Your Guide To: Christmas Cactus

Looking for tips on Christmas Cactus? Learn more about how to take care of this unique houseplant

Don't let the name of this plant fool you, the Christmas cactus is a holiday gift that you can enjoy year-round. It boasts vibrant pink or lilac blooms in the winter, and brings a deep green indoors during the spring and summer.

One benefit to owning this houseplant is that it is considered an easy to care for succulent. In this guide, we dive into Christmas cactus care, how to create the best environment for your Christmas cactus to thrive, and common issues.

How To Keep My Christmas Cactus Plant Happy

Anything but fussy, this plant does well with normal household temperatures and adapts well to lower light levels. Since it does come from a humid climate, it will thank you for a few mists throughout the week. Please note, you should not treat a Christmas cactus like a normal cactus or succulent. They cannot take the sunny, dry conditions other cacti can.

When to Water My Christmas Cactus

These cacti need watered more regularly than most succulents, but be cautious not to overwater. We recommend watering about every 2-3 weeks, when the top one third of the soil feels dry to the touch. To easily get the watering pattern down, pick up a plant moisture indicator. Watering should be done at the base of the plant, not over the green tendrils. Simply add water until it runs out the drainage hole. Remove any excess water from the drip tray after 30 minutes.

How Do I Feed My Christmas Cactus?

Plant food is an important part of fostering healthy growth as your Christmas cactus settles into its new digs. Insert the number of plant food spikes (included with your Greendigs plant purchase) indicated in the package directions into the soil once every month during spring and summer. You only need to feed your plant every two months during fall and winter.

How Do I Prune and Maintain My Christmas Cactus?

Prune Christmas cacti in late spring to encourage branching. The individual section of the branches are called phylloclades (or "pads"). Prune your Christmas cactus by pinching (or twisting) off 1-2 pads. New pads then form from the pinch point. Propagation from the Christmas cactus is one of the easiest of all plants - just place the cut pieces in lightly moist potting soil. Passing down a propagated plant from generation to generation could also be a great way to start a new family tradition. Cleaning your houseplants will keep them healthier for longer. Dust and dirt can block light and air, so giving your plant a gentle misting is beneficial so its saucer-shaped leaves can properly absorb the light. Also, rotate it a quarter-turn each time you water so it grows evenly.

How to Choose the Right Soil and Pot for My Christmas Cactus

When selecting a pot for your Christmas cactus, think drainage, drainage, and more drainage. This type of succulent grows well in a potting mix formulated for succulents like this one. This mix is made with sphagnum peat moss, sand, and perlite, so soil won't get compacted and the water will drain quickly. Don't be in a hurry to repot your Christmas cactus, as they love to be crowded, and crowded plants tend to grow more blooms. Once every 3-4 years is sufficient. Replant in spring after the plant is done blooming and new leaves are starting to grow

What is the Ideal Environment for My Christmas Cactus?

This cactus enjoys bright, indirect light which means near a sunny window but not right next to it where it may get scorched. In the summer, they love to be outside on patios protected from the harsh sun. It loves humidity (think bathroom) but will also do well in a normal room atop a table or mantle

How to Address Common Christmas Cactus Issues

Dropping flower buds - Christmas cactus will drop their flower buds when they are stressed. This can be from overwatering, exposure to extreme temperatures (like being placed near a vent or drafty window), or not enough light.

Mealybugs - The white, cottony pests can be removed using a toothpick or softbrush. You can also use a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol to remove mealybugs.

Root rot - Christmas cactus with root rot, caused by a soil fungus, can be difficult to save. If you catch the problem early, remove the plant from its pot, rinse the roots to remove the fungus, trim away any dead or rotted areas, and repot the plant in fresh potting mix in a clean pot with a drainage hole.

What to Do If You Still Have Questions

Our plant experts are here for you if you need advice about your Christmas cactus or buying plants online. With a vast array of plants for delivery, you'll be sure to find the right option to elevate your space. Visit our website, email at [email protected], or chat live with a Greendigs team member to get all of your growing questions answered.