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Christmas Cactus with Red Leaves

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Question:

I have 3 Christmas Cactus, one of them has ruby red leafs on the ends of it. What causes this?

Hardiness Zone: 5b

Thanks for reading,
Dee49 from PA

Answer:

Dee49,

The red leaves on your Christmas cactus indicate that it has experienced some type of stress. This is usually related to a lack of nutrients and being exposed to excessive bright light (like being set outdoors in the sun). Leaves contain a flavonoid called Anthocyanin, which functions to provide the colors we see in flowers and fruit. In some plants, it is also thought to protect leaves from ultraviolet radiation. (In other plants, it's thought to repel browsing herbivores!) Leaves also contain carotenoids called Xanthophylls. These also help absorb and dissipate any damaging excess light energy that cannot be harvested by the leave's chloroplasts and turned into food. The red leaves on your cactus are an indicator that it has suffered sunburn. This could be from sudden exposure to excess light, or due to the fact that is lacks the nutrients necessary to help filter out damaging ultraviolet light. Check to see that it isn't pot bound, which can effect the root's ability to take up nutrients. As long as it's not pot bound, a boost of fertilizer will probably be enough to turn the leaves back to green again.

Good luck!
Ellen

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About The Author: Ellen Brown is our Green Living and Gardening Expert. Click here to ask Ellen a question! Ellen Brown is an environmental writer and photographer and the owner of Sustainable Media, an environmental media company that specializes in helping businesses and organizations promote eco-friendly products and services. Contact her on the web at http://www.sustainable-media.com

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By susan [5]06/23/2006

The red ones are simply the young, immature leaves. Some varieties are a little redder than others. Once they grow larger and mature, they turn green. When yours blooms, you'll easily tell the difference between these leaves and the buds.

By sherrye (Guest Post)06/23/2006

On mine, the new leaves are red and then turn green. Also, could be the blooms although I think you would know a bloom.

By Carol in PA (Guest Post)06/23/2006

I also have noticed red ends on my Christmas cactus plant that I have outside now on my deck. I've never seen this before and have been wondering what it might be. I thought it might be new leaves growing. To me, it doesnt look like buds forming for blooms...

By Monita Paulson (Guest Post)06/23/2006

I think the red leaves on your Christmas Catus is sunburn. I have mine in the south window, in the winter the sun is hot and the leaves get red. In the winter time they get green again.I think they are pretty that way.

By sandy [63]06/22/2006

i do believe that is your bloom.

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