Christmas cactus is one of the most popular indoor festive plants as it grows and blossoms during the winter season.
It is a quite common gift among gardeners because of its amazing, vivid blossom.
However, the plant is used to a tropical environment (like some other Christmas cacti variants such as thanksgiving cacti), and getting the Christmas cactus to blossom the following year is often tricky, especially to amateur gardeners.
To develop those Christmas cactus blooms, the plant requires proper lighting conditions, a watering schedule, as well as suitable fertilizer, which is what I would like to focus on in this article.
Below you will find a list of the best fertilizers for Christmas cactus that will boost the Christmas cactus bloom, while also promote plant growth.
- Fertilizer for Christmas Cactus
- What to look for in Christmas Cactus fertilizer?
Fertilizer for Christmas Cactus
Fertilizer for Christmas cactus
Before I introduce the list, I would like to briefly talk about how to fertilize Christmas cactus and general care, as there are many recommendations, debates, and myths.
Christmas cactus can blossom indoors, but not without the slight boost from the fertilizer. The same goes for other festive plants as Thanksgiving cactus and Easter cactus.
The fertilizer should be an all-purpose fertilizer, quite water-diluted, and with a 20-20-20 composition.
In most cases, gardeners fertilize the monthly Christmas cactus in a non-blossoming period which starts from late winter, when new leaves are developing. This period typically lasts till mid-October and once flower buds start to form, you can stop feeding.
Move the plant to a dark room with cooler temperatures, and once flowers start to develop, move it back to its spot.
Now that you have some general information about how to boost the new growth of those stunning red flowers, let’s get back to the list of best fertilizers I have prepared.
QUICK OVERVIEW: Best Fertilizer for Christmas Cactus
Miracle-Gro Indoor Fertilizer
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EarthPods – Organic Spikes
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1. Miracle-Gro Indoor Fertilizer
The first product on the list is the Miracle-Gro Indoor Plant Foor, 8-Ounce.
Many gardeners are already familiar with Miracle-Gro and the quality of their products.
They offer different fertilizers, as well as potting mix, with proper formulation that will boost the formation of buds and new growth of your indoor plants.
This fertilizer offers exactly what your Christmas cacti need.
- Manufacturer: Scotts – Miracle-Gro
- Item weight: 1.32 pounds
- Package dimensions: 7,68 x 5,75 x 1,85 inches
For starters, the NPP composition (or nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium ratio) is ideal for Christmas cactus and other types of this plant.
As said, the recommended composition is either 10-10-10 (as in the case of this Miracle-Gro fertilizer), or 20-20-20.
The proper ratio of these three minerals makes this the well-balanced fertilizer, which will make sure that the cactus grows throughout the year and promote blooming in the holiday season.
As said, fertilizers should be diluted, so I wouldn’t recommend using them straight from the bottle.
Take a small cup, squirt the fertilizer only once, and add the water. You can pour the diluted fertilizer directly into the well-draining soil.
The fertilizer is stored in a bottle with a pump, so it can be easily added to the soil.
In case you are not diluting the fertilizer, make sure that you don’t use more than two squirts, and do not forget to water the plant generously afterward.
The fertilizer is in the form of foam and easily dissolves in the soil.
On the packaging, you will see that the recommended use is once a week, however, you don’t have to stick to this strictly. As said, fertilizing monthly is more than enough. You can even do it every two weeks until early October, but always check whether the potting soil is completely dry, since you have to water the plant afterward.
The bottle is only eight ounces, or around 230 milliliters, which is more than enough for the growing season.
Since it is an all-purpose fertilizer, the rest of your indoor plants will benefit from it as well.
- Easy to use
- Suitable for almost all indoor plants, can be diluted or added directly into the potting soil
- The best composition for Christmas cactus and its blooms
- When added directly, the foam doesn’t always mix well with the soil
2. PLANT FOOD INDOOR
If you are looking for organic fertilizer, I would suggest Plant Food Indoor fertilizer by Espoma.
This company is known for its wide range of organic, gardening products. If you need an organic potting medium, fertilizer, or any other gardening product, Espoma is always a good choice.
When it comes to their fertilizers, many of them are formulated for specific species – for example, there are separate fertilizers for tomatoes and cacti.
