How to Take Care of a Christmas Cactus

How to Take Care of a Christmas Cactus image by iStockPhoto

The bright, colorful blooms of a Christmas cactus will fill any room with holiday spirit. It can also make a wonderful, thoughtful gift for the plant lovers on your list. The Christmas cactus is a sensitive plant with special needs. It requires varying amounts light and different types of care during each season. With proper attention, it will remain a lovely addition to your holiday décor as it grows and blooms year after year.


Step 1

Prune the cactus. When your Christmas cactus finishes blooming for the season, use your fingers or gardening shears to pluck a few pieces from each stem. This will encourage growth and more profuse blooming next year.

Step 2

Care for your plant differently in the winter. Place your Christmas cactus in a cool spot indoors where it will receive plenty of light. You can make its home near a window or under a florescent light.

Step 3

Water your Christmas cactus when the top inch of soil feels dry to the touch. In spite of its name, the Christmas cactus requires more frequent watering than other types of cacti. Water the plant thoroughly then allow it to drain. Never allow it to sit in water.

Step 4

Place your Christmas cactus outdoors during the summer months, but keep the pot in a shady spot. Unlike many other cacti, it will not thrive in full sun. Feed it with houseplant fertilizer during the growing season, according to the directions on the package.

Step 5

Begin moving your Christmas cactus back inside gradually during early October, increasing the number of hours it spends inside a little at a time. At the end of October, begin placing it in a closet or other cool, dark place at night and put it back in its usual spot during the day. These long periods of uninterrupted darkness will prepare it for blooming during the December holidays.

Tips and Warnings

Propagate your Christmas cactus by planting the pruned sections in vermiculite. Re-pot your Christmas cactus every third spring, using fresh soil intended for succulent plants. If the plant’s buds begin to fall off, it is getting too much water, or it is too close to temperatures too hot or cold for its liking.

Things You'll Need

Christmas cactus, Water, Houseplant fertilizer, Soil for succulent plants, Sunny window or florescent light

About this Author

Susan Steen graduated from the University of New Orleans, where she earned a B.A. in sociology and a certification in social work. She has been a freelance and contract writer for 22 years. Her work has been published in “Evidence Technology Magazine,” “Louisiana Bar Journal,” the Cobblestone children’s educational publications “Faces” and “Appleseeds,” the Waterford Literacy Program, and a variety of websites.

Photo by: iStockPhoto

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