Hi guy’s 🙂
I am always being asked what I do to get my Cacti and succulent to flower, and because it is not a short one to answer I decided to make a video on my You Tube channel Desert Plants of Avalon sharing my tips on what I do to help to encourage my plants to bloom, and you can watch the video below. I also decided to write this Blog also for you to read and I will be sharing with you some of my tips on what has helped me to get my Cacti and succulents to flower over the years, and I hope that you will be able to get some tips from this to help you to get your cacti and succulents BLOOMING LOVELY 🙂
When it comes to me getting my cacti and succulents to flower, I have found that these are the top 5 things that have made a huge difference to the flowering of all of my plants.
1) Overwintering. A cool dry rest period for the desert cacti and most of the other succulent plants is essential for these plants to flower.
Overwinter your cacti and succulents by stopping watering them from Autumn to Winter, which for me here in Ireland is from Oct -March. keeping them in a dry,bright and cool room to let them rest for the Winter will greatly encourage them to come into flower in the Spring and Summer.
Exceptions to this are the Epiphytic cacti and some of the Winter growing succulents that are actively growing and should not be kept totally dry over the Winter. I discuss this in greater detail in another growing tip page on this website and can be read HERE
2) Sunshine, Sunshine is absolutely essential for flowering. The desert cacti and many succulents will never flower in a north facing window that never receives any sun. Desert Cacti and most of the succulents THRIVE in as much sunshine as possible. Some of the Epiphytes such as the Schlumbergera cacti, commonly known as the Thanksgiving and Christmas cacti, may flower and even thrive in a bright but sunless north window, but I have never had any success with getting any of my Epiphytic cacti to flower in a north window but there are many other growers who have.
When it comes to the desert types they need as much bright sunshine as you can possible give them to produce their flowers, so ideally a south facing position would be ideal for them where they can receive many hours of sunshine a day, the next best location for them is an east or west window. However Aloes, Haworthias and Gasterias prefer an east or west window 🙂
3) Underpotting rather than over potting, I often find that if a cactus is
slightly under potted then this will encourage flowering, maybe because cacti like to have their roots a bit cramped, as in their natural habitat many of them will grow out of small rock crevices.
Its always best that you never re pot a cactus or a succulent when it is coming into bud as it is very possible that it may drop its buds because of the stress of being re potted.
I have often found that if a plant has been recently re potted, then it may skip a year of flowering even if the pot is just the next size up.
This may happen because the plant is using its energy to make new roots instead of flowers, and now I will often hold back on re potting any of them needing it until after they have flowered for their usual flowering month.
Here is a video I have made for my You tube channel Desert Plants of Avalon on How to re pot a cactus and you can watch this video below .
4) Tomato fertilizer I have found using tomato fertilizer feed to be such a bonus for flowering. Although there a number of different fertilizers specifically for cactus and succulent on the market, and trust me I have tried a lot of them over the years, but one of the best I have used for success has not been for cacti but for plain old Tomato plants.
I can assure you I have never had any tomatoes on my cacti yet haha! I use Maxicrop Organic tomato fertilizer which is made from all natural plant ingredients and has the benefit of being Vegan friendly.
I use Maxicrop organic tomato fertilizer on all of my cacti and succulent plants from early March up until early September, and only occasionally in the Winter on any of my winter growing and flowering plants.
I always use it at half the strength they recommend for tomatoes, and with every third watering.
Since feeding my plants with tomato fertilizer, I have had such success with flowering as well as healthy looking plants too. I always prefer to use tepid clean rainwater when watering all my plants, and if you are not familiar with the benefits of using rainwater instead of regular tap water you can find out more information from another growing tips page that I have created HERE.
5) Age The age of the cactus and succulent has a lot to do with why a cactus or succulent may not flower.
Most of the cacti and some of the succulents will not flower until they are a number of years old, especially when grown indoors in pots rather than outdoors in the garden.
However well grown your plants are, and even if the are kept in excellent conditions, many of the tall columnar cacti may never bloom indoors, and many may have to get to a great height and age before they will produce flowers.
I have been growing many of my cacti for over 30 years now, and I am only just seeing flowers on some of my tall cereus cacti varieties now that I purchased as a teenager, so that is a hell of a lot of patience haha!
If you only want to grow cacti because of their flowers and you haven’t got the time or patience to wait until your 3 inch high Cereus peruvianus grows about 6 ft indoors, then the better choice would be to go for cacti such as Rebutia’s Mammillaria’s, Lobivia;s Gymnocalyciums, Chamaecereus and the Epiphytic cacti, especially the Epihyllum hybrids that are very easy to grow and flower 🙂
6, Clean and dust free
Keeping your cacti and succulents clean and dust free not only helps to keep your plants healthy but allows as much light as possible to get your plants, a dusty cactus or succulent not only looks awful but the dust blocks out a lot of light for the plant, use a little artist brush to get in between the spines of your cactus, and use a damp cloth to wipe off dust off your fleshy succulents 🙂
7, The right soil medium
Make sure that you are using the right soil for your cactus and succulents, so many of the succulent plants you buy in the shops are potted in peat based soil, which is a disaster for cacti and succulents, not only does it attract root mealies, but it dries like carboard and it is very difficult to re wet again, instead make your own potting mix, so you know exactly what is going into it, I like to use 3 equal parts of a soil based compost such as John Innes no 2 or 3 and Horticultural sand and grit, I have made a video for my You Tube channel Desert Plants of Avalon on how to make Cactus and succulent compost and you can watch this video below.
If you are looking for succulents that are easy to get to flower then I would recommend the Crassulas, Kalanchoe’s, Haworthia’s, Lithops and Echeverias, but I would love you to see your plants as something that will grow with you. When I look back to when I was a teenager getting my first plants, I could not have imagined the joy and pleasure they have given me over 30+yrs and the flowers are a bonus and it really is surprising how much joy plants gives you when you get to see their first blooms.
Below is one of the very first cacti that I ever had when I was just 13 years old. It is a Chamaecereus silvestrii, commonly known as The peanut cactus.
I have had this plant for over 30 years and over time it has grown into the size of a large dinner plate, and although when it flowers it is a feast for the eyes, funnily enough I have never been tempted to eat it no matter how beautiful it looks 🙂
If you find that your cactus and succulents drop their buds before they have a chance to flower, there can be a few reasons for this. Certain cacti like the Echinoposis varieties are very prone to this, Often a few good sunny days will encourage your plants to come into bud, but if these days are then followed by a few days of overcast dull weather, then this can sometimes cause your plant to abort the buds.
Never move your plants once they have come into bud as this is a very common cause of bud drop, even turning your plant around at the windowsill can cause them to abort their buds. wait until after the flowers have opened and died off before moving your plant/s.
Here is a video that I made for my You Tube channel Desert Plants of Avalon where I talk in more detail about Flower bud drop and why it happens.and you can watch this video below
Thanks so much for reading guy’s and wishing you all every success with getting your cacti and succulents to bloom 🙂