Furthermore, they have fertilizers with specific functions. Some will boost growth, while others are used to boost blooming.
In the case of the Christmas cactus bloom, their organic indoor fertilizer is a good choice.
- Manufacturer: Espoma company
- Item weight: Espoma company pounds
- Package dimensions: 8,58 x 6,69 x 3,62 inches
So, what separates this fertilizer from others on this list?
Well, as stated, Espoma is an organic fertilizer that is in harmony with nature, thus you don’t have to worry about any potentially harmful effects for both your plant and environment.
Also, this specific Espoma fertilizer is formulated to give the indoor plants needed nutrients to promote their growth, blooms, and health. The NPK composition is 20-20-20, just as Christmas cacti demand.
It is composed of proteins, as well as microbes, and humic acid that will ensure plant development during the growing season and blooming in the late winter period.
So your Christmas cactus will not only get minerals it needs, but additional nutrients as well needed for actively growing the plant indoors. Once early October arrives, you can expect to see many buds.
Also, the additional components of this fertilizer could help resolve some of the common Christmas cactus problems.
It is recommended to use the fertilizer once every two weeks, which matches the Christmas cactus fertilizing needs perfectly.
Furthermore, Espoma recommends using this fertilizer diluted. Before use, mix it with water and then add it to the cactus.
The bottle of around 230 milliliters when diluted makes around 8 gallons of food, which is enough to last you during a better period of the growing season, and the composition of the fertilizer is suitable for other houseplants as well.
Another thing that I find amazing about this product is the design of the bottle.
To dose, the fertilizer put a bit of pressure on the bottle. Once you are done, just close the lid – there is no leaking or mess, and you don’t have to worry about the product getting wasted.
- Easy to use, no mess
- Great price
- Organic fertilizer with microbes
- The dozing is a bit tricky
3. Osmocote Smart-Release
If you own plants that require different growing conditions but need the fertilizer that will suit them all, I would recommend the Osmocote 274150 Smart-Release Plant Food Plus Outdoor & Indoor.
Osmocote is well known for its smart fertilizers – the nutrients are slowly released thus providing the required food for an extended period and in required doses.
Furthermore, the fertilizer is added directly into the new soil, so most of the nutrients are delivered to the roots, which ensures proper development during the growing season.
For Christmas cactus, this fertilizer works amazing, but let’s take a closer look at some specifications first.
- Manufacturer: Scotts Miracle-Gro
- Item weight: 1.1 pounds
- Package dimensions: 2,57 x 3,2 x 5,66 inches
This smart fertilizer works for all growing conditions – as stated on the bottle, it is for both indoor and outdoor plants, so if you own a larger garden, you can use the same fertilizer for all of your plants.
What makes it suitable for the Christmas cactus?
Well, Osmocote fertilizer has the highest level of nutrients.
Since indoor Christmas cactus is growing in conditions significantly different from the natural ones, they need an extra boost before bloom time.
For the Christmas cactus to develop more flowers every season, certain supplements have to be added to the plant starting from early spring and throughout spring and summer.
Osmocote will ensure that all nutrients are delivered to the plant’s roots in needed doses and over a longer period, so you have to fertilize the plant every few weeks, instead of on weekly basis.
There are eleven nutrients in total, all considered essential nutrients for the right plant growth.
Unlike the rest of the fertilizers on this list, this one is in form of granules, so it is added directly into the soil.
You scoop a cup of the fertilizer from the bag and add it directly into the soil. Because of the slow release of nutrients, you don’t have to worry about burns or any damage the plant food may cause.
Then mix it gently with the soil and water the plant.
With each next watering, the nutrients are released.
Each granule has a thin, resin shell, and the food is stored inside the resin.
The shell is water-permeable, so when you water the plant, it can easily reach the nutrients.
As temperature changes, nutrients leave the granule – typically, in cooler, night temperatures this release will be slightly slower.
Once all nutrients leave the granule, the shell with a bit of water inside remains in the soil.
The Christmas cactus will receive nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium in optimal amounts since the NPK value is 15-9-12, as well as magnesium and sulfur.
