CORVALLIS, Ore. - Even though it's summer, it's not too early to start thinking about Christmas cacti.

Now is the time to reduce your watering. You should add water only if the soil is almost dry when you stick your finger in it, says Ross Penhallegon, a horticulturist with the Oregon State University Extension Service. The reduced water will slightly stress the plant to get better blooms in late fall and winter, he says.

Fertilizing during August and early September is not necessary, he adds.

Placing the cactus outdoors in a semi-shady area in the summer is also a good idea to help with bud development, according to Penhallegon. Avoid direct sun; it can damage the leaves.

From mid-September onward, you can resume normal care of your cactus - fertilizing once a month and watering about once a week to keep the soil constantly moist.

As the season progresses, the longer nights will stimulate the development of blossoms in late autumn. Buds will not form unless the plants have a long period of uninterrupted darkness.

If all goes well, your summer work will pay off with beautiful flowers in the winter.


Ross Penhallegon, 541-344-1709

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