How To Take Care Of Christmas Cactus Plant Indoors

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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.

How much light is required for a Christmas cactus?

Thanksgiving cactus, holiday cactus, and crab cactus are all names for the Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera truncata). The leaf-shaped stem segments with curled, pointy teeth or claws around the margins are known as crabs. The leaf segments of the Easter cactus (Schlumbergera buckleyi) have rounded edges. They all came from wet, dark forests around the southeast coast of Brazil. Because they reside above ground in trees, where branches meet and decaying leaves and moss amass, they are categorized as epiphytes.

Although this plant has the moniker “cactus,” the maintenance it needs has nothing to do with its relatives in the desert. It is regarded as a type of woodland cactus. Its needs can be traced back to its beginnings. It is recommended for Christmas cactus to grow in “Potty trained That entails storing it in a small container for as long as possible before transferring it to a pot that is only marginally larger. They should not be allowed to dry out and like a thick organic potting mix. When the plant is blossoming, increase the watering. They favor direct, bright light. As the plants start to burn in full light, the leaf segments might turn a dark red color.

The “The two factors of light and temperature are the key to getting Christmas cacti to bloom in the years after purchase. These two hold the secret to the realm of flowers. Flowers are produced by Christmas cacti during a chilly, brief day cycle. It takes at least eight days of 16 hours of darkness and 8 hours of light every day for flower buds to begin to form. No matter where the plant is located, avoid using the lights at night, even for a little time. That ends the necessary dark cycle. Around 61 degrees should be the ambient temperature. Place the plant away from drafts of either cold or hot air.

All that is required is to set the Christmas cactus on the window sill in a chilly area without turning on the lights. In a brightly lit space, a plant’s side towards the window will frequently sprout buds, but not the other way around. It usually has to do with either receiving too much or not enough water or with there being insufficient humidity in the air if the plant sets flower buds and then they fall off. The good news is that if their temperature and light needs are met, Christmas cacti are thought to be rather simple to induce to bloom once more.

Can Christmas cactus be kept indoors?

Christmas cacti require direct, strong sunlight. If you’re placing yours indoors near a west or south-facing window, make sure the light is shaded with a sheer curtain because they will burn in direct sunlight. If your home is dry inside in the winter, put it on a tray of stones or put it close to other plants because they need humidity.

Never let them sit in water; only add water when the top feels dry. Christmas cacti prefer temperatures between 65 and 70 degrees during the day and 55 to 65 degrees at night.

How is a Christmas cactus maintained in good health?

Maintain a comfortable temperature of 65 degrees. Watering: Mist your plant frequently when it is in bloom to keep the soil equally moist. Light: For moderate light and some direct sunlight, place the cactus in an east-facing window. Once buds start to grow, fertilize every two weeks with a high-potassium fertilizer.

Where should my Christmas cactus be placed?

Holiday cacti may be bought pretty much anywhere that sells plants, from the grocery store to the flower shop, and are incredibly popular gifts during the winter and spring. Holiday cactus are attractive and attract both seasoned and newcomer houseplant aficionados with their succulent foliage and colorful, multicolored blossoms. They frequently pass down from one family to the next and, given adequate care, can live for many years.

Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera x buckleyi), Thanksgiving cactus (Schlumbergera truncata), and Easter cactus (Rhipsalidopsis gaertneri) are three separate varieties that are commonly offered at retail outlets depending on the season “All of them are frequently referred to as Christmas cacti. Due of their comparable maintenance requirements, it is simpler to refer to all three as holiday cacti.

Despite “Holiday cacti require very different maintenance than their desert-dwelling siblings because it’s in their name. Holiday cactus are epiphytes that naturally grow in the shaded limbs of trees in Brazil’s tropical rainforests. Epiphytes are plants that grow on other plants rather than in the ground and obtain their nutrients and moisture from the rain and the atmosphere.

As a result, unlike other cacti, holiday cactus are less tolerant to prolonged drought. Once the potting soil seems dry to the touch, they should be watered, allowing extra water to freely drain from the bottom of the container. Do not allow plants to sit in standing water as this can cause the soil to become flooded. Root rot can develop as a result of ongoing exposure to excessively moist soil, particularly during the winter.

Holiday cacti’s watering requirements vary depending on a variety of elements, including the type of potting soil used, the size of the container, the amount of sunlight the plant receives, and the temperature outside. Making ensuring the plant is in the proper area and only watering when the soil mixture is dry are the keys to maintaining a healthy plant.

Holiday cacti thrive in partial shade, such as an east or west facing window, with temperatures between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Lack of light can limit growth and make the soil mix dry too slowly, while too much harsh sunlight, especially in the summer, can burn the foliage. When in doubt, it is better to water your plants too much than too little.

Should my Christmas cactus be misted?