- Slow, smart release
- Lasts for six months
- Composed of eleven essential nutrients
- The plastic shell is not degradable
4. Dynamite All Purpose
It is hard to say among the listed products, which is the best fertilizer since all of them have great composition and do an amazing job for Christmas cactus.
Dynamite 85001 Select All Purpose Plant Food, as the previous fertilizer on this list, stores plant food in form of small granules.
The benefits of this type of fertilizer are numerous.
Firstly, Christmas cactus is not a demanding plant – it does require indirect light, and cooler temperatures when buds start to form, but throughout the year taking care of it is generally easy.
Thus the need for fertilizer is not high, and this slow-release works amazing for this indoor plant.
Furthermore, there is less waste, and you don’t have to keep track of the feeding schedule, since usually, one cup of products lasts a few months.
- Manufacturer: Scotts -Dynamite
- Item weight: 7 pounds
- Package dimensions: 10,4 x 7,4 x 3,4 inches
Let’s begin with the composition since this is the most important for Christmas cactus.
As stated, Christmas cactus generally require monthly fertilizing, and the NPP value should be either 10-10-10 or 20-20-20. It is important to use all-purpose, well-balanced fertilizers, as they give the best results.
In the case of Dynamite fertilizer, this ratio is 15-5-9. Even though it does differ from 10-10-10, the nutrients are still well balanced to promote the growth of buds.
Besides these nutrients, it also contains numerous other necessary for proper plant development.
Calcium is one of those minerals. It is important for a plant’s structure, especially for indoor plants.
Throughout the holiday season, you can enjoy the big, vividly red flowers of your Christmas cactus.
The fertilizer is stored inside the plastic bag. This sometimes makes the dosage tricky, since you cannot add the fertilizer straight from the bag.
I would recommend using any measuring cup to scoop out the fertilizer and add it to the growing medium.
Make sure it is mixed with the potting mix, placed a maximum of an inch deep into the soil.
The fertilizer is released when the soil is watered and the membrane is allowing water to enter the granule and dissolve the nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, deliver them straight to the roots and boost the plant development.
Whenever you water the plant in the future, the food will slowly decompose into the soil.
- Slow delivery of micronutrients
- Lasts for nine months
- Great composition to boost blooming
- Difficult to dose
5. EarthPods – Organic Spikes
Last but not least is the EarthPods Premium Indoor Plant Food – Easy Organic Fertilizer Spikes.
This is the only spike fertilizer on this list and the advantages of this type of fertilizer are numerous.
Usually, they are far more convenient to use – after you place the earth and plant in the pot, you just stick the fertilizer next to the drip line.
Thus, as micronutrients are gradually released, the roots absorb them, and the formation of buds, blooms, and flowers is boosted.
Also, storing them is usually more practical, and often you don’t have to worry about pests and diseases.
- Manufacturer: Earthworm technologies
- Item weight: 4 ounces
- Package dimensions: 2,56 x 2,56 x 2,75 inches
One of the main advantages of this fertilizer is the easy usage – both liquid fertilizers and granules require measuring, however, with spikes this step is skipped.
In the case of small cactus, one EarthPod will be more than enough, and for bigger Christmas cacti, up to four are recommended.
The spike should be replaced every three weeks, so one packaging will last you till late September.
EarthPod created an organic fertilizer with over 70 nutrients.
It contains both micro and macronutrients, essential for the blooming of Christmas cactus and Thanksgiving cactus.
Furthermore, the fungi and bacteria which promote the growth of blooms are present as well, so all additional micronutrients not only boost the growth but also help resolve some common problems such as bud drop or root rot.
Humates are present as well and boost the further development of flowers on your indoor cactus.
Don’t forget about the NPP – this EarthPod fertilizer is an all-purpose one, so this ratio is 20-20-20, just as indoor cactus demands.
The food is released slowly, over time, as the plant is watered, so Christmas cactus thrives in indoor conditions.
- Easy to use, organic
- Consists of 70 different micronutrients as well as beneficial bacteria and fungi
- NPP: 20-20-20
- The all-purpose fertilizer might be too strong for some cactus types
What to look for in Christmas Cactus fertilizer?
