Why Do Christmas Cactus Flowers Change Color

Did you know that Christmas Cactus make hardy houseplants? Christmas Cactus are frequently sold throughout the holiday season. Both indoors and outdoors, I find them to be incredibly simple to grow, and mine always bloom once a year, typically twice.

They are absolutely fantastic, but like any plants, they can have faults and problems. I decided to write this piece because the leaves on my client’s Christmas cactus had turned orange. It seemed like too fantastic of a chance to miss.

Let’s get a little more technical for those of you who are plant nerds like me. Thanksgiving (or crab) cactus is what you are seeing here and in the video instead of Christmas cactus. It was marked as a CC when I purchased it, and that is how it is frequently offered for sale in the trade.

These days, they might be identified as Holiday Cactus. Any of them could experience this, no matter which one you have.

This plant is turning a deep bronze from its too orange state. The leaves are scraggly and sagging.

When under stress from the environment or culture, plants change hue. This one changed to a deep orange/brown/bronze color—the exact shade is up for debate! mostly as a result of water shortage. It has occasionally gotten a little too much sun. Dehydration is evident in the leaves’ thinness and wrinkles, which can be seen if you look closely at them.

At least six years ago, I purchased this Holiday Cactus at the Santa Barbara Farmer’s Market. It was a piece of the Christmas dish garden I created for my client’s front porch table. She resides on the coast approximately a quarter mile from the Pacific, one and a half hours south of San Francisco. This plant has managed to live despite the other plants having long since moved to the compost pail. Oh, and did I mention how tough Christmas cacti are? This is evidence!

Unlike the desert cactus that Tucson is covered in, these succulents are epiphytic cacti. Christmas Cacti grow on other plants and rocks, not in the soil, in their native rainforest habitats. They are shielded from full, direct sunlight by the canopies of trees and plants, and they flourish in this environment.

Changing Color

Christmas Cactus can become orange, brown, or golden when exposed to much sunlight because they prefer shade from it. Yellow leaves may also be an indication of excessive sunlight or moisture. In Santa Barbara, my Thanksgiving Cactus was an outside plant that turned burgundy or purple in the winter as a response to the chilly weather.

Early in December, the Thanksgiving Cactus was lying on its side on the opposite end of the front porch when I first went to my client’s house. She is close to the Pacific, so at least some moisture is provided by the fog where she resides. That, in my opinion, is what has kept it going.

Can a Christmas cactus produce several color blooms?

Holiday cacti come in several colors, including red, white, yellow, orange, pink, and purple. The various color variations are described here.


The contrast of the red and green makes for a dazzling effect that is ideal for the holiday season. A particularly lovely plant with purple buds that bloom crimson and white is the “Dark Marie plant.” Similar to the “Kris Kringle plant,” which has real red blossoms, it blooms early. In contrast to the others, Kris Kringle becomes more erect. Thor Carmen plants have a robust root system, develop quickly, and bloom later.

Yellow and White

The petals of these flowers could contain hints of various hues, like gold. The “White flowers with pink filaments and pink centers can be found on Thor Britt. The “White Christmas features creamy white flowers that are tiny. The “Christmas Gold features purple buds, and when it blooms, the flowers are gold and with dark purple stamens and blush centers. Next, the “Large gold blossoms may be found on the yellow variant Gold Charm. Comparatively speaking, it grows more quickly than the other plants.


The color orange is ideal for autumn, and fortunately, a variety of oranges blossom between October and November. Purple buds on the “Malindi cactus develop into vibrant orange flowers. The “Xmas Fantasy” is more pink in color with purple undertones. Purple also adorns the stamens. Similar to “Malindi, the “Madslome plant has a creamy white core and a somewhat darker blossom. The “Peach Parfait,” which blooms a bit later in the season, is another plant to take into account. The peach- or orange-colored flowers feature purple stamens.

Purple and Pink

The majority of Christmas cacti variations come in pink and purple colors, with shades ranging from the palest shade of pink to the deepest, darkest purple. The variety “Nicole” has lavender blooms with creamy white centers that bloom late in the season. And finally, there is “Thor Rit,” a trailing cultivar that thrives in a hanging container. Large and vibrant pink blossoms cover the plant. The “Dark Eva plant” blooms quickly. The flowers are white with a lovely lavender tip, and the buds are a deep purple color. Then “Thor Tina” is similar to “Thor Rit in that it trails, but it blooms later and has pink blossoms instead.

