Christmas cacti frequently suffer from a magnesium deficit, which manifests as drooping and foliage that is stained red or purple. It mainly happens in the wintertime when feeding and watering are restricted and nutrient uptake by the plant is slowed down by the chilly weather. Wintertime temperatures between 55 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit are ideal for the cactus. With Epsom salts, a magnesium deficit can be treated. 8 heaping tablespoons of Epsom salts should be dissolved in 2 1/2 liters of water together with 1–2 drops of dishwashing liquid. Spray the tops and undersides of the foliage with the mixture after pouring it into a spray bottle. Every two weeks, reapply the mixture to the foliage until it takes on its natural hue.
A Christmas cactus with a woody stem may not experience any problems at all; as these plants become older, the stems become more resembling wood.
Why are my cactus’s leaves turning red?
Cactus are tough plants that are used to harsh conditions. Your cactus may, however, start to become red if certain environmental stressors are present.
This is a symptom that something is wrong with your plant, yet it does not necessarily mean it is harmful. The good news is that you can restore your plant’s original color by altering its care and getting rid of the stressor.
When stressed by alterations in the environment, such as too much heat, too much sun, or a lack of water, cacti will turn red. In addition to these, pathogenic infections and root infections can also cause the color of your cactus to change to red.
The treatments offered will assist the plant in returning to its original color because the red signifies that the plant’s natural defense systems are in use.
Why are my Christmas cactus’ leaves becoming purple?
Your Christmas cactus leaves frequently have a purplish hue, which is typical. However, if it is conspicuously present throughout the leaves, it can indicate a problem with your plant. The following are the most typical causes of Christmas cacti’s leaves turning red or purple:
issues with nutrition
Your Christmas cactus may be deficient in essential nutrients if you don’t fertilize it frequently. From spring to mid-autumn, treat the plant every month with an all-purpose indoor plant fertilizer.
Additionally, since Christmas cacti require more magnesium than most plants, adding 1 teaspoon (5 mL) of Epsom salts to 1 gallon of water as a supplement to the plant’s diet usually works well. Throughout the spring and summer, apply the mixture once a month, but avoid using it the same week you apply conventional plant fertilizer.
Your Christmas cactus could not be properly receiving nutrients if its roots are bound. This is one potential explanation for the Christmas cactus’ reddish-purple leaves. Don’t repot your plant until it has been in the same container for at least two or three years, but keep in mind that Christmas cactus flourishes with dense roots.
Repotting Christmas cactus is best done in the spring if you find that it is rootbound. Transfer the plant to a container that is filled with a potting mix that drains well, such as ordinary potting soil blended with perlite or sand. The pot has to be one size bigger.
Christmas cactus needs bright light in the fall and winter, but excessive direct light in the summer may cause the leaves to become purple on the margins. It could be possible to avoid sunburn and fix the issue by moving the plant to a better place. Ensure that it is not near any open doors or drafty windows. In the same way, stay away from hot, dry locations like those near a fireplace or heating vent.
Why are my Christmas cactus’s leaves becoming pink?
Here are a few additional Christmas cactus issues that are not diseases. Usually, these issues can be resolved quickly by making a few environmental changes or taking better care of your Christmas cacti.
LIMP OR WILTING CHRISTMAS CACTUS
One of three problems could be the cause of your Christmas cactus’ withering or seeming limpness. If you leave the issue unattended, it can develop into root or stem rot, so you’ll want to recognize it and fix it right once.
The soil can be too dry, too moist, or too root-bound. Use the process of elimination to identify the issue after probing the soil with your finger to a depth of about one inch.
Solution: Let the soil dry if it is only slightly damp before watering it once again. In order to avoid root or stem rot, it is best to promptly remove the plant from wet soil and repot it in dry soil.
If after watering there is no change, the cactus may be highly root-bound. Holiday cacti do enjoy having their roots bound, but eventually this becomes too restrictive for them to remain healthy. Try repotting your plant into a new pot with a drainage hole that is one size larger and filled with cactus soil if it begins to grow but then wilts back within a few days or if it doesn’t grow after watering.
CHRISTMAS CACTUS LEAVES TURNING RED OR PINK
Your Christmas cactus may be receiving too much sun or not enough water if its leaves are turning red or pink.
Move your Christmas cactus back if it is right near to a window that receives direct sunlight during the day. Although they can tolerate some sun, they prefer indirect light. Additionally, check the soil; if it is dry to one inch below the surface, water it more frequently. Water the Christmas cactus when the soil feels dry to the touch.