Picking the fertilizer or any gardening product is quite difficult because a wrong choice can damage your indoor garden.
Christmas cactus is not demanding – as you can see, indoor conditions are more than fine for it to grow and develop, but without the boost from fertilizer, it won’t blossom.
So, the next time you are picking the plant food for your Christmas cactus, take into account the following:
In my experience, Christmas cacti thrive when fed with an all-purpose fertilizer.
This means that the formulation of NPK should be 20-20-20.
You can even go for 10-10-10, as a lower percentage of nutrients can still boost the growth of flowers.
When it comes to formulation, another thing you should pay attention to is magnesium. Using fertilizer with magnesium once a month will be more than enough to fulfill the Christmas cactus’s needs for this element.
This plant is incredibly sensitive to salt build-up in the soil.
When it happens, the plant requires washing, and in some cases, even repotting.
To avoid salt build-up, use fertilizers that are soluble in water.
Follow the instructions on the packaging, to see what is the maximum amount that should be added to one gallon of water.
3. Type of plant food
Liquid fertilizers are the most suitable for Christmas cacti.
As the plant won’t require frequent feeding, one bottle of the fertilizer could last through the entire feeding season.
Also, because these fertilizers are water-soluble, I would choose them over slow-release ones, as there is less chance of salt build-up.
If you are worried about overfertilizing your Christmas cactus, then you can try out the plant food with the continuous release, just be careful with the dosing.
4. Organic or synthetic
Christmas cactus has a problem with different pests, and the type of fertilizer may be adding to this problem.
Pests are more drawn to synthetic fertilizers, and the problem becomes so big that many gardeners spend a fortune on different pesticides.
Since your plant will most likely have a problem with certain insects, I would suggest using organic fertilizer.
This type draws insects too, but good ones that can help your plant battle the bad.
When should I fertilize my Christmas cactus?
Christmas cacti are holiday plants, so the flower buds typically form around Christmas time. In general, you should start feeding in early spring and till late summer or autumn. The cactus requires monthly feedings, and requires magnesium sulfate to develop properly, and form flower buds, but always use diluted, liquid fertilizers. In case of granules or fertilizer spikes, add them directly into the pot, and mix them well with the growing medium. Sometimes, you can even dissolve the granules before feeding the plant. Once flowers start to form, make sure that the cactus is receiving a lot of indirect light during the day, as buds drop can occur when exposed to bright light in this period, in a cool room and dry environment, because cacti generally tolerate dry conditions.
Can you use Miracle Grow on Christmas cactus?
Yes, fertilizers made by Miracle Grow are generally a good choice for these cacti. This company has a wide range of gardening products, and cacti prefer either all-purpose fertilizer or mix designed specifically for them. The one product presented in this article is a liquid fertilizer. When you plant your cactus in the pot, dilute the fertilizer with water, and feed the plant. Make sure that the soil is evenly moist and then place the pot away from hot air or direct sunlight, as this could damage the flower buds.
Are coffee grounds good for Christmas cactus?
Yes! Using coffee grounds can enhance the blossoming of both Christmas cactus and Thanksgiving cactus. You will still have to pay attention to few things when using coffee. Firstly, it is easy to overwater the plant. Once you add the coffee grounds to the pot and water the cactus, make sure that all water evaporates, let the soil completely dry, then water the plant again. Also, know the type of coffee you are adding. Not any type will work for cacti. Black coffee is the best choice and you can easily find it in any grocery store.
What is the best fertilizer for cactus?
The best one is an all-purpose fertilizer, with 20-20-20 NPP, and potentially with a good amount of magnesium sulfate. This combination of nutrients is good for cactus flower development, as well as for preventing some common problems such as root rot. Furthermore, it is recommended to dilute the food before adding it to the new pot, as well as to stop feeding in late summer as cacti start developing flowers.
As you can see, taking care of Christmas cactus is not so difficult as this plant tolerates indirect sunlight, shady spot, cold night temperatures, and dry soil.
However, your plant will need a bit of a boost to blossom, so getting fertilizer is a must.
Also, using coffee grounds is recommended, and with the right potting medium, and an additional boost from one of the mentioned fertilizers, your Christmas cactus will thrive in the next holiday season.