In Basic Care

How to Make Your Cactus Bloom Without Guessing: 4 Factors You Control

It can be a real pain and more than a little sad to try and get your cactus to bloom only to have nothing happen. Especially when you see them blooming in the store. But if you follow a few simple rules, you will be rewarded with a bright cactus bloom without guessing if you did it right.

4 Factors that affect cactus bloom

Factor #1: Temperature

Cycle the temperature of your cactus to correspond to its natural environment. Just make sure that the cactus is warmer in its growing season and cooler in its dormant season.

Windows are perfect for making a cactus bloom because the air in front of the window is naturally warmer or cooler at the correct time of year.

Factor #2: Light

More light is required when the cactus is actively growing and less light is required for the cactus to rest in the dormant season. Consider taking the cactus out of the window sill in the dormant season to dim it down.

Put the cactus on your desk or a side table when it’s dormant. Make sure that your cactus does not start to etiolate (become pale) because that indicates it isn’t getting the minimum amount of sun it needs and it could die.

Factor #3: Water

In the growing season, make sure to water your cactus more often. Depending on the variety of cactus, you could water once a week at most or every couple of weeks.

In the dormant season, water the cactus less. You could even water your cactus only once a month or so without causing harm to the cactus. If your cactus starts showing signs of dehydration (soil shrinking away from the sides of the pot or aerial roots developing) increase your watering schedule.

Factor #4: Soil

The soil will not need to change to make a cactus bloom. You definitely don’t want to repot your cactus multiple times a year. But the soil does need to be well-drained to allow your cactus ample ability to dry out between watering days.

You can increase the drainage of the soil by adding in perlite or pumice. And most garden centers now sell specialized cactus soil.

What are the Best Cacti to Grow for Flowers

  1. Christmas Cactus (Zygocactus)
  2. Garnet Cactus (Rebutia)
  3. Pincushion Cactus (Mammillaria)
  4. Spiny Cactus (Echinocactus)
  5. Easter Cactus (Rhipsalidopsis)
  6. Prickly Pear (Opuntia)
cactus flowers

How Can I Make a Cactus Bloom

A cactus blooms when it follows a normal cycle throughout the year. Instead of your cactus being at the same temperature or getting watered the same all year long, you have to mimic its natural environment. Without the regular growth and dormancy cycles, your cactus will never bloom because it won’t know when to do so.

Before you begin trying to get your cactus to bloom, you need to make sure you have a variety that can bloom. Check out the list below for good options. A fun fact is that many fuzzy leaf succulents are great at producing blooms!

How do You Know When a Cactus is Going to Bloom

If you know which variety of cactus you have, you can look up when it normally blooms. If you don’t know which variety you have, it is more common for the growing season (and therefor the blooming season) to be in the spring and summer.

How Long do Cactus Blooms Last

The length of time that a cactus bloom lasts is dependent on the the variety of cactus. Don’t forget that cactus bloom in order to attract animals that will help them reproduce by spreading pollen, just like any other flower.

Some cactus blooms only last a few hours and others will last for several weeks. You may find that your cactus only blooms at night or at dawn when the sun is low.

When Do Cactus Bloom

Besides the length of time a cactus bloom lasts, the season a cactus normally blooms is dependent on the variety. There are cactus that bloom at different times of year depending on when they would normally get pollinated.


Several varieties of cactus bloom only at night. Blooming at night preserves the energy that the cactus would otherwise waste by blooming in daytime. And it attracts specific insects and animals that are more active at night. Many of these varieties are known for growing quite tall if cared for properly.

  • Epiphyllum (Orchid cacti)
  • Hylocereus (Dragon fruit cacti)
  • Peniocereus (Deer horn cacti)
  • Selenicereus (Vanilla cacti)
  • Echinopsis (San Pedro cacti)
  • Cereus (Peruvian apple cacti)
Christmas cactus bloom

Christmas Cactus

A Christmas cactus is a unique variety of cactus that produces a lot of beautiful blooms at the end of the year, right before going dormant. Because the prolific blooms occur between Thanksgiving and Christmas, the cactus is named for that time of year.

A Christmas cactus is one of the easiest cacti to get to bloom and highly recommended for beginners who are patient enough for the end-of-year flower show.

How Long does a Cactus Take to Flower

Some cactus plants will bloom with very little time and effort involved. Others will require years or decades of patient care before producing a bloom. Cacti varieties that take the longest to flower are agave and saguaros. Worse yet, some varieties will only bloom once in their lifetime.


When you cycle the environment of a cactus to match its natural environment, you will be rewarded with numerous cactus blooms. These bright, vibrant flowers are easy to enjoy with a few simple tips.

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