Christmas Cactus – Timing of a Configure Foliar Spray is Key to Increasing the Flower Number
Over 35 years ago researchers in Japan reported that benzyladenine, the active ingredient in Configure, increased branching and flower bud production in Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera bridgessii). To confirm Configure’s efficacy, we conducted extensive trials at NC State University on Christmas cactus. We found that Configure can be used to increase both branching number and flower bud counts.
By far, the most common use of Configure is to apply it during the floral initiation stage of flower development to increase the number of flower buds (Figure 1). Below are some tips to consider when making applications.
Tips for Increasing Flower Bud Number:
Timing of application is critical to achieve the desired effect. Apply Configure after the start of short days to stimulate an increase of flower bud production. The floral initiation period in Christmas cactus begins under short day conditions.
Optimally short day conditions are achieved with exact control of the long day and short day photoperiods. The time to apply Configure is one week after floral initiation when using black cloth.
If relying upon natural season day length conditions, apply Configure within 2 days after the first flower buds are just visibly emerging from the phylloclades (Figure 2). This typically occurs in early October. (Gently feel the end of the phylloclades for a slight enlargement. This will let you know a flower bud will emerge soon.)
A single foliar spray application of 100 to 200 ppm Configure is ideal for increasing the number of flowers on most Christmas cactus cultivars. If you have never used Configure, consider starting your initial trials with the rate of 100 ppm. Growers have reported that lower rates of 50 ppm may be effective on some white cultivars. Concentrations of 400 ppm or greater can result in the production of an excessive number of small flower buds and many of these may not fully flower.
Be aware to apply Configure only after the plant has begun flower initiation. Applications made in late September while the plants are still vegetative will stimulate additional phylloclades instead of flower buds. This will result in plants with few flowers.
Complete spray coverage required, especially for pots containing multiple cuttings. Configure is not actively transported by the phloem within the plant. Therefore if a portion of the plant is not sprayed, Configure will not move there in the phloem to stimulate additional flower buds.
Overall, Configure foliar sprays applied to Christmas cactus are an excellent method of increasing both the number of phylloclades and flower buds being produced. This will enable you to produce top quality plants that consumers will enjoy.