How to Take Care of Christmas Cactus Plants | Desert Botanical Garden


Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera sp.) are popular choice this time of year for its highly colored flowers. These epiphytic cactus (plants that grow on trees) are native to South American jungles and look quite different from the desert-dwelling cactus. How to care for Christmas cactus can be different too. Here are some quick tips to keep them thriving. Visit the Garden’s shop to see the great variety of Christmas cactus available for sale this holiday season. 

Q: How much sunlight does Christmas cactus need?

A: They do best in bright to medium indirect sunlight. They are not suited for direct sunlight especially during the summertime.

Q: Where is the best place to grow cactus?

A: They can be grown indoors or outside on a patio or shaded structure as long as they get the sunlight requirement listed above.

Q: How often should I water my Christmas cactus?

A: This is a harder question to answer because it depends on the soil mix. The soil should retain moisture but should not be sopping wet. The soil should not be completely dry either because this can cause the roots to die. Soil should be well-draining but able to hold onto some moisture.

Q: How long will my Christmas cactus bloom?

A: They typically begin to bloom from November through January.

Q: How can I get my Christmas cactus to bloom next year?

A: Flowers begin to form by lengthening nights and when nighttime temperatures drop below 55 degrees. It is best to move your Christmas cactus outdoors, if you cannot meet these requirements indoors. Move your Christmas cactus outdoors in the fall typically in October. However, if temperatures drop below freezing, make sure you protect and cover your cactus as freezing temperatures can kill your plant. Cooler temperatures also keep the flowers lasting longer.

Q: Why do the flower buds drop?

A: This happens from a variety of reasons including fluctuations in temperatures, roots drying out or becoming water-logged, moving the plant around and too cold temperatures.

Q: What do I do after they have flowered?

A: After they have finished flowering, they look stressed and the stems have shriveled. This is normal as they use a lot of energy to produce so many flowers. They require a rest period and they won’t grow or produce flowers. They will begin to produce new stems in spring as the temperatures rise. You can apply a slow release fertilizer at this time.

Q: Are Christmas cactus safe for pets?

A: According to the ASPCA database, they are not toxic or poisonous to cats or dogs. However, with any ornamental plant, it is best to take the best precautions to keep your pets safe.