmas cactus. I too have one that I started from just 2 leaves, dried out and dying on my friends window. I took it home, cared for it and saved it from an early demise. Here she is 7 years later. :)

Kind regards,

Here is a link that might be useful:

This post was edited by saxamo on Tue, Nov 12, 13 at 9:57

    Bookmark   November 12, 2013 at 9:54AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Good morning, Saxamo.
What you have there is a Thanksgiving Cactus, and a nice one. Thanksgiving Cactus can be identified by the angle of the flower and the "points" on the margins of the leaf segments (phylloclades).


    Bookmark   November 12, 2013 at 12:01PM
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puglvr1(9b central FL)

Josh, I missed this post last year but glad it got bumped back up...your Christmas Cactus is truly amazing!! Sooo beautiful and healthy!!

Saxamo, your Thanksgiving Cactus is very pretty! Look at all those blooms!

    Bookmark   November 12, 2013 at 12:26PM
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i'm glad this post popped up, if a little late, but it reassured me. smth came over me and i repotted my old xgiving cactus in the beginning of oct, knowing full well it will delay the flowering if not abort it all together. AND i pruned it too considerably - and popped the cuttings in a plastic and forgot about them.
i also trimmed the roots by half - and was queazy about that too :0!
but now that i know yours flowered in jan ? i am hoping for similar results. mine is setting some flowers on untrimmed brunches now.
but what is hilarious is the cuttings!
i discovered that they started air-roots in the bottle. i had no time, was going away, so i wrapped the roots in moistened coir fiber, bagged them and left for 2 weeks.
i come back - and i see that they are budding! there's barely any roots at all....and they're budding! more then mama...
have you had smth like this happen?
am not sure if i should let them flower or pop the buds off?

    Bookmark   November 16, 2013 at 8:05PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Hey, Pug and Petrushka! Thanks!
Yes, be re-assured, a little out of season work isn't gonig to ruin the plant or the bloom necessarily. Truly, the improvement in mix will do them much good.

As for the flowering cuttings...I would just pot them and let them go. Sure, it takes a lot of energy, but why not enjoy them?


    Bookmark   November 17, 2013 at 3:01PM
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