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Caring for a Christmas Cactus

Christmas Cactus in bloom

The Christmas cactus is an easy to grow house plant with a little understanding of its needs. This is a guide about caring for a Christmas cactus.



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Here are questions related to Caring for a Christmas Cactus.

Question: Caring For A Christmas Cactus

My Christmas cactus blooms, but is not growing taller or fuller. It is just staying the same size. How can I increase plant growth? What kind of fertilizer should I use?

Hardiness Zone: 6b

By Gayle from Rochester, NY

Most Recent Answer

By Bobby3310/08/2011

I use Miracle Gro liquid fertilizer on my Christmas Cactus about once a month and not too much. I mix up a Tbsp. in a gallon of water and just put a small amount on each plant.

Question: Dividing and Repotting a Christmas Cactus

How do I separate a Christmas Cactus that is root bound?

By Marcia from Spokane Valley, WA

Most Recent Answer

By Marcia03/19/2012

Thank You for the easy instructions I appreciate it. I had done a Google search and it didn't not give me the help You have.

Question: Christmas Cactus Wilted

My xmas cactus is wilted and the leaves are really flat. It got too much water so I transplanted it into fresh dry soil.

By Cathy

Most Recent Answer

By judy09/24/2012

Even though they are cactus, they still need some water. If you transplanted into completely dry soil, it's probably thirsty!

Question: Damaged Christmas Cactus

Sundamaged Christmas cactus.I'm an utter houseplant idiot. I thought a Christmas cactus could withstand direct sunlight and put it on my deck for all of last summer. When I brought it in, it was horribly sunburned and many of the "leaves" are withered.

I've had it indoors all winter and have been watering more regularly (it bloomed like crazy despite its condition). Is there hope for it (it looks terrible)? Or should I try to take cuttings from the few healthy looking branches? Or can I severely prune it and hope for regrowth? And how exactly does one prune this plant?

Hardiness Zone: 5b

By Shelby from Chicago, IL

Most Recent Answer

By maria04/17/2010

Hi, sorry about your Christmas Cactus but you can still salvage it actually you can produce a new plant just by taking one of the new leafs and just repotting it. I have done this and it works. I have one and every time a branch falls off I stick it back in the dirt and in a couple of weeks it will start to grow new branches.

Don't over water only when dry and put it on a porch in the summer away from direct sunlight we live in Florida and that's where mine are in the summer. winter months they come in doors and when they are in bloom never move the plant the buds will start to fall off if you do. I hope this is helpful.

Question: Replanting a Christmas Cactus

I need to know how to replant a Christmas cactus that needs to be trimmed.

Hardiness Zone: 6a

By Vicki from Conneaut

Most Recent Answer

By Nancy02/24/2010

Hi Vicki, I grow epiphyllums (commonly called orchid cactus) and I think the care is the same as Christmas cactus. If you want to cut off some of the fronds, you can actually let them sit (out of the sun, but just laying on a table, etc.) for a few days until the cut end seals and plant them for a new plant. Then just pot up the old plant in a slightly larger pot using 1/2 orchid bark (medium will do) and potting soil. Since it is a succulent, don't water it much for the first two weeks, especially the new cuttings. Good luck!

Question: Buds Falling Off Christmas Cactus

What causes buds to fall off a Christmas cactus without opening?

By Billie B from Garland, TX

Most Recent Answer

By Catherine12/24/2013

The causes could be:
turning the pot as the buds will try to bend to one side to receive more light and fall off, leaves with petiole can follow the light but buds have no petiole and will fall off.
watering too soon. It is better to wait until the buds turn into flowers.
watering with cold water.


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Archive: Caring For A Christmas Cactus


Caring For A Christmas Cactus
*** How do I care for my Christmas Cactus? Advice from the ThriftyFun community.

Thanksgiving Cactus Care

I have a Thanksgiving cactus that I have had for over 20 years, it is similar to a Christmas cactus. It is in a small ceramic pot. I keep it on my deck in the summertime and feed it with rose food. I bring it in in October and do not water until dry. It blooms at Thanksgiving time. I continue to feed with rose food until after it blooms. The blooms on mine are peach-colored. It is a beautiful sight at Thanksgiving.


Keep Them Rootbound And Dry

Christmas Cactus love to be rootbound and watered infrequently. Always let the dirt dry completely out before watering, too much water will kill them. It will take some time to "recover" from being transplanted twice, but they are hearty and as long as you don't over water it should be fine.

