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A Brief Christmas Cactus Watering Guide

What better way to enhance your home’s Christmas vibe throughout the holiday season than to add one of the seasonal cacti plants? The Christmas cactus is not only appealing to the eye but also serves as a great gift option during the holiday season. They are beautiful and readily available in most plant and garden stores.

The Christmas cactus is scientifically known as Schlumbergera bridgesii. It is a succulent epiphyte that mostly grows on trees, trunks, or rock surfaces. It is native to the coastal mountains of southeast Brazil. Their stems are unique. They are leafless but have flattened segments of varying sizes that help in carrying out photosynthesis. These eye-catching plants are easy to grow and maintain. As succulents, they require little attention as they are drought- and neglect-tolerant.

They are called Christmas cacti because they bloom during the Christmas season. Other types of holiday cacti available include the Easter cactus and the Thanksgiving cactus. All three holiday cacti share a similar appearance, with little difference in their leaf shape and flowers.

Watering succulents can be challenging, especially for those from tropical regions. They are adapted to growing in dry conditions, so knowing the appropriate amount and best time to water is very important.

Why Do I Need To Water My Christmas Cactus?

The Christmas cactus, along with the other holiday cacti, are succulents. But they are not as tolerant as other cactus plants found in arid climates. 

The holiday cacti are tropical plants and, like every other plant, require thorough watering to ensure smooth growth. Although Christmas cacti are capable of holding water in their stems, they still need to be watered from time to time. Starving your Christmas cactus can cause it to wilt and its flower buds to drop. 

When Should I Water My Christmas Cactus?

Knowing when to water the Christmas cactus plant can be tricky at times. Tropical plants, irrespective of their family or genus, need water in one way or another to survive. For your Christmas cactus to thrive and blossom, it needs to be watered and provided with sufficient humidity. 

Christmas cactus is different from the regular tropical household plants. Their watering frequency is also different. Since their stems already hold water, they require a lesser quantity of water compared to the average tropical plant.

You should only water your Christmas cactus plant when the soil is partially dry. Only water when you notice the top layer of the soil is dry. To determine this, dip your finger into the soil and check your hands for moisture. If it feels dry, then it needs to be watered.

How Often Should Christmas Cactus Be Watered?

During winter, it takes longer for water to evaporate from the soil. Watering your Christmas cactus the same way you water your other tropical houseplants would only cause more damage than good.

You should be watering your Christmas cactus once every two to three weeks. The idea is to water the plant when the soil is partially dry, which should take about two weeks due to the winter cold and the absence of sunlight.

When watering, ensure you give the soil a good bath. Continue watering until water starts draining out through the bottom of the pot. Also, ensure your pot has sufficient drainage holes at the bottom to avoid trapping water in the pot.

Dangers Of Overwatering Your Christmas Cactus

Overwatering your Christmas cactus is dangerous to the plant. Christmas cactus is capable of surviving infrequent watering practices and is also drought-tolerant. Continuous watering only leads to more health issues. 

One major problem associated with overwatering Christmas cacti is root rot. The amount of damage root rot can do to the overall plant will depend on how quickly you notice the problem and the steps you take to remedy it. A bad stench coming from the ground, mushy and decaying branches and tissue, wilting and discolored leaves, etc. are some signs of root rot.

The reason why root rot is dangerous in Christmas cacti is that it all takes place within the soil, where it won’t be noticed until it’s too late. So if you are faced with such a problem, the best solution would be to change the potting soil and disinfect the pot. And for severe cases, you might need to cut off some part of the root if the damage is beyond redemption. And above all, the best solution remains prevention.


What Is The Difference Between The Various Holiday Cacti?

All three types of holiday cacti share similar features, but with slight differences. One major difference is in the stem segments. The segments on the Thanksgiving cactus are the spikiest, while those on the Christmas cactus have less spiky edges. They are more rounded compared to the Thanksgiving cactus. The Easter cactus has the most rounded edge among all three.

If My Soil Dries Faster, Can I Water The Plant More Frequently?

If your soil dries faster and water is not trapped at the bottom of the pot, you can water it as required.

Can I Allow My Soil To Go Completely Dry Before Watering?

Avoid letting the soil go completely dry before watering. The Christmas cactus is a tropical plant. Its roots cannot tolerate dry soil as they can cause the plant to wilt and cause its flowers to drop.

I Have Been Watering My Christmas Cactus Accordingly, But Its Root Is Still Rotting. What Could Be The Cause?

Apart from overwatering, root rot can also be caused by fungal infection or the lack of oxygen in the soil.

Can A Christmas Cactus Suffering From Root Rot Be Saved?

Yes. You can save your Christmas cactus by cutting off the infected part of the root and planting the healthy part in a new pot with new soil.

When To Stop Watering Christmas Cactus?

Stop watering your Christmas cactus when you notice signs of root rot.