Christmas cactus, or Schlumbergera, is a popular indoor plant that blooms beautiful flowers during the holiday season. While many enjoy keeping their Christmas cactus indoors, some gardeners wonder if this plant can thrive outdoors.
This article will explore whether a Christmas cactus can be kept outside, the environmental conditions it requires to survive, and the benefits and drawbacks of keeping it outdoors.
We’ll also cover some of the tips and recommendations for maintaining healthy and thriving Christmas cactus plants outdoors. So, whether you’re a seasoned gardener or a Christmas cactus enthusiast, read on to find out if this beautiful plant can be enjoyed in your outdoor garden.
Understanding the Growing Conditions of Christmas Cactus
Christmas cactus is native to the humid tropical forests of Brazil, where they grow in the shade of trees. As such, they require specific growing conditions to thrive.
Christmas cacti prefer to be kept in a slightly humid environment, with temperatures between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
They also require well-draining soil that is slightly acidic with a pH between 5.5 and 6.0. When grown indoors, Christmas cacti typically bloom in the late fall or early winter.
Can Christmas Cactus Survive Outdoors?
Yes, Christmas cacti can survive outdoors if given the proper care and environmental conditions. However, they are sensitive to temperature fluctuations and do not tolerate frost well.
Thus, they should only be grown outdoors in mild winter climates. If you live in a colder climate, you can still grow Christmas cacti outside during the warmer months and bring them indoors during the winter.
Pros and Cons of Keeping Christmas Cactus Outdoors
- Increased natural light: Christmas cacti require bright, indirect light to bloom, and when grown outdoors, they are exposed to more natural light, which can lead to healthier growth and better blooms.
- Natural pollination: Outdoor plants are more likely to be pollinated naturally by bees and other insects, which can result in even more abundant blooms.
- Larger size: Christmas cacti grown outdoors can grow larger than indoor plants and have a more natural, bushy appearance.
- Air circulation: Outdoor plants have more access to fresh air and can benefit from better air circulation, which can help prevent pests and diseases.
- Vulnerability to pests and diseases: Outdoor plants are more vulnerable to pests and diseases and can be more difficult to control outdoors.
- Risk of cold damage: Christmas cacti are not particularly cold-hardy and can be damaged or killed by frost and freezing temperatures.
- Risk of sun damage: Direct sunlight can damage the plant, so protecting it from intense sunlight and providing filtered light is important.
- Limited growing season: Christmas cacti can only be grown outdoors in areas with mild winter climates and must be brought indoors or protected during cold spells or frost.
Temperature Tolerance of Christmas Cactus
The ideal temperature range for Christmas cactus is between 60-70°F (15-21°C). They can tolerate slightly cooler temperatures down to around 50°F (10°C) for short periods, but prolonged exposure to temperatures below 50°F can damage the plant.
On the other hand, high temperatures above 90°F (32°C) can also be detrimental to the plant, especially if combined with low humidity.
Christmas cacti are generally best grown indoors in areas with cooler climates, as they are not well-suited to hot and dry environments.
If you live in a warmer climate and want to grow your Christmas cactus outdoors, choosing a location with filtered light and protecting the plant from direct sunlight and extreme temperatures is important.
During the winters, when the plant is dormant, it can tolerate cooler temperatures and may benefit from a period of cooler temperatures to encourage blooming.
However, it’s important to avoid exposing the plant to freezing temperatures during this time.
Light Requirements for Christmas Cactus Outdoors
With its vibrant blooms, the Christmas cactus is a delightful addition to any outdoor garden. But the right amount of light is crucial to coax this exotic beauty into its full glory.
Regarding light requirements for Christmas cacti outdoors, it’s all about balance. Too much sun and the leaves can scorch, while too little light can lead to stunted growth and lackluster blooms.
The ideal spot for a Christmas cactus is a bright but shaded location that receives indirect sunlight. Filtered light that’s gentle on the plant’s leaves is the key to success.
The cactus prefers dappled shade under the canopy of trees or behind a sheer curtain to protect it from the sun’s harsh rays.
If your Christmas cactus needs more light, it can produce a few blooms and may develop spindly stems. You can supplement the plant’s light intake with artificial grow lights to promote healthy growth and blooms.
The Christmas cactus thrives in a balance of light and shade. With the right amount of filtered light and proper care, your outdoor Christmas cactus will dazzle with its vivid, colorful blooms.
Watering Needs of Christmas Cactus Outside
Watering is a critical aspect of Christmas cactus care, and it’s important to get it right, whether the plant is indoors or outdoors.
There are a few things to remember when watering needs for Christmas cacti outside. When the plant actively grows during the warmer months, it should be watered regularly to keep the soil moist but not soggy.
Outdoor plants may require frequent watering, especially during hot and dry weather, as the soil can dry quickly.
However, avoiding overwatering is important, which can lead to root rot and other problems. It’s better to let the soil dry out slightly between waterings and to ensure that the pot has proper drainage to prevent water from accumulating at the bottom.
When the plant is dormant in the winter, watering should be reduced to allow the soil to dry out more between waterings. This will help prevent root rot and other problems when the plant is not growing.
It’s also important to use the right type of water when watering Christmas cacti. Tap water can contain minerals and chemicals that can harm the plant, so it’s best to use filtered or distilled water instead.
Fertilization of Christmas Cactus in Outdoor Settings
Christmas cacti require regular fertilization to bloom and grow properly. When grown outdoors, they should be fertilized every 2-3 weeks during the growing season with a balanced fertilizer.
It’s important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and to avoid overfertilizing, as this can damage the plant.
Pests and Diseases of Christmas Cactus Outdoors When grown outdoors, Christmas cacti can be vulnerable to various pests and diseases, including spider mites, mealybugs, and root rot.
To prevent and control these problems, inspecting the plant regularly and treating any issues promptly is important.
Tips for Maintaining Healthy Christmas Cactus Outdoors
To maintain healthy Christmas cacti outdoors, it’s important to provide them with the proper environmental conditions, including well-draining soil, bright but filtered light, and regular fertilization.
Don’t forget pruning! Regular pruning helps maintain the plant’s shape and promotes new growth. Use clean and sharp pruning shears to remove damaged or dead branches and cut back overgrown stems. Prune the plant after the blooming season is over.
Additionally, protecting them from extreme temperatures, pests, and diseases would be best. If you notice any problems with your plant, address them promptly to prevent further damage.
How to Bring Christmas Cactus Indoors
If you have grown your Christmas cactus outdoors during the warmer months and want to bring it indoors for the winter, you should keep a few things in mind.
First, you should gradually acclimate the plant to indoor conditions, as sudden changes in temperature and humidity can shock the plant.
Start by placing the plant in a shaded area indoors and gradually moving it to a brighter light location. It would also help to reduce watering and fertilization during the winter months, as the plant will go dormant and require less care.
Is it Safe to Keep Christmas Cactus Outdoors?
Christmas cacti can be grown outdoors if given the proper care and environmental conditions. While there are some advantages to growing them outdoors, such as increased natural light and pollination, there are also risks associated with outdoor growing, including exposure to pests and diseases.
Our Final Thoughts
Ultimately, the decision to grow your Christmas cactus outdoors will depend on your climate, growing conditions, and personal preferences. Following the tips and recommendations in this article, you can help ensure that your Christmas cactus thrives indoors and outdoors.
Hi! I’m Sophia, and I love plants – especially an expert in growing house plants. I stay in Chicago, United States of America, and through my blog and social media platforms, provide tips and tricks on how to grow healthy, vibrant plants indoors. Check out more here.