CHRISTMAS CACTUS WON’T BLOOM
There could be a number of reasons why your Christmas cactus doesn’t bloom. The Christmas cactus like to be somewhat rootbound, prefers stable temperatures, wants to be left alone, and requires extended periods of darkness in the fall to begin its flowering cycle. If you’ve just brought a little plant home, be patient. The older a Christmas cactus gets, the more probable and lavishly it will bloom.
The following actions can help your Christmas cactus blossom in time for the holiday.
Midway through October, reduce watering and only water when the soil is dry to about an inch deep.
For 6-8 weeks, give it 12-14 hours of darkness at night and indirect light during the day.
Close the blinds at night if the room has windows. You can gently cover the plant with a dark cloth or bag if there is still a lot of ambient light present even with the blinds and curtains drawn. If you’re going to cover the plant with a blanket or sheet, make a frame around it or even set it between two kitchen chairs to prevent breaking.
Return to watering after the buds begin to open and the soil seems dry.
CHRISTMAS CACTUS DROPPING FLOWER BUDS
If the flower buds on your Christmas cactus develop but all fall off before the plant blooms, what will happen? In that circumstances, it might be brought on by abrupt changes in temperature, humidity, light, or overwatering or by being moved.
You’ll just need to be patient if you recently moved your Christmas cactus to a new location, home, or room. Because they dislike abrupt environmental changes and prefer solitude, it will ultimately produce fresh buds and blossoms once more.
Your cactus may lose its buds if it has received too much water. Before watering, let the soil dry if it’s wet. Repot it into barely moist cactus soil right away if the soil is waterlogged to prevent root rot. It might still lose its buds, but ultimately it should grow new ones.
Your Christmas cactus may have lost its buds if the humidity in your home changed unexpectedly (for example, if you just turned on the heating). This is because it needs higher humidity. You can either set your Christmas cactus on a pebble tray or run a humidifier in the space.
CHRISTMAS CACTUS PESTS
The same common houseplant pests that affect other houseplants can infest Christmas cacti. Isolate your plant and treat the infestation with your selected solution if you notice any signs of an infestation.
How can you tell if you’ve overwatered a Christmas cactus?
Any cactus that has been left to sit in a saucer of water is probably less healthy. The Christmas cactus plant will manifest clear signs of suffering if it is overwatered. To avoid moisture gnats and preserve the roots from decaying, you should always dump the extra water from the saucer if it hasn’t dried in a day.
One of the first signs of overwatering on a Christmas cactus are limp leaves that begin to fall off, just in case you forgot to do this. The stems and branches will thereafter become mushy and spongy. In severe situations, the stem can entirely rot off and the symptoms will include a bad smell.
Prevention is easy to do. To avoid overwatering Christmas cactus, use a soil moisture meter.
How should red Christmas cactus leaves be cared for?
Your Christmas cactus’ fresh colors are likely the result of something happening to the plant’s roots, more often than not. There are a few distinct issues that might impact the roots and colour the plant’s leaves crimson.
Some people may experience a root infection as the reason of their issue, while others may experience it as a result of the cactus being root-bound to its container.
There’s a significant likelihood that you have been overwatering your cactus if it has an infected root. Given how much water a typical cactus can hold, it is rather simple to overwater your cactus, making this kind of issue both common and manageable.
You need to do your hardest to get rid of the infection in order to fix this problem.
In order for the plant to start healing itself, you must first move it to a fresh bowl with brand-new soil. In the case of these cacti, you should wait two to three weeks before watering a plant with infected roots.
You can work on trimming away the plant’s damaged areas while you’re doing this. You will gradually resume watering your cactus on a regular basis so that it can recuperate and flourish once again.
When the Christmas cactus becomes rootbound, this is another common reason why the leaves become red. The phrase “rootbound” might not be entirely recognizable to you if you are new to gardening.
Essentially, it refers to a situation in which the roots have molded to fit the shape of the container they are in since they do not have enough room to spread out farther. The creation of all the advantageous qualities of owning a plant will be slowed down when this occurs since the roots will become crowded and tangled.
If you are not intending to plant the cactus in the ground, your first step in this situation should be to attempt and find a larger container for it. After that, you should strive to remove as much dirt as you can while still keeping the root.
It will be simpler for those roots to take hold and begin to flourish once more as a result. After accomplishing this, you can return the plant to its preferred environment.
The Christmas cactus needs watering, but how often?
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.