Christmas cactus feature scalloped stems, flat leaves and blooms at the stem tips. Despite the name, the Christmas cactus isn't a cactus at all. They are commonly found growing on top of tree branches in warm, moist jungles. When properly cared for, a Christmas cactus lasts for generations. Take some cuttings and pass them along to other relatives.
Christmas cactus thrives in fast-draining soil that isn't compacted. Transplanting your cactus regularly, about every year, and adding sand or perlite to help with drainage, helps the plant thrive. Place your Christmas cactus in a well-lighted area for the most amounts of blooms, but avoid direct sunlight during the hot summer months. Sunlight can burn the leaves.
Too Much Water
A wilting Christmas cactus may indicate root rot. Check the roots. If they are mushy or brown, your Christmas cactus has root rot. Clip away any problem roots and repot it in well-draining potting soil made specifically for succulents.
Too Little Water
Christmas cactus wilts and drops blooms if the plant is stressed from not enough water. Water the soil until the top inch feels moist but not soggy, and then let the plant have a brief dry spell. Watering frequency depends upon humidity levels.
Christmas cactus needs the most amount of moisture when the plant is growing and blooming. After blooming, let the plant rest in a cool location, about 10.0 to 12.7 degrees Cor about eight weeks. During this time, water the plant sparingly. Begin the dark treatments around the mid-October to late November to ensure it blooms by the Christmas holidays. Keep the air around the plant humid by either using a mister or storing it in a bathroom or near an aquarium. Encourage future branching and growth by removing a few sections along each stem. Pinch off a section or cut it off with a sharp knife.
B. Rosie Lerner from Purdue University suggests repotting your Christmas cactus if it dries out or wilts frequently. Choose a larger container and add more succulent potting mix or combine two parts regular soil with one part clean sand.
- "Horticulture" magazine; Wilting Christmas Cactus; Meghan Shinn; Feb, 15, 2011
- Purdue University Consumer Horticulture; Care of Christmas Cactus Important After Holidays; B. Rosie Lerner; Dec. 7, 1995
- Purdue University Extension; Christmas Cactus FAQs; B. Rosie Lerner; December 2001
- University of Illinois Extension; Christmas Cactus Care; Sandra Mason; Dec. 10, 2001