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Potting Soil for Christmas Cactus

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Christmas Cactus blooms in winter, producing flowers on the tips of its succulent leaves. Although hardy in USDA hardiness zones 10 through 12, it is grown most often as an indoor holiday plant.

A Christmas Cactus requires repotting every 3 years. Repot it in spring, after it finishes flowering for the season but when its foliage and roots still grow actively. Planting your Christmas Cactus in the correct type of potting soil will help the plant remain healthy and will ensure a good bloom in the next season.

In its native Brazil, the Christmas Cactus has very specific growing conditions. It’s an epiphyte, meaning it grows on the trunks of larger trees and gains most of its moisture from the air. It sinks its roots into decomposing leaves and debris resting on the sides of trees. It also draws some moisture from this makeshift soil, but because of its small volume and position high in the air, this soil dries out easily even with daily rainfall. This means that the best soil for Christmas Cactus is extremely well draining. Heavy garden soil or potting soil designed to retain a lot of moisture will suffocate the roots, making the Christmas Cactus grow and flower poorly. It also may result in root rot.

Photo via wikipedia.org

Homemade Potting Soil

Mixing your own potting soil allows you to ensure the cactus is in the best growing medium. Begin with sterile compost or garden loam, and mix it with equal portions of perlite and milled peat. The perlite and peat aerate the soil mixture and provide drainage while the compost or loam retains nutrients and enough moisture to support the plant’s roots. Using sterilized ingredients prevents the introduction of diseases and pest organisms into the mixture.

Bagged Options

A standard commercial potting mixture works well with only slight amendments. Choose a pH-balanced mixture with no added fertilizers. A pH-balanced potting soil has a fairly neutral pH level, between 6.0 and 7.0. It is neither too acidic nor too alkaline for the cactus. A mixture containing 60 to 80 % soil and 20 to 40 % perlite needs no further amending. If the mixture doesn’t contain perlite, then mix 3 parts potting soil with 2 parts perlite before using it. Alternatively, use a potting soil specifically designed for cactus plants because that kind of potting mix already contains extra drainage materials.

Source: sfgate.com

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