A comprehensive guide on taking care of your Christmas Cactus: expert tips and advice

A comprehensive guide on taking care of your Christmas Cactus: expert tips and advice

The Christmas cactus is a popular houseplant that is loved for its long-lasting, vibrant blooms. With proper care, these plants can thrive and continue to produce beautiful flowers year after year. In this article, we will explore some tips and tricks for caring for Christmas cacti and ensuring that they remain healthy and happy.

First, let’s start with the basics. Christmas cacti are typically potted plants that have long, flat stems with serrated edges. These stems are made up of segments that give the plant a unique appearance. Some common varieties of Christmas cacti include the Schlumbergera bridgesii and Schlumbergera buckleyi. When properly cared for, these plants can live for years and become a favorite holiday decoration.

One important thing to note about Christmas cacti is that they have different needs depending on the time of year. During the growing season, which typically occurs from spring to fall, these plants prefer bright, indirect light. Placing them near a window, but not directly in front of it, is a good way to ensure they get enough sunlight without risking leaf burn. In addition, it’s important to keep the soil moist but well-drained, as these plants do not like to sit in standing water.

During the winter months, Christmas cacti have different requirements. They need a period of rest to encourage blooming. During this time, reduce the amount of water you give your plant and place it in a cooler area of your home. This will help trigger the blooming process and ensure that your plant will produce beautiful flowers when the holiday season arrives.

In conclusion, caring for a Christmas cactus is not difficult, but it does require some attention to detail. Providing the right amount of light, water, and humidity, as well as giving the plant a period of rest during the winter months can help ensure that it thrives and continues to produce stunning blooms year after year. Whether you choose to keep it as a holiday decoration or give it as a gift, the Christmas cactus is sure to bring joy and beauty to any home.

3 Secrets to Getting Christmas Cactus to Bloom + Care Tips

If you’ve ever tried to get your Christmas cactus to bloom without success, you’re not alone. Many people struggle to get these beautiful plants to flower, but with a few tips and tricks, you can enjoy a stunning display of blooms year after year. Here are three secrets to getting your Christmas cactus to bloom, along with some essential care tips:

1. Provide the Right Amount of Light:

Christmas cacti are native to the shady forests of Brazil, so they prefer bright but indirect light. Place your cactus in a well-lit area that does not receive direct sunlight, such as an east or north-facing window. Too much direct sun can cause the leaves to turn yellow and scorched.

2. Offer Proper Care and Maintenance:

Christmas cacti don’t require a lot of water, but they do need consistent moisture. Keep the soil slightly damp, but not soggy. Water your cactus thoroughly, and then allow the top inch or so of soil to dry out before watering again. During the blooming period, be sure to mist the plant regularly to increase humidity.

3. Provide the Right Temperature and Darkness:

Christmas cacti bloom best when they experience a period of cool temperature and darkness, similar to their natural environment. To initiate blooming, expose your cactus to cooler temperatures of around 50-55°F (10-13°C) for about three weeks, and provide at least 12-14 hours of darkness daily. This can be achieved by placing your cactus in a cool, dark location such as a basement or closet during the evening hours.

In addition to these three secrets, some other care tips for your Christmas cactus include using a well-drained potting medium, repotting every two to three years with a high-quality potting mix, and fertilizing with a balanced fertilizer like Dyna-Gro Bloom every two weeks during the growing season.

Remember, it may take some time and patience before your Christmas cactus blooms again, so don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t happen right away. With proper care and attention, you can enjoy the beauty of your Christmas cactus year after year.


It’s not always easy to tell the difference between a Christmas Cactus and a Thanksgiving Cactus, especially since they both belong to the same family of cacti called Schlumbergera. However, there are a few key differences that can help you distinguish between the two.

The most noticeable difference is the time of year when they bloom. Christmas Cacti typically bloom in December, around Christmas time, hence the name. On the other hand, Thanksgiving Cacti bloom in late November, around the time of Thanksgiving. So if you notice your cactus blooming in December, it is more likely a Christmas Cactus, while a cactus blooming in late November is likely a Thanksgiving Cactus.

Another difference can be observed in the shape of the stem segments. Christmas Cacti have smooth and rounded stem segments, while Thanksgiving Cacti have pointed and jagged stem segments. By looking closely at the shape of the segments, you can get a clue about which type of cactus you have.

Additionally, the way they respond to darkness can be a telltale sign. In order to rebloom, Christmas Cacti require a period of darkness for at least 12-14 hours a day, for a period of about 6 weeks. Thanksgiving Cacti, on the other hand, will start to bloom without any specific darkness requirements. So if you notice your cactus blooming after weeks of shorter days and longer nights, it is likely a Christmas Cactus.

If you’re still not sure, another clue can be found in the color of the blooms. Christmas Cacti tend to have red, pink, or white blooms, while Thanksgiving Cacti usually have more orange or yellowish blooms. By looking at the color of the blooms, you can make a good guess about which type of cactus you have.

In conclusion, although Christmas Cacti and Thanksgiving Cacti are quite similar, there are a few differences that can help you tell them apart. By looking at the time of blooming, the shape of the stem segments, the response to darkness, and the color of the blooms, you can determine which type of cactus you have in your collection. Knowing these differences can be helpful in providing the right care and ensuring that your cactus thrives and flowers beautifully year after year.

For more information, you can visit the University of Florida IFAS Extension website where you can find some helpful photos and further details about the differences between Christmas Cacti and Thanksgiving Cacti.

Christmas Cactus Care

Christmas cacti (Schlumbergera buckleyi) are popular houseplants commonly seen during the holiday season. They are known for their beautiful purple or pink blooms that often show up around the Christmas holidays.

If you’re wondering how to care for a Christmas cactus, here are some helpful tips:

1. Light: Christmas cacti prefer bright, indirect light. Place them near a window where they can get a few hours of morning sunlight, but avoid direct sunlight during the hotter times of the day.

2. Temperature: Christmas cacti are native to the tropical rainforests of Brazil, so they thrive in temperatures between 60-70°F (15-21°C). They can tolerate slightly higher or lower temperatures, but sudden drops or extremes in temperature can cause their leaves to turn a darker green or even fall off.

3. Watering: Christmas cacti need well-drained soil. Water them only when the top inch of the soil feels dry to the touch, then water thoroughly, allowing the excess water to drain out. During the winter months, reduce watering frequency to simulate a drought period, which can encourage blooming.

4. Fertilizing: Use a water-soluble fertilizer formulated for