Force Blooming your Pointsettia and Christmas Cactus

poinsettia Christmas is fast approaching and there are some decorating projects that cannot be left to the last minute. One of these projects is decorating your home with beautiful Christmas Poinsettia and Christmas Cactus plants you forced bloomed yourself. Christmas Poinsettias and Christmas Cactus can be quite a challenge to bloom but well worth the trouble to show their gorgeous display of Christmas red exotic flowers. They certainly are a starring addition to your Christmas decor arrangement. And what a great conversation topic when your guests will exclaim in wonder; “How did you do it?”.

Learning where this shrub comes from, can help us understand how we can keep these beautiful plants growing and blooming. The Poinsettia plant’s natural growing environment is in Central America and Southern Mexico. Poinsettia shrubs were introduced in the United States in 1828 by an American named Joel Roberts Poinsett who was at the time the Ambassador to Mexico. He developed a great love for the beautiful red blooms of the Poinsettia shrub and sent some back to his home in South Carolina to be propagated.

As most of us experience with exotic flowering plants from very warm countries, to keep them alive and flowering means they need specific care when introduced to a cooler temperature zone. Lets first define the botanical structure of a poinsettia. Did you know you can get various shades of color ranging from green to Christmas red. pink, white and other variations. Many people do not realize that what they see as the flower is actually the plants specialized leaves called bracts. Bracts turn colors through a process called photoperiodism. Depending on how much periods of light it gets determines its color. The poinsettia’s small yellow flowers are in the center of the bracts.

During the summer the poinsettias can be left outside as a shrub but when fall comes they need to be brought inside. To have these exotic plants bloom they need to be placed in a dark room or covered from light for twelve to sixteen hours and then during the day brought out into as much bright light as possible in order to absorb enough energy for color production. The darkness actually triggers the flower formation. To force bloom the poinsettia you need to start about forty days before Christmas.


Making a Christmas Cactus bloom requires more time so for this Christmas you may need to go to a florist or specialty shop that has them available. However; there is no reason to not experiment now along with your Christmas Poinsettia. They have some steps in common and you can begin to prepare your Poinsettia to bloom again in the spring with the cactus.

The Christmas Cactus’s blooming success depends on cutting back watering and following the light and temperature recommendations. Around October to the first part of November cut back on watering to the point that the soil is slightly moist. Water when the top soil is about one inch dry. This will cause the plant to go into a state of dormancy. This is very important to instigate the blooms to grow. To force bloom move the plant to a dark area such as a closet or cover for 12 to 14 hours at night. The cactus also should be in an environment that is 50-55 degrees F. or (12 C). The cactus should be in darkness about twelve weeks or until the cactus has buds on it. At this point the plant will need light so move it to a draft free sunny spot. The Christmas Cactus should still receive dark, cool periods of darkness and light while the buds grow. This will likely take up to 12 weeks for the blooms to appear. At this point the plant should be relocated to a sunny and draft free spot.

Good Luck ! Do share your notes with us if you discoverer new or interesting information as you work through this indoor garden project.

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