The best time to repot most plants is in the spring when they start to show new growth, but Christmas cacti should be potted after blooming is finished and the blooms have faded, which is in late winter or early spring. It is never a good idea to try to repot the plant when it is in full bloom.
Repotting Christmas cactus should be delayed because this tough succulent thrives when its roots are little congested. Frequently repotting a plant might harm it.
Repotting Christmas cactus is typically sufficient every three to four years, but you might wish to hold off until the plant starts to appear worn out or you see some roots poking through the drainage hole. A plant can frequently flourish happily in the same pot for years.
Can I repot a cactus that is in bloom?
Today, we’ll talk about another aspect of caring for cacti. In this article, we’ll discuss how to repot or transplant a tiny, tall, or huge cactus and share our insider knowledge and advice. We’ll also go over when to repot your cactus and how to do it safely so you don’t get stabbed or harmed. Then we’ll cover how to take care of cacti after repotting them.
Should I repot my cactus and how often should I do it?
Yes, you must repot new cacti every year and adult plants every two years. Because cacti grow and eventually require additional space and new growing material, repotting or transplanting them is crucial.
Growing cacti will require additional room because their roots will spread out inside the soil mixture. By inspecting the rootball at the pot’s base, you can make sure (which should have drainage holes). You should repot your cactus as soon as possible if any roots are showing.
The same holds true if you remove the cactus from its pot and can see its roots wrapping around the root ball. Repotting also typically “wakes up” your cactus and promotes healthy growth.
What is the best time to repot a cactus?
The conclusion of the dormant season is the ideal time to repot cacti. Your cactus will experience less stress as a result. For many plants, the dormant time will vary. However, the majority of cacti that are found in regions with harsh winters are compelled to hibernate from November until the end of February.
General important tips for repotting cacti:
- Before or after transplanting your cacti, avoid watering them. So that roots can continue to grow, let the soil dry. Additionally, you should hold off on watering your cactus for seven to ten days after repotting. This is crucial since handling the plant could harm the roots, and any contact with water could kill the plant.
- Since certain cacti have extremely pointed spines, additional protection is required when repotting them. This can be a spare glove, newspaper, or piece of cloth.
- When repotting cacti, you must safeguard your hands. Several cactus will have longer, sharper spines, so be extra cautious! These nitrile coated gloves, which function far better than leather gloves since they are thicker, are the ideal tools for defending your hands from spiky cacti. Wear two sets of gloves or get gloves with double coating if you have a cactus with sharp spikes.
How to repot your cactusstep by step overview
- Prepare the materials and the area before you start repotting your cactus. Have ready-mixed soil, a plastic container for handling root balls, a brush, nitrile gloves, a wooden stick, some folded newspaper, and shears with micro-tips or scissors on hand as well.
- Select a container for your cactus. A pot should be larger than the one before it and cleaned and sanitized. Avoid choosing a pot that is too big since cactus want a snug fit. When choosing a pot, make sure it isn’t too deep and that it is at least 1-2 inches wider than your cactus. However, there should be enough room for the roots of the cacti to sit comfortably in the pot. Pick the same-sized container and repot your cactus if it has extremely weak roots and hasn’t been growing steadily. This will encourage growth. Add bone meal, egg shells, or time-release fertilizer to the soil. Read more about selecting a container here.
- Add charcoal and some rocks or gravel to the pot you’ll be using. This will facilitate drainage and stop soil from escaping drainage holes. Add some fresh soil mixture on top before planting your cactus.
- Remove your cactus from the pot (we’ll go over how to do it in a moment) and clean the roots of any old soil. If the old soil is difficult to remove, soak it.
When should a Christmas cactus be repotted?
The Christmas cactus needs to be replanted when its flowering period is through, but Keira Kay, a plant expert with Bloom & Wild (opens in new tab), advises against rushing the procedure.
The plant should be repotted as soon as it stops blooming and the flowers start to wilt, which is usually in late winter or early spring, according to the expert.
“However, this plant is happy to get rather compact, so you needn’t rush to re-pot a Christmas cactus; if you don’t see roots crawling out the container or drainage holes, you may wait off repotting,” the author writes.
When it blooms, should I fertilize my Christmas cactus?
Make sure you have a decent location for the plant to grow because, to begin with, the plants do best in indirect sunshine and well-drained soil. The Christmas cactus has a feeding and growing season that coincide. This indicates that it will require feeding just before it blooms, which should occur between April and October of the current year. Just in time for Christmas, with the right fertilizer and a regular feeding schedule, you ought to have vibrant blossoms.
