Want to cut a Christmas cactus?
Could be there's no need for scissors, every need for cold
Years ago I got a start of a Christmas cactus. It's
become a really big plant. I keep it outside all summer. Just now,
I see quite a few of the stalks are brown and wonder if I should
cut some out of it? It won't stop it from blooming, will it?
Because it blooms so beautifully. The buds are forming now and
right about Christmas it's always just loaded with
I'm bringing it inside now because I'm always so scared
to leave it out too long. - Barb -
All the flower buds that have appeared by mid-October each
year on Barb's Christmas cactus will benefit from continued good
light. Branches that haven't yet formed buds will be nudged further
in that direction by a combination of full sun and lengthening
You can cut out any portions of a Christmas cactus (various
Schlumbergera hybrids go by the common names Christmas-,
Thanksgiving- and Easter cactus) if they become too old and woody
to be attractive, or have been damaged. What you clip now won't be
there to contribute to the bloom but your pruning won't affect all
the tips you leave in place, which are in bud or priming themselves
to develop flower buds.
Rarely need to up-pot this plant that likes a
Don't think you should clip out stems to keep the pot from
becoming crowded, however. Schlumbergera isn't a soil
dweller, in nature. It makes its home high in the crotches of trees
in South American jungles, where it grows to huge size in tiny
pockets of organic debris.
They live there on water when it comes -- that's frequently
during the rainy season when the plants take advantage to grow with
gusto and bloom -- and they rest there doing without during the dry
season. They are also very efficient users of nutrients, getting by
on the decay of fallen leaves plus chance deposits made by birds
and other canopy dwelling animals.
As long as you can keep your from overbalancing its pot, and if
you can water it frequently enough during its active growth phase
to keep that small root mass from going completely dry, there's no
need to make room in the pot or to up-pot.
Encourage more people to leave these plants out in the
We hope your example will help a few more people steel
themselves to leave a Christmas cactus outdoors just a bit longer
in fall. So long as they bring it in overnight to a dark room if
there's danger of frost, they can put it right back out again the
next day and it will be fine. What makes that effort worthwhile is
that the combination of lengthening nights, falling temperatures
and unbeatable solar power of full daylight is what triggers and
fuels a Christmas cactus to bloom as fully as yours.
Cut out some woody trunks if you will but this
Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera) isn't suffering from
being crowded. Its species even likes it that way.