What is causing the mild greening of my Christmas cactus?

What is associated with watering? adequate drainage. The pot’s roots may get soggy and unable to absorb nutrients if moisture collects at the bottom of the container.

As a result, the roots may rot and produce more withering and discoloration from fungal infection. This can cause stem segments to wilt and turn pale green to yellow.

Make sure your container has at least one drainage hole on the bottom to prevent drainage problems.

Fine gravel, pumice, or sand should be included in the potting media to encourage root aeration and drainage.

You may go one step further and place a layer of stones at the bottom of the container to help prevent water from gathering, which can cause rotting.

When watering, avoid placing the pot in a dish of water that prevents airflow from the drainage hole.

Make sure the water level in the pan is no higher than the gravel if you need to place your tropical plants on a pan of wet gravel to maintain ambient moisture in a dry house. This will allow air to reach the drainage holes of the containers.

Why is the purple color on my Christmas cactus fading?

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.

dense roots

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 is the pinking of my white Christmas cactus?

By restricting the amount of oxygen that roots can absorb and by weakening their tissue, overwatering harms them. Overwatering frequently results in root rot. Mushy tissue, wilting, and pink or reddish discolorations on the leaves are characteristics of Christmas cactus. An unpleasant odor in the soil is another indicator of root rot. A damaged plant needs to be replanted in new, unused medium and let to dry out for two to three weeks. Trim away the severely harmed leaves and gradually bring the plant back to its regular watering schedule by allowing the top inch of soil to become dry in between waterings. Pruning blades should be cleaned with rubbing alcohol before and after use to disinfect them.

When should you put a Christmas cactus in the dark?

Put your Christmas cactus in complete darkness for at least 12 hours every day, beginning in October, to start blooming. In time for the holidays, the plant will have around eight weeks to develop buds and blossom as a result. To encourage your Christmas cactus to bloom again in February after the holiday flowering time, keep up this same pattern.

How long can a Christmas cactus live?

Christmas cacti can survive up to 100 years or longer if given the right care. Even news stories of families passing on their Christmas cacti to future generations as living heirlooms have been documented, such as this one about a particularly resilient plant that dates back to the 1860s. Wow!

The majority of Christmas cacti, however, only live for 20 to 30 years with proper care, despite the fact that they can last for decades and brighten your home every holiday season. By that time, the plants typically perish from widespread problems including overwatering, underwatering, freezing weather (if they spend part of the year outside), pests, illnesses, loss of interest, or simple neglect.

Help, my Christmas cactus is yellowing!

Yikes! Your watering routine is typically to blame if your Christmas cactus doesn’t seem to be growing well. These creatures require more water than desert cacti, but they also don’t want their soil to be wet.

You’re probably not watering your Christmas cactus enough if the leaves are becoming wrinkled and appear withered. You possibly overdid it if they’re more mushy and yellow-black in color. To get rid of any rotten roots and repot your plant in dry soil, you might need to uproot it.

Why are the leaves on my Christmas cactus limp?

Wilted leaves are frequently caused by improper watering because it is simple to provide too much water (rather than not enough). A Christmas cactus’ weak or drooping leaves are typically the result of either damp soil or root rot. If you have one issue, it will almost certainly lead to another.

Make sure that any extra water you give your Christmas cactus drains slowly but steadily through the drainage holes. If not, your potting soil may be too dense and may not be working. To promote aeration, you can repot the plant in bromeliad soil or fluff it up with perlite.

During the spring through winter growing season, keep the soil lightly moist; only water when the top inch of soil feels dry to the touch. After the flowering season is over, it’s good to allow the soil get a little bit dry in the middle of winter between waterings, but don’t let it get completely parched.

Is a Christmas cactus toxic to cats and dogs?

I’ll keep this short: no. The ASPCA states that Christmas cacti are not dangerous, despite the fact that ingesting any plant may cause some mild vomiting or diarrhea.

