Christmas Cactus Problems – Identifying and Fixing

Christmas Cactus diseases and problems are common. This is due to their unique growing conditions and requirements. 

A Proper Guide to Identifying and Fixing Problems With The Christmas Cactus

The stunning houseplant has gained popularity due to its flowering blooms. These blooms are tubular and colorful. It is known to grow in tropical regions of Brazil. Which is unlike the common cactus that grows in dry deserts. 

Caring for this variety of cactus can be challenging. Even experienced gardeners report difficulty caring for the exotic plant. Identifying the common cactus problems on time would help in fixing them.   

Excess Watering Christmas Cactus  

Excess Watering Christmas Cactus  

Most houseplants hate being overwatered and the Christmas cactus is no exception. An overwatered cactus might go limp or turn yellow. This is because the roots would be exposed to excess moisture. With excess moisture, they stop taking in the required nutrients.  

The overwatered plant also gets exposed to fungal attacks. This can in turn lead to other health complications like root rot. If you notice red or black spots on the plant. It might be suffering from root rot. 

Always check the plant pot to be sure the drainage holes are working. You can also try feeling the top part of the soil before watering. The rule is to let the soil dry out a little before watering it. You can also make use of a moisture meter for accurate moisture checks. 

Too Little Watering 

Too Little Watering 
Reddit

You may notice your cactus plant turning gray or leaves falling. These are signs that you might not be watering them well. Although excess water might be bad for the plant. They do require water to grow healthy. 

Do not neglect them. Strike a proper balance between moisture levels with frequent watering. Do this once a week and use the drip irrigation method. 

Excess Sunlight 

Excess Sunlight 
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Be mindful of the sunlight intensity you expose your Christmas cactus. They might be tropical plants but their leaves are delicate. You might notice red or browning cactus foliage, it’s a sign of scorched leaves.

Other visible signs of excess sunlight can be wrinkled or wilting leaves. Grow the exotic cactus in an area with filtered or indirect sunlight. But, ensure the light coming into the area is bright. 

Too Little Sunlight 

Insufficient access to sunlight can also be an issue for the cactus plant. They are green plants that require photosynthesis to survive. Without much sunlight, their growth is stunted. Another symptom would be lack of flowering or poor flowering. 

Christmas Cactus plants can handle low-light environments. But do well to avoid areas of complete shade. Provide artificial lighting during night time and relocate them during day time. An east-facing window is best for the Cactus variety. 

Pests 

Pests 

The Cacti plant is resistant to most pests and insects. But they are some harmful pesky insects that trouble the species. Some of which are mealybugs, aphids, and scales. They feed on the new leaves and cause various health challenges. 

If you notice brown spots on Christmas Cactus leaf. It is a sign that insects like the mealybug might be troubling it. Other visible symptoms are leaf deformation and overall poor growth. Pests like gnats can spread to other houseplants with speed. So beware of them. 

Getting rid of pests can be slow. The whole process might take at least two weeks or more. Make use of natural insecticidal soap or neem oil to get rid of most pests.  Be generous with the application of these treatment items. 

Root or Stem Rot 

Christmas Cactus fungus attacks are often the cause of these problems. This in turn is caused by excess or improper plant watering. When the excess moisture builds up on the root or leaf of the plant. It opens the cactus up to fungi attacks from bacteria. 

It can be difficult to spot root rot. However, stem rot causes the entire plant to fall or look limp. Try to identify rot on time, as delay can kill the plant. If this happens, salvage what is left and propagate to grow a new plant.   

Frequently Asked Questions

How much sunlight does a Christmas cactus need?

For proper growth, provide at least 8 hours of sunlight a day. This should be bright but indirect.  

Do you water a Christmas cactus from the top or bottom?

It helps to water the Christmas cactus plant from the bottom. Use the drip watering method. 

Are eggshells good for Christmas cactus?

Eggshells are a good source of calcium carbonate. Add them to your fertilizer for Christmas Cacti. 

Do Christmas cactuses like to be misted?

Yes, In fact misting is more preferred to waiting. Frequent misting helps keep the plant moist and healthy. 

Should I deadhead Christmas cactus?

Deadheading the blooms is good for the cactus variety. This should be done during winter. 

Marijke Puts
About Marijke Puts
Marijke Puts has Bachelor’s Degree in Communication Science and is from The Netherlands. She has a certified master gardener and loves everything about houseplants and gardening.

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