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Help! I have had this Christmas catcus for about 15 years. I have repotted it and within the last year it has developed like a scaly film over it.  If you have any suggestions it would be greatly appreciated. Thank you so much- Nicole


You have repotted it into too large a pot and kept it too wet. In nature Christmas cacti are actually epiphytic cacti and they grow in the branch crotches of trees high in the jungle where they get lots of light and the only soil is the rotten leaves caught in the branch crotches. They do not like to be moved to large pots, they like to be root bound.

To try to save it keep it very dry. Water it only when it has been dry for 2 weeks and do not let it sit in a drain tray full of water. It's roots have rotted and it needs to regrow roots. If you want a large pot and you are shopping and see Christmas cacti on sale get a new one and take these and push them over to one side of the pot to make room to add a new one in with them. That will make them all rootbound sooner.

Set in a bright window or bright area outside when temperatures are above 50 degrees. Water no more than a cup of water at a time when you water until you see signs of new growth.

When you see the above signs - you can water normally which means when the soil is dry 1" down -- water until water runs out bottom of container -- then pour off any excess water.

Once the plants have grown one new segment you can start fertilizing until October 1st. Now it's time for blooms! They can stay outside until temperatures are going to drop below 40 degrees. Cool temperatures trigger blooming in Christmas Cactus or keeping them in total darkness for 14 hours a night will also trigger blooming. That can be accomplished using a black trash bag.

Prepare for blooming - Leave outside to get natural cooling temps at night and natural hours of daylight. If your plant is inside - keep it cool and give it light equivalent to outside daylight.

If you are lucky, you will get blooms next year around Thanksgiving or Christmas. After blooming, the plant should rest until March. Watering should be decreased - water when 2" - 3" of depth is dry before re-watering as stated above. Don't let your plant dry out completely. Do not fertilize during this dormant period.

If you have more questions feel free to write again. Good luck!


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Darlene K. Kittle


I have been an Advanced Master Gardener for 24 years and I raise around 300 houseplants and bonsai trees a year including tropicals, succulents, and cacti. I have also been a professional plant care person for businesses in the Fort Wayne, IN area and currently professionally care for bonsai trees for my customers.


I am also studying the Japanese art of bonsai with tropical plants and is President of the Fort Wayne, IN Bonsai Club.

Fort Wayne, iN Master Gardeners. President of the Fort Wayne Bonsai Club. Allen County Master Gardeners

I am not a hortculturist. I am a Purdue University Advanced Master Gardener for 24 years. I have studied plants on a personal level by growing hundreds of plants annually for the last 35 years. I have also studied under several nationally known American Bonsai experts.

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