Why is the yellow on my Christmas cactus?

Consider the following scenarios if you see yellowing on your Christmas cactus leaves:

It may be time to repot the Christmas cactus if the container is overstuffed with roots. Change the Christmas cactus to a larger pot. A well-draining combination, such as two parts potting mix and one part coarse sand or perlite, should be used to fill the container. After repotting a Christmas cactus, give it plenty of water and wait a month before adding fertilizer.

But hold off on repotting because this plant actually does best in a crowded pot. Repotting shouldn’t be done unless it has been at least two or three years since the previous occasion.

Inappropriate wateringYellow Christmas cactus leaves may be a symptom that the plant has root rot, a condition brought on by overwatering or inadequate drainage. Take the plant out of the pot and look at the roots to check for root rot. Infected roots will be dark or black and may appear mushy or smell musty.

The plant may be lost if it has rot, but you can try to salvage it by cutting off the rotting roots and relocating it to a new pot with fresh potting soil. Water plants only when the top 2 to 3 inches (5-7.6 cm) of soil feel dry to the touch or if the leaves appear flat and wrinkled in order to prevent root rot. After blooming, water less frequently, and only enough to keep the plant from withering.

dietary requirements

If you don’t fertilize your Christmas cactus frequently, the plant may be lacking essential nutrients if its leaves start to turn yellow. From spring through mid-autumn, give the plant a monthly feeding with an all-purpose liquid fertilizer.

The Christmas cactus is also reported to require a lot of magnesium. As a result, several resources advise applying a monthly supplemental feeding of 1 teaspoon of Epsom salts diluted in 1 gallon of water during the spring and summer. Don’t use the Epsom salt solution the same week you apply conventional plant fertilizer, and space out feedings.

excessive direct light

While the Christmas cactus thrives from bright light in the fall and winter, excessive sunlight in the summer can cause the leaves to seem yellow and washed out.

Knowing the cause of the Christmas cactus’ yellowing leaves will make this issue less frustrating.

What causes my cactus to become orange?

Cacti that become yellow, orange, or appear bleached out have been overexposed to light. The hue of a healthy cactus will not fade. A cactus may be burned by the sun if it is transplanted from moderate light to intense light.

White blossoms on Christmas cacti, is that true?

Unbelievably, you might have a Thanksgiving-themed cactus rather than a Christmas-themed one! Despite having extremely similar appearances, the two plants are distinct.

Unfortunately, the fact that these Christmas succulents are sometimes mislabeled at garden centers contributes to the confusion between them. Furthermore, the misunderstanding is exacerbated by the fact that they both bloom in the late fall or early winter. But it’s good to know which one you actually possess. How to tell them apart is as follows:

Thanksgiving Cactus (Schlumbergera truncata)

The Thanksgiving cactus’ leaves can be used to distinguish it from the Christmas cactus. The leaf segments, or “phylloclades,” have pointed spines and are serrated or “toothed,” with 2-4 on each side.

Because of this, these succulents are known as “Crab Claw Cactus.” The final segment’s end has a point on either side and a little concavity.

Thanksgiving cactus flowers are created at the tips or the point where the leaf segments converge. They look like a long tube, like a flower inside a flower.

They normally bloom around Thanksgiving and come in a variety of hues, mostly pastels, such as red, pink, peach, purple, orange, or white.

Observe the pollen-bearing anthers as well.

Christmas cactus anthers are pink to purplish-brown, and Thanksgiving cactus anthers are yellow.

Christmas Cactus (Schlumbergera bridgesii)

The Christmas cactus has leaves with a more rounded, scalloped edge. Although each segment’s tip has a small curvature, they can appear practically straight across.

Christmas cactus blooms often bloom in December and are pink or white. But if you notice flowers on these plants between March and May, don’t be alarmed.

Easter Cactus

Unbelievably, there is also an Easter cactus (Hatiora gaertneri), and you got it, it blooms in April. The leaves of these succulents feature a strong ridge on one side and tiny bristles.

The flowers are more shaped like stars. They originated in Brazil’s native, temperate woodlands. Although this cactus is significantly more susceptible to over- or under-watering, use caution when watering it.