The Christmas cactus is one of the few plants to offer gorgeous blooms over the holiday season, but what does it mean if it starts flowering in May?
Why Is My Christmas Cactus Blooming In May?
Your Christmas cactus is blooming in may because it’s either confused, having a second bloom, or perhaps you have an Easter cactus and not a Christmas one.
Easter cacti and Christmas cacti can be very similar in appearance and sometimes – for the untrained eye – the only way to tell them apart is by the time of year they bloom.
After all, as the name suggests, Christmas cacti should bloom around the holidays, and not at the end of spring!
Christmas cacti usually flower anywhere between November and January, so while they may not make Christmas beautiful, they are at least a bit of color in winter in normal circumstances.
If your plant is flowering in the late spring, however, there are a few potential explanations.
Firstly, it’s just confused.
Alternatively, it’s having a second bloom, or it’s actually an Easter cactus!
Your Christmas Cactus Is Confused
Christmas cacti tend to bloom when the temperatures are low and the nights are long.
That means that if you’ve had a cold spring and your cactus is kept in a dark or shady spot, it might be confused about what season it is.
This could easily lead to it blooming in May, especially if it did not bloom at Christmas or in the colder winter months.
This is nothing to worry about.
It might be a good idea to give your cactus a little more light, but it won’t be harmed by blooming at this time of year instead.
Related Article: Is A Cactus A Vegetable? (The Answer Might Surprise You)
Your Christmas Cactus Is Blooming Twice
These cacti can bloom twice in one year, so don’t be too surprised if you get a second flush of flowers in late spring even if your plant flowered in the winter.
They won’t always do this, but a happy cactus will be keen to produce lots of flowers, so this is usually a sign that your plant is healthy!
Often, a flowering in mid to late spring will not be as prolific as flowering early in the year or in November/December, but your cactus will still look beautiful if you are fortunate enough to get a second flush of blossoms.
Your Christmas Cactus Is Actually An Easter Cactus
A third possible explanation for spring-flowering – especially if your cactus did not flower in the winter – is that it is in fact an Easter cactus, not a Christmas cactus.
There are three kinds of “celebration” cacti; the Thanksgiving cactus, the Christmas cactus, and the Easter cactus.
If your variety is the third kind, then unsurprisingly, it will flower in late spring, around April or May. This would explain flowers at this time of year, particularly if the weather is not particularly cold.
The three kinds of cacti look pretty similar, so it’s probably no surprise if there has been a mix-up and you’ve got an Easter cactus instead of a Christmas cactus.
The biggest difference is usually in the shape of the leaves.
The Easter cactus leaves have rounded edges, while the Christmas cactus leaves are more scalloped, and the Thanksgiving cactus is claw-like at the edges of its leaves, almost serrated.
You might find it hard to tell which is which unless you are able to put all three species side by side, but if your plant persistently flowers around May instead of during the colder months, check whether its leaves are rounded.
The chances are, it’s actually an Easter cactus, and flowering in May is exactly what it should be doing.
How To Make Your Christmas Cactus Bloom At Christmas
To have your cactus blooming for Christmas, you’ll need to start this process around 8 to 12 weeks beforehand.
Keep It Cool And Dark
When initiating a blooming cycle for your Christmas cactus, you’ll need to keep it somewhere cool (55 to 60 F) and ensure it is getting long, dark nights (minimum 12 to 15 hours darkness) – and this often involves covering it up or blocking the light in some way.
The cold and dark periods will cause your cactus to go into the bud phase.
Fertilize With Every Second Watering
During this time you’ll also want to fertilize about once a month with a bloom formula to stimulate the roots and encourage good bud production.
Allow It To Dry Fully Between Watering Times
Finally, allow the cactus to fully dry out between waterings during this time.
If you want to see a lot of Christmas blooms, the period needs to be quite stressful for your Christmas cactus.
You’ll also want to use a quality cactus potting mix and a container with good drainage.
Beware Of Drafts And Freezing Temperatures
Be careful not to put it anywhere freezing, but keeping it in a cool spot should help to encourage it to blossom.
Strong drafts will cause the buds to drop off (you will usually lose a few anyway, but you don’t want to lose them all).
If the plant loses its buds, it won’t flower again for about a year, so be careful of this.
So, the potential explanations for your Christmas cactus flowering early in the year include unusual weather patterns, a second flush of flowers, or it actually being an Easter cactus.
This kind of flowering shouldn’t be anything to worry about, so enjoy the stunning blossoms and look forward to the next season!