How to Care for Your Christmas Cactus
One of the holiday season’s most popular indoor plants and an elegant Christmas décor. Learn how to care for your Christmas Cactus.
Christmas Cactus, also known as Schlumbergera bridgesii, has become a cheery Christmas houseplant décor to a lot of homes during this holiday season because of its colorful and exotic-looking flowers that bloom just in time for the holidays. Christmas Cactus is not similar to the desert cacti. It originated in the tropical rainforests of Southeastern Brazil, so it prefers a more humid environment compared to other cacti. Plus, for your Christmas Cactus to produce flower buds and to bloom just in time for the holidays, it needs extended darkness for at least four weeks prior.
Fun Fact: Christmas Cactus can live up to 100 years! With a little TLC, this iconic traditional indoor plant can live for generations.
Some people get confused with the types of holiday cactus: Christmas, Easter, and Thanksgiving. Each cactus typically blooms closest or just in time to the holiday that they’re named after. You can easily tell the holiday cacti apart by paying attention to their flowers and leaf shapes.
- Christmas Cactus: They have flattened leaves with rounded teeth on the margins of the leaves. The flowers are tube-shaped.
- Easter Cactus: Similar to Christmas Cacti’s leaves, but their flowers are broader similar to daisies.
- Thanksgiving Cactus: They have flattened leaves with pointed teeth.
Christmas Cactus is one of the easiest houseplants to care for. It’s a perfect houseplant for beginners, as well. Once you bring your new Christmas Cactus at home, leave it in the current container. Repot your Christmas Cactus after it’s done blooming, in a container that is 1 to 1.5 inches larger than the current pot. Make sure that the new container has proper drainage holes to avoid root rot. Repotting your Christmas Cactus in well-draining soil promotes growth and a healthy root system.
Prune your Christmas Cactus if it gets too leggy by cutting off a piece where two branch sections join. Then, stick the base of the cutting into the soil. Provide it with bright light and keep the soil moist. In a few weeks, you will notice roots developing in the area.
Here’s everything else you need to know on how to care for your Christmas Cactus.
|Botanical Name||Schlumbergera bridgesii|
|Common Name||Christmas Cactus|
|Plant Size||Christmas Cactus can grow from 6 to 12 inches.|
|Types of Holiday Cactus||Christmas Cactus, Easter Cactus, and Thanksgiving Cactus.|
|Sunlight||Christmas Cactus can adapt to low light conditions, but it thrives in bright, indirect light.|
|Water||Water the plant thoroughly and keep the soil evenly moist.|
|Humidity||Christmas Cactus prefers humid conditions. Mist it frequently or place the plant on a pebble tray.|
|Temperature||It’s best to maintain the room’s temperature to 65°F. To encourage more blooming, keep the Christmas Cactus in a room with a temperature between 55°F to 65°F.|
|Toxicity||According to ASPCA, Christmas Cactus is a pet-friendly houseplant. It’s non-toxic to cats and dogs.|
|Food||Feed monthly with half-strength water-soluble formula, such as 20-20-20 or 20-10-20, or a houseplant fertilizer during regular watering from late winter to late summer.|
|Pests and Problems||Christmas Cactus is prone to common pests, such as aphids, fungus gnats, mealybugs, soft brown scale insects, and spider mites.|
|Omysa Plant Care Tip||Christmas Cactus somehow thrives on neglect. Don’t be tempted to shower them with too much TLC.|
CREDIT: KARA RILEY / THE SPRUCE
Christmas Cactus Care Tips
Christmas Cactus, when given proper TLC and placed in a perfect location, can bloom throughout the year. Move your Christmas Cactus indoors before the first frost. It’s important to maintain drier soil. In winter, put your Christmas Cactus in a location where it will get four to six hours of indirect sunlight. Keep the soil moist and mist it regularly.
To encourage more stems, put your Christmas Cactus in a hanging planter or on top of a shelf where it has room to drape. Here’s a complete explanation on how to care for your Christmas Cactus, from sunlight requirement to common problems and its solutions.
First, on our list on how to care for your Christmas Cactus is to provide it with bright, indirect light during the day so that it can produce beautiful blooms and to stay healthy. It’s best to place your Christmas Cactus in a spot that gets eastern exposure. Be sure to rotate it at least once a week to ensure balanced growth on all sides.
Common Problem: If your Christmas Cactus looks leggy and weak, this could mean that it’s not getting enough sunlight. However, too much sun will burn your Christmas Cactus.
Solution: Christmas Cactus can adapt to low light conditions, but it will produce blooms more readily if exposed to bright, indirect light. However, too much light will burn its leaves, so keep it in a suitable location.
Next on our list on how to care for your Christmas Cactus is to water it when the top layer of soil feels dry. Usually, once every week, depending on the light exposure and moisture level in your home. Another sign that your plant is thirsty is when its leaves start to wrinkle. When your Christmas Cactus is flowering, make sure the soil is evenly damp.
Common Problem: If the leaves of your are starting to wilt, this could mean that you’re watering too little. However, too much moisture in the soil can lead to root rot.
Solution: To avoid these watering problems, it’s best to check the soil every seven days. Plus, consider the light exposure and moisture level in your home. Never let your Christmas Cactus sit in water as this can lead to root rot. Make sure that it’s properly potted in a planter with holes.
Humidity & Temperature
Adding to our list on how to care for your Christmas Cactus is to put it in a room with high humidity. You can increase the humidity in its spot by misting it regularly, placing it near a humidifier, or by using a pebble tray.
Additionally, your Christmas Cactus prefers a room’s temperature of 65°F. To encourage more blooming, keep the Christmas Cactus in a location with a temperature between 55°F to 65°F.
Another on our list on how to care for your Christmas Cactus is to feed it monthly with half-strength water-soluble formula, such as 20-20-20 or 20-10-20, or a houseplant fertilizer during regular watering from late winter to late summer.
Remember to follow the recommended amount of fertilizer and schedule to avoid fertilizer burn or plant burn.
Pests & Other Problems
If you notice bugs, fungus, or pests on your Christmas Cactus, such as aphids, fungus gnats, mealybugs, soft brown scale insects, and spider mites, the first thing you should do is isolate it and check your other houseplants.
To eliminate these pests, use an insecticide. If that doesn’t work, repot your Christmas Cactus in totally new soil. Wash out the pot thoroughly with soap if you’re going to reuse it.
You can also give your Christmas Cactus a bath to eliminate spider mites or wipe down the leaves with insecticide. Then let your Christmas Cactus dry out and try again. It takes a bit of work to kill spider mites.
That’s a wrap on how to care for your Christmas Cactus. If you’re a beginner or new plant parent, we highly recommend this holiday plant because of its long lifespan. Plus, it’s a great Christmas gift for your family and friends!
Grow your plant knowledge. Check out our Plant Care blog to learn more about different houseplants and tips on how to keep your plants alive and healthy.