By Judy

Care Throughout The Year

"Watering seems to be the source of most problems with the Christmas cactus. The plant is a tropical type cactus and is not quite as drought tolerant as the name implies. However, it is a succulent plant and can store a reasonable quantity of water in the leaves. Water thoroughly when the top half of the soil in the pot feels dry to the touch. Discard the excess water, then do not water again until the top half becomes dry. The length of time between waterings will vary with the air temperature, amount of light, rate of growth and relative humidity.

After the blossoms fade, the plant isn't much to look at. But a little extra care will help bring it back to full bloom next year.

While the Christmas cactus can adapt to low light, more abundant blooms are produced on plants that have been exposed to high light intensity. Keep your plants in a sunny location indoors. Plants can be moved outdoors in summer, but keep them in a shady or semi-shady location. Too much direct sunlight can burn the leaves. When it's time to bring the plants back inside in the fall, slowly adjust the plants to life indoors by gradually increasing the number of hours they spend indoors each day.

Well-drained soil is a must for Christmas cactus. Use a commercially packaged potting mix for succulent plants or mix your own by combining two parts plain potting soil with one part clean sand or vermiculite.

Pruning your Christmas cactus after blooming will encourage the plant to branch out. Remove a few sections of each stem by pinching them off with your fingers or cutting with a sharp knife. These sections can be rooted in moist vermiculite to propagate new plants. Christmas cactus will bloom if given long uninterrupted dark periods. Begin the dark treatments in about mid-October to have plants in full bloom by the holidays. Christmas cactus will also bloom if they are subjected to cool temperatures of about 50 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit at night. Plants will be ready for the holidays if the cool treatments are started by early November."

By sabrina_ca

When It Starts To Bloom, Don't Move It

My Christmas cactus is only 2 years old and is in an 8" pot. It blooms from the mid November on. Mine is still blooming.

The idea is once it starts to get buds on it, "don't move" it. They don't like to be moved when the budding starts. I water mine once a week it is in a well draining pot. I also give mine a shower once a month in the tub. That counts for a watering.

Do not fertilize in the spring. Fertilize once a month from summer to winter. When it starts to bloom, stop fertilizing it.

Good luck, it will survive I just know it.

Watch Out For Squirrels When Outside

They thrive when rootbound. Also, they like to dry out between waterings. They love to be outside in summer (northern climate) and brought in in fall, but be careful squirrels love to munch on them. Some called Christmas cactus are not, there are Thanksgiving and Easter cacti out there, also. They are all beautiful, but different.

By Judy

Step By Step Care For Mother Plants And Cuttings

I have grown several varieties of Christmas cactus for many years. I have a mother plant that is 40 years old and weighs over 200 lbs. I use clippings from that and create new ones with my other varieties to create different variations and colors. Some have double and triple blooms. Those are sometimes called mother-in-law cactus. They are all the same in essence. Mine bloom at Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc. except during the heat of summer unless you put them in a lightly shaded area. They do not require watering other than once a week. They love to have their soil loosened when transplanted. They hate being pot bound. Just remember when you transfer them to loosen soil, put in a larger pot. They will become bigger each time you transfer over years into larger pots, it's like creating mother plants. You can't make many more from those for propagation purposes.

Also, remember they do not direct sunlight in summer, that's when leaves will turn yellow some and may wilt. They are from the succulent family, hence don't like over watering. Soil will become moldy and you are inviting plant insects to feast on them. Also, always use a light soil fertile mix when transplanting and try and keep it loose every once and awhile. At this point, I would suggest that you take a clipping also from the plant. You do that by snapping off a piece or two where it is jointed. Put that in a clear container filled with water in a sunny spot until you see visible roots. Change water in container every once in a while. It really doesn't take long to root new ones. You can arrange them so they will begging to hang over nicely. They also like to have a hair cut when they become huge. You can make a ton of new plants from the clippings. Once they are rooted, just plant them in new pots by sticking the rooted part in soil.

Once you have established plants, there is a product called Bloom or Peter's that works on all kinds of blooming plants.

Good luck.

By Dee

Post your own tips here.

RE: Caring For A Christmas Cactus

I left the cactus outside all summer on a patio that received morning sunshine. I brought it in in late October before frost and placed it in a West window with partial shade. It was loaded with buds when I brought it in and I was careful to turn it to face the window on the same side that faced the sun outdoors. (12/06/2007)

By agritate

RE: Caring For A Christmas Cactus

RE: Caring For A Christmas Cactus

I have two Christmas cactus and I water mine with my leftover coffee. They must like it because I have had two buds in the same place all over my cactus and they both bloom. (11/02/2009)

By sistine