These plants will bloom during the shorter, cooler days of the fall since they require 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness to develop. For the greatest results when fertilizing this plant, choose a bloom formula or a water-soluble formula. To assist the flowers blossom more beautifully in the middle to late summer, fertilize once a month with a high-phosphorus fertilizer.
It’s crucial to make sure you cease feeding the plant after it stops growing, which will happen late in the summer. The salt can accumulate in the bud and prevent it from flowering if you keep feeding the plant even when it is not actively growing. Never fertilize a Christmas cactus when it starts to bloom since this could make the buds fall off.
What should I do with a blooming Christmas cactus?
Christmas is typically not a time when desert-dwelling flora are highlighted because the holiday generally honors brisk pine tree forests, chilly temperatures, and snowfall. The Christmas Cactus is an exception, though, as it is indigenous to Brazil’s rainforests. It’s difficult to miss this plant during the season with its long flat stems and beautifully colored flowers. The Christmas Cactus will offer you tons of flowers in pinks, reds, purples, and white while it’s tough to get your other cactus to bloom. Possibly not always the colors of the season, but nonetheless lovely.
Perhaps you saw one at the florist or your neighbor decided to give you a Christmas Cactus as a gift in appreciation for your assistance in setting up the lights (well done!). You’re unsure of what to do with it as it sits in your living room, however it got there. You could be a little confused by the fact that it’s a cactus because they are frequently associated with moodiness around water. But unlike its relatives, this cactus is not terrified of water and has very few sharp parts, so it won’t bite. Discover how to take care of your Christmas cactus by reading on.
No life jacket requiredWatering your Christmas Cactus
The Christmas Cactus adores the water, contrary to what you might be used to (swimming, water polo, and perhaps even a little skinny dipping!) It prefers to have regular waterings that thoroughly wet the soil. Despite the fact that you should let the soil dry up a little bit in between your planned waterings, you should never let it become fully dry. This may impede the growth of your plant and lead it to lose all of the carefully tended flowers!
Warm hugsDon’t give your cacti the cold shoulder
The ideal temperature range for your Christmas Cactus should be between 15 and 21 degrees Celsius, despite the fact that hugging cacti is generally not advised. Like any warm-blooded plant, try to keep it away from drafts and vents. For these guys, a constant temperature is optimal. Although bright light is preferred, excessive amounts of direct sunlight can burn the stems.
A life after ChristmasWhat to do with your Christmas Cactus after the season
Deadhead all the wasted blooms to keep your cacti looking their best during and after the Christmas season. Additionally, this stimulates the plant to keep on blooming. You can continue to enjoy your cacti after Christmas until it eventually stops blooming. But once it does, don’t get rid of it! Whether or not they bloom, these cacti make stunning houseplants. And chances are it will bloom for you once more the following year, and occasionally even in the middle of the year. (Bonus!)
You can prune it at the start of the summer by cutting back a few of the stems’ lankier portions. Similar to getting a haircut, this fosters further growth and allows it to blossom once more.
Whether or not it is the holiday season, your Christmas Cactus will stand out from the rest of your houseplants thanks to its tall stalks and vivid blossoms! Enjoy its distinctive design in your house.
When it’s blooming, do you water the Christmas cactus?
Christmas cacti are highly common indoor plants, and for good reason too! They produce vibrant, tubular flowers that are pink or purple in hue when they bloom. They are a superb plant because of their lovely blossoms, lengthy bloom period, and simple maintenance needs. Someone in your family most likely owns a Christmas cactus!
About Christmas Cacti
The Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera x buckleyi) and its cousins don’t exist in hot, arid conditions like deserts or plains, in contrast to other cacti. These epiphytic succulents, which grow on tree branches and take in the high humidity, dappled sunlight, and moderate temperatures, are actually endemic to the tropical rainforests of southern Brazil.
Bottom line: Don’t handle a Christmas cactus like a typical succulent or cactus. They are unable to withstand the same kind of hot, dry weather that other cactus can. These cacti require more frequent watering than most succulents, but you also need to be careful not to overwater them. (See the care guidelines in more detail below.)
Thanksgiving, Easter, or Christmas Cactus?