Contrary to what its name might imply, Christmas cacti can survive well into the following year. In fact, with a little care and our guidance, they can live for up to 20 years.

Christmas Cacti need cooler temperatures.

Leaving Christmas cacti in a space that is between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit will cause them to bloom more fully and sooner. Keep them away from radiators, fireplaces, and warm windowsills, especially during the winter.

While they don’t need the heat of the sun, they do need its light.

The hard part comes at this point. A Christmas cactus needs lots of sunlight but cannot be kept in direct sunlight as it will dry out. So what should a cactus aficionado do? Your best bet is to leave it in a partially shaded area of your house (or outside, once summer hits) and rotate it every once in awhile.

Just like you and I, Christmas cacti need their rest.

Your cactus needs between 1215 hours of uninterrupted darkness per day if its buds haven’t yet set. Cacti only require lots of light once their buds have fully developed.

You should be misting, not watering, every day.

Your cactus will die if you overwater it. But that doesn’t mean they never experience thirst. You should mist your cactus every day rather than watering it like you would a regular plant. You only need a few sprays from a spray bottle to maintain your cactus’ happiness. Only when the soil at the base of the plant feels entirely dry to the touch should you water it.

Christmas cacti need nutrient-rich soil.

Christmas cacti are strong plants that can endure harsher environments, although well-drained soil that has some organic matter is preferable for them. While organic soil is always available to purchase, you can also use your cacti as a little compost and add organic waste that you would typically discard.

Are Christmas cacti fond of restrooms?

These Schulumbergea species are unique to a very tiny area on Brazil’s southeast coast. They develop in a number of coastal mountain ranges that are strongly influenced by the Atlantic Ocean’s proximity. Warm air from the shore is forced up into the mountains, where it hits cooler air at an altitude, causing condensation that keeps the environment very wet all year long. This results in the high altitude moist forests. The chilly, rainy weather is similar to that of the nearby Pacific Coast, where marine influence is constant.

These soft cacti are actually quasi-epiphytic, which implies that they are neither true air plants nor terrestrial like other cacti. They ask for conditions akin to those that orchids in damp lowlands find in the crotches of trees and crevices of branches. In the wild, the cactus prefers to grow on any surface where decomposing organic matter gathers beneath heavy coverings of fluffy moss. They frequently erupt from cliffs’ rock crevices, rooted firmly in the fissures where organic debris builds up and storing both nourishment and year-round moisture.

Christmas cacti require complete drainage, just as desert cacti, but they also require moisture. Getting this right can be challenging if you’re not careful. Organic matter dries up quickly in conditions of very low humidity. This explains why it’s really difficult to maintain Christmas cacti, and why they don’t grow as big as they do in moisture-controlled greenhouses. Any plant you purchase was produced and multiplied in such settings through commercial breeding.

The huge tubular flowers on this cactus, which open indoors during the short, gloomy winter days, are prized in colder areas. The flowers are designed for hummingbird pollination and are rich in nectar. Hummers will come to feed on sunny winter days if you use a larger plant as a patio table centerpiece when decorating for the holidays. These covered patios are perfect for limiting our strong UV exposure that can harm foliage and shorten life span because this cactus prefers filtered shade. Purchase hanging specimens to grow both inside and outside over the Christmas season.

The segmented structure of both the Christmas cactus and our wicked cholla is another similarity. This asexual reproduction technique results in segments breaking off when a bird lands on them or when there is a strong breeze. Segments separate, fall to new places, and take root there, demonstrating how simple it is to propagate plants at home. Simply cut off a few pieces, allow the incision to heal by hardening off for a day or two in the shade, and then place them into moistened dune sand. Roots grow rapidly.

The four basic species that make up the modern Christmas cactus were crossed, and then their hybrids were crossed again to produce flowers with more color and size. Christmas cacti, as opposed to Easter cacti, are members of the Buckleyi group, descended from Schlumbergia russelliana, which may be recognized by its pink pollen-coated downward-facing flowers.

Knowing these plants’ habitats makes it simple to determine what they require in order to thrive. It’s challenging, but it is possible if you are careful to spritz your plans with bottled water rather than our mineral-rich tap water, which leaves a white film on the leaves. Move them indoors beneath a bathroom skylight once the blooming has stopped since they enjoy the steam from the shower. Make sure drainage is open and simple, but water frequently to maintain the “soil” evenly moist. Avoid letting water collect in a saucer or cachepot.

If you’ve tried growing Christmas cactus in the past without success, you now understand why. It’s just a tropical humidity-loving rainforest cactus that was thrown into a scorchingly dry desert by the sun.

No matter how hard you try, your Christmas cactus will definitely die. Not you specifically, but our environment is to blame for these lovely blossoming plants ending up in the January trash. Despite being real cactus, they don’t resemble our desert species very well.