How To Get The Best From Your Christmas Cactus

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Beautiful!

Blooming Christmas Cactus: Beautiful!

Soil: Does well in almost any good garden soil. Needs no feeding except when buds begin to set.

Water: Avoid overwatering. It needs to be gently pushed into dormancy at the beginning of November to ensure holiday blooms, allow the plant to dry out between light waterings during this time. Keep soil lightly moist during blooming.

Pests: Almost immune. Yellow leaves and flower buds dropping off may be caused by too much water.

Heat: Moderate to cool. Keep away from heat sources when trying to trigger it’s dormant period.

Light: In the Fall encourage bud development by placing it in a room where it will be in complete darkness at least 12 hours a night (up to 14 hours). When buds show, place in a location where it gets sun part of the day.

Propagation: Take cuttings in Spring, at place where aerial roots have come out. Let cuttings lie for a few days to callous over, then pot in ordinary soil.

Notes: Set pot outdoors in summer and forget about it. Bring it in before frost, withhold water for about six weeks, then begin to water about time to produce buds for holiday bloom.

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Published: November 9, 2009
Updated: December 19, 2011

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20 Comments to “How To Get The Best From Your Christmas Cactus”
  1. Helen says:

    Christmas cactus CAN be grown in water! I grew one that way for over 10 years on my west facing kitchen window sill. When I moved 3500 km interstate 7 years ago I couldn’t bring it with me and gave it to a neighbour. When I visited her earlier this year it was still growing AND flowering.

    • Sharon says:

      I removed the petal where the flower had died,and now,the new leaf is coming in in a red color. Have you experienced that?

      • Roselyn McDonagh says:

        Yes my ziger all went red. I put lots of liquid fertilizer on the pot and after a little while green shoots appeared and now it is almost back to normal. So keep trying. These plants are very hardy.

    • Carol Monroe says:

      My friend gave me a Christmas cactus and it’s now in a mason jar, will it die like that or will it survive long enough to grow roots or can it survive in the jar of water?? Will it grow roots in the water this is my first Christmas cactus :O

      • Nana says:

        As long as it is wet it will grow roots. Mine gets broken by kids and pets sometimes and I just put the broken off piece in a jar in my kitchen window. When I have enough rooted to start a new plant, I just plant them in a good potting soil. They grow best in an East facing window – 2nd best in a South facing window, but will do fine as long as they get some light! Rotate your new plant so it grows full.

  2. Joalice Maloney says:

    I left my plant outside in the summer and the rains almost drown it.

  3. Nancy Engel says:

    I put my house plants outside for the summer. When I went away for a week all of the plants survived fine except the Christmas cactus, the squirrels dumped it over and ate most of it, so beware if you have these rodents.

  4. Claire says:

    I have two of these cacti, one had pink flowers last year, one had white.

    This year though, I had no flowers at all on either one :(

  5. Kate says:

    I’ve had two real problems with mine:

    1) Spider Mites, I seriously thought succulents could not get those. I only noticed when it started dropping leaves and whole segments.

    2) Too much sun caused the leaves to turn red and suffer. With proper lighting for the variety the leaves will be a gorgeous green.

  6. sharon shaffer says:

    how do you grow a christmas cactus in water? I thought they were not to be over watered. I have one a neighbor that started one for me from pieces from her plant, but pieces keep falling off & are mushy thank you for any input

  7. Marla says:

    How do I repot one that is 15 yrs old and is cascading 3 ft? Thanks

    • Carmella says:

      My mom has one that is 50 years old!! It is huge!!! I took it to a local nursery and let the profecionals repot it. It is beautiful!! I didnt want to chance killing it.

  8. Sandy says:

    I bought a cactus at Wal-mart. It didn’t do well at all for 2 years. Then I put it in a south window with my violets. When I water the violets I always use Violet Food. When I have left over violet water I put it on my cactus. It had one flower on it and that fell off. Since I started putting the violet water on it, it has tripled in size, all sections sprouted new leaves. Now in the last couple of week there are buds on every section, some of them have two. I can’t wait until they open, it’s going to be gorgeous. I didn’t know that there are Thanksgiving Cactus and Christmas. I think mine is a Thanksgiving one. It will be in full bloom before Thanksgiving.

  9. Anne says:

    Does a Christmas cactus need to be root bound to bloom?

  10. Lou says:

    I have a small cactus. It is potted in a large soup cup. Because I live in an apt. and have a North exposure, it wasn’t doing too well. It’s kind of wilty.( I took a cutting off a huge old cactus at least a year ago). The parent cactus is huge. It gets diffused south light. For a while I had the potted cutting under a grow light in the kitchen, but still, nothing. Does anyone know what I can do to revive this cactus?

  11. Neela says:

    I was given a xmas cactus in May 2012…it came looking great with alot of bright red flowers…but now it’s a mess..a total mess. It’s droopy and no flowers for a long time. The green segments are falling off also.
    This plant means alot to me cause of who sent it and why so I want it to live….but I don’t have a green thumb and seem to kill every plant tho I do really enjoy having them. I’m in an apt with no sunlight…I’m scrunged in a courtyard bldg with no light…..help please.
    Oh, once and a while I use the blue sticks for feeding but even that doesn’t help and I bought cactus soil but even THAT doesn’t do anything positive for my plant….that’s dying fast.

  12. Nana says:

    I have a Christmas cactus that is connected to my family thru 7 generations. It always blooms for Christmas and loses it’s last blossom on or very near Easter. I have one ready now to give my Granddaughter who just moved into her first house. She has perfect windows so I know it will be happy. Then I will start another from my ‘mother’ plant for my Grandson who is now 12. It will be a perfect, mature size for him when he is ready for it. My Christmas Cactus is a very sacred part of my life.

    • Nana says:

      P.S. When I inherited the Grandmother plant, it was over 100 years old. Stems all crusty and it was so “old”. I had it repotted and it died. Thank God My Grandmother had already given us all our own cactus and my mother had the new “mother” plant – it was about 75 years old and I have it now… will probably never repot it!

  13. Ron says:

    While visiting a local hospital, i saw ice in the pot of a Christmas Cactus. Is this a good way to water? How often?

  14. pendesk8 says:

    I have a Christmas cactus that was my Grandmothers who has been deceased for almost 30 years.The cactus is about 60 years old.They are very hardy ,just remember the word cactus,not too much water.


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