Lack of water or much sunlight can occasionally result in wilted or weak Christmas cacti. Start by giving the wilting Christmas cactus a small amount of water if you haven’t been watering it. Every few days, continue to water carefully until the soil is barely damp.
Christmas cactus issues can also result from excessively damp soil. The Christmas cactus cannot tolerate wet roots since it is an epiphyte in its natural habitat on the ground of tropical forests, where it takes moisture and nutrients from the air. The roots of Christmas cacti can become excessively wet and floppy because to poor drainage.
Move your wilted or limp Christmas cactus to a location with more shade, especially in the afternoon, if the leaves look dried or burned.
How can a wilting cactus be revived?
Growing cacti outside or indoors can add aesthetic interest and a sense of a harsh, arid landscape. Though many cacti thrive when planted in the ground in a suitable climate, cactus grown in containers may start to wilt as a warning that they are either getting too much or not enough water. Fortunately, you may revive a fading cactus by altering your watering routine and soil.
Check for moisture by feeling the dirt at the cactus’ base. If the soil is fine and dry, the problem may be with the amount or frequency of watering. Advance to Step 2 now.
If the soil is excessively moist, the wilting is due to too much water, and procedures 3 to 5 must be taken.
For every 4 inches (10 cm) in diameter of the pot your cactus is in, or 1/2 cup, of dry soil should be watered. For instance, one cup of water would be needed for an 8-inch (20-cm) saucepan. From spring to fall, supply this much water on a weekly basis; however, during the winter, only provide this much water every two to three weeks.
Remove the cactus gently from the moist soil container, knocking off any extra dirt to reveal the roots. Check to see if the plant roots are still white and solid or if they have gone brown and mushy. Use a clean knife to remove any undesirable, mushy roots.
The wilting cactus should be inserted into the prepared pot’s middle at the same depth as before. For a week, don’t water the plant. Following that, continue watering as directed in Step 2 for the remainder of the year.
How can an overwatered Christmas cactus be identified?
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.
Why does my Christmas cactus seem to be going out of style?
Keeping a Christmas cactus too damp is frequently indicated by its wilting or shriveling. Shrunken leaves can also be a result of drought stress. The roots are suffering in both situations; in the former, they may be harmed by fungi that grow in poorly draining soil. The roots in the latter could be completely dried out.
If the soil feels dry to the touch, the Missouri Botanical Garden advises watering your Christmas cactus. To allow excess water to drain after watering, the container’s base must have drainage holes. Reduce the frequency of watering the plant if the soil is still damp for several days. Unfortunately, the plant might not survive if Christmas cactus root rot severely damages the roots.
Water the plant or repot it in new soil if the dirt is really dry and pulling away from the pot’s side. According to the University of Connecticut Home & Garden Education Center, giving a plant too much water at once might be detrimental. Instead of completely drowning the plant, apply a little water every day or two until the soil is damp but not soggy.
How frequently should Christmas cacti be watered?
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 can a wilting Christmas cactus be revived?
Repot the Christmas cactus into new soil when it is extremely limp and the earth is wet. As much soil as you can gently remove from the pot after removing the weak Christmas cactus from it. By repotting your Christmas cactus with your own homemade soil, you can prevent future issues. Use high-quality potting soil in a 2:1 ratio with sand or vermiculite to ensure precise drainage.
Repotting a weak Christmas cactus might be the answer, even if the soil is dry. Even though the plant prefers to be tucked away in its pot, switching to a little larger pot with new soil every few years will help you prevent Christmas cactus issues.
An ailing cactus can it be revived?
While skin-deep disorders in the upper body of the cactus can be easily handled, those that have spread to the roots typically result in a plant that is slowly dying. Excision of the diseased tissue works successfully for the majority of cacti. Dig out the damaged flesh with a clean, sharp knife, then let the hole dry out. When the wound is healing, avoid overhead watering.
There is not much you can do if the roots have been affected by the harm. You could attempt to repot the plant by removing the unhealthy soil and adding sterile soil in its place. Before replotting the roots in a new potting medium, thoroughly wash the roots out.
Taking cuttings and allowing them to grow roots for a brand-new plant is another way to salvage a mushy, soft cactus. Before inserting the cutting into the sand, let it a few days to callus over. The cutting may need to be rooted for several weeks. A healthy cactus that looks exactly like the parent plant will be created using this method of propagation.
Why did my cactus get lopsided?
Your cactus plant is stressed if its branches are drooping or sagging. Your cactus may become stressed and develop a sagging appearance as a result of inadequate water or sunlight, freezing damage, or mealy bugs.
Can a cactus grow after being overwatered?
But if you notice any green on your cactus, there’s a strong possibility you can still revive it, regardless of how awful it appears. The task of saving an overwatered cactus is definitely doable. With some patience and some work, you can grow a healthy cactus in a few weeks.
What kind of plant are overwatered cactus?
When growing cactus for the first time, overwatering is the most prevalent issue gardeners face. But as we had indicated in the start, this can come at a high cost that is extremely unpleasant to bear. What are some of the risks associated with overwatering a cactus plant, then?
Loss of color
The majority of cacti plants have various shades of green, ranging from lighter lime tones to deep virid hues.
But an overwatered cactus would typically look lifeless and lifeless. The discoloration typically begins gradually, making it possible for you to miss noticing any discernible difference between the plant’s original and current colors.
Chlorosis, which is brought on by overwatering, causes the color to change from green to yellow over time. Chlorosis, which is the loss of the green pigment, can result in the plant’s growth being slowed and its flowers not opening properly.
Remember that the plant can no longer efficiently absorb nutrients when there is too much water in the potting mix. As a result, your cactus stops growing since it is deficient in vital nutrients.
Soggy and droopy plant
Inadequate moisture caused by overwatering can also cause plants to become drooping and damp. Normally, you should be concerned if you touch your plant and the stem feels mushy and soft.
Because the stem cells are overflowing with extra water molecules and are now protruding outward, they are soft and mushy.
The plant’s tissues begin to bulge and eventually rupture as the pressure increases. The rupture of the tissues alters the plant’s internal transportation system, making it unable to move nutrients and water to other areas.
Over time, various plant components begin to sag and fall off one by one. When a huge cacti species, like the Saguaro, can no longer hold its weight, the entire plant may tumble over.
Root rot & death
Decomposition is inevitable when a cactus plant is exposed to an excessive amount of moisture. Root rot results from air supply problems caused by wet soil.
Most of the time, rotting begins at the plant’s root tips before spreading to the base. Due to the fact that root rot occurs underneath the surface, it is frequently challenging to recognize the damage till it is too late.
When the rot is worse, your plant will become stunted, and you might be able to touch the stem and have pieces of it break off. If nothing is done to save the situation, it will eventually turn black and the cactus will perish.