Common Christmas Cactus Problems

By Heidi Green , last updated April 16, 2011

Most people receive Christmas Cactus plants as gifts around the holidays, but sometimes they develop problems and may die. A healthy Christmas Cactus in full bloom will have green foliage covered with bright pink flowers. It is easy to keep your Christmas Cactus healthy so that it will bloom again next year, but proper care is essential.

Overwatering

Many people have a tendency to overwater their Christmas Cacti. Doing so will cause the plant to wilt and develop root rot. Unlike their name suggests, these plants are actually succulents and shouldn't be grown by most cacti care standards. They prefer evenly moist to moderately dry soil that's well-drained. For best results, grow your cactus in a pot with a drainage hole and a soil mixture that's half perlite and half peat moss. It's also best to fertilize your Christmas Cactus sparingly, and only during the active growing season, which is April through September.

Repotting

Unlike most other plants, the Christmas Cactus actually thrives when it's potbound. Growing Christmas Cacti in a container that's much larger than its rootball will cause poor growth. Grow the plant in a container that's only slightly larger than the rootball, and avoid repotting for as long as possible. When it becomes absolutely necessary to repot, choose a new planter that's no more than two inches larger in diameter.

Heat

Despite common thought, Christmas Cacti actually prefer cooler temperatures, which are essential to produce blooms. Grow your Christmas Cactus in indirect, bright light. Avoid placing the plant near hot or cold drafts or extremely sunny windows, which could cause its leaves to burn. Excessive heat will prevent the plant from blooming and cause any existing flower buds to fall off. During the fall months, the plant needs to be kept at a temperature between 45 and 55 degrees to rebloom.

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