Did you know that you one of the best and easiest ways to fertilize your Christmas cactus is by using the leftover coffee grounds from making your morning cup of coffee?
It’s true! Not only do spent coffee grounds contain the perfect balance of trace nutrients to help keep a Christmas cactus healthy and strong throughout the year, but those same nutrients also help the plant develop stronger and better blooms as well.
The Christmas cactus has long been one of the most popular flowering indoor plants to have blooming throughout the holiday season. With its bright green segmented foliage that spills out from the center of the plant, the perennial is great for adding big color and interest indoors the whole year around.
But without a doubt, it’s during December when the plant comes to life. When properly cared for, the Christmas cactus flowers heavily just as the holidays arrive. And when it does, depending on the variety, its flowers can light up a room with blooms of red, white, pink, purple, and even yellow!
But the keywords above, “when properly cared for,” are extremely important when it comes to flowering. And for a Christmas cactus, that means getting just the right amount of light, water, and nutrients. And even more importantly, all at the right time!
How To Fertilize Your Christmas Cactus With Coffee Grounds
Although a Christmas cactus includes the name “cactus”, it’s far from a desert-loving plant. As it turns out, the Christmas cactus is not a true cactus in the least. The beloved plant hails from higher altitude rain forests in Brazil.
In its natural growing location in Brazil, the soil is moist and the air is humid. And because it grows in forests, the plant gets plenty of shade as well. But even more importantly, the plant gets plenty of nutrients from the rich, forest soil. And those nutrients are what help it bloom magnificently.
Potassium and nitrogen are two of the most important energy sources for powering a Christmas cactus. Those nutrients are found readily in the rainforests from all of the decaying plant matter. But when growing in a container indoors, you can mimic those nutrients for your plant easily from coffee grounds.
As it turns out, spent coffee grounds contain both nitrogen and potassium. Even better, it’s in a form that is perfect for the plant to easily absorb. But as you will see next when the plant gets those nutrients from the coffee grounds is the real key to getting big blooms all through the holiday season. And when to fertilize – and when not to just might surprise you!
Fertilizing A Christmas Cactus At The Right Time – How To Fertilize Your Christmas Cactus With Coffee Grounds
One of the biggest mistakes gardeners make with a Christmas cactus is fertilizing it at the wrong time. Unlike most annual and perennial flowers, fertilizing a Christmas cactus right before or as it’s blooming does not help the plant. It hurts it!
Right before a Christmas cactus goes into bloom, it goes through a resting period. This includes more darkness and cooler temperatures to allow it to prepare for blooming. But it also needs a rest from growing – and if you supply it with energy, it will force it to do the exact opposite.
In addition, if you try to feed your plant while it is blooming, it can greatly shorten the life span of those blooms. So when do you fertilize your Christmas cactus? And how do you do it with coffee grounds?
Believe it or not, you need to fertilize your Christmas cactus every month – from February to September – and stop feeding it from October through January! And here’s how to do it with coffee grounds!
How To Fertilize A Christmas Cactus With Coffee Grounds
When fertilizing your Christmas cactus with coffee grounds, it’s important to note we are talking about used coffee grounds, not fresh. Fresh grounds contain too many nutrients and too much acid. Both of which will harm your plants.
Once coffee is brewed, the grounds lose nearly all of their acidity and have much lower nutrient levels. at this point, they are perfect for your Christmas cactus.
To fertilize your plants, first allow the grounds to completely dry out. When adding grounds to the soil, you should not simply lay the grounds on top, but instead stir them into the first inch or so of the soil. If you leave the grounds on top, they can hold water right to the stem, causing the plant to rot. But by stirring them in, it gets the grounds and the nutrients right to the roots without issue.
You will want to start fertilizing in early February or at least a few weeks after your plant finishes blooming. By starting at this point, you allow the plant to start building up energy for next year’s blooms. And will the coffee grounds ever make a difference come next Christmas?
How Much To Use – How To Fertilize Your Christmas Cactus With Coffee Grounds
For an average-sized potted Christmas cactus, you will need to use about 3 tablespoons of coffee grounds for each time you fertilize. Use a bit less for smaller plants and a bit more for any large plants. The real key is to make sure you space out feedings to as close to a month apart as possible.
By doing this, you keep the plant fed with a consistent source of energy to keep building up blooming power. Feed your plant one last time in early September, and then allow it to start resting for its late season blooms.
As a final note on the coffee grounds, only use traditional coffee for the spent grounds. Avoid flavored coffees that can contain additives that could harm your Christmas cactus. Also – stay away from decaffeinated coffee grounds as well. Most contain chemical traces in them from how the caffeine was removed that can harm plants.
Can You Use Coffee Grounds On Thanksgiving & Easter Cacti? – How To Fertilize Your Christmas Cactus With Coffee Grounds
So what about other popular holiday cacti? Yes! Thanksgiving and Eastercacti can also benefit from coffee grounds as well. And just as with the Christmas version, they should only be fertilized in the off-season.
Here is to powering your Christmas cactus with coffee grounds. And to having happy, healthy and big blooming plants all through the holidays! Happy Gardening – Jim and Mary.
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