The Easter cactus (S. gaertneri), Thanksgiving cactus (S. truncata), and Christmas cactus are the three main varieties of “holiday cacti” that are available (S. x buckleyi). The holiday that each cactus is named after often sees the most blooming. Thanksgiving cacti, which often bloom from November to February and hence go unrecognized as Christmas cacti, make up the majority of “Christmas cacti” sold nowadays. See our post on the several Christmas cacti species and how to distinguish them for more information.
Note: Because it’s the most widely used term and it applies to all three of these species, we’ll refer to all three of them on this page as “Christmas cactus” for simplicity’s sake.
Potting Christmas Cacti
- Choose a pot with a drainage hole on the bottom if you’re choosing one for a Christmas cactus. This prevents the soil from getting overly saturated.
- Most succulent-specific potting mixtures work well for Christmas cacti growth. It’s crucial that your potting soil drains properly.
Where to Put a Christmas Cactus
- Plants should be kept in indirect light that is bright. The best location has an east-facing window or a well-lit bathroom. The delicate leaves might be bleached by too much direct sunshine.
- It is preferable to have a daytime temperature of 70F (21C) and an evening temperature of 60–65F (15–18C).
- Christmas cacti do well in a more humid climate, so keeping them in a well-lit bathroom or kitchen is a smart idea.
- Christmas cacti can be kept in a shady area of the garden or on an unheated porch during the summer until the temperature drops below 50F. (10C). Keep them away from the sun’s rays outside.
How to Care for Christmas Cacti
- Water your plants every two to three weeks, but only when the top third of the soil feels dry to the touch. If the plant is in 6 inches of soil, for instance, water when the top 2 inches of soil feel dry. (Check with your finger!)
- When the soil is completely dry, wet it until water seeps through the drainage holes in the pot. To collect the water, put a tray underneath the pot. To prevent the pot from sitting in water, remove any extra water on the tray after 10 to 15 minutes.
- While the plant is in bloom, it’s very crucial to water thoroughly.
- Feed your indoor plants with a balanced houseplant fertilizer every two weeks from spring through early fall. Feed the cactus once a month in the fall and winter to promote fruitful blooming.
- To promote branching and more flowers, prune plants in the late spring. Simply cut a portion of each stem off; the plant will grow new branches from the incision.
- If desired, plant the cut pieces in potting soil that is only gently damp; they will easily root after a few weeks and make wonderful Christmas gifts!
How to Get Your Christmas Cactus to Bloom
The longer evenings and chilly weather of fall are what cause Christmas cacti and its relatives to bloom. The three major varieties of holiday cacti typically bloom on the following schedule:
- Thanksgiving cactus typically produce flowers from late October through mid-winter, making them the earliest and longest bloomers.
- Christmas cacti often bloom in the early to midwinter months.
- Easter cacti flower around the middle of spring through late winter.
If your cactus isn’t flowering, it can be getting too much light or being exposed to too much heat. Here are some suggestions to help you get blooms from yours!
- For a minimum of six weeks, the nights must be at least 14 hours long and the days between 8 and 10 hours. You might need to cover your cactus or relocate it to an area that is exposed to the natural light cycle if you have powerful interior lighting that is on at night.
- When the plant is kept at temps between 50 and 60F, flower buds form best (10 and 15C).
- By subjecting the plant to temps around 45F (7C) for a number of nights in a succession, you can jumpstart the budding process.
- While the plant is in bloom, be sure to water it consistently. The plant may lose its buds if it dries out too much.
- Don’t worry if the cactus loses its buds one winter; the following year it should bloom.
The three primary varieties of “holiday cacti” are as follows:
- Often mistaken for Christmas cacti, Thanksgiving cacti (Schlumbergera truncata) bloom from late October to mid-winter.
- Christmas cacti (S. x buckleyi) flower in the early to midwinter months.
- Late winter to mid-spring is the blooming period for Easter cacti (S. gaertneri).
- Make sure to water your Christmas cactus frequently and keep it cool when the buds on the plant appear ready to open.
- The optimum time to propagate cuttings is late spring when most holiday cacti start to grow after their winter hibernation.
Blossom loss: Your Christmas cactus will probably lose its blossoms if it experiences any kind of stress. As mentioned in the plant care section above, this could be caused by the amount of light or a sudden shift in temperature. Make sure your soil doesn’t become overly dry while buds are developing.
The plant could be vulnerable to mealy bugs and root rot if overwatered. If you experience issues, remove the affected sections and repot the plant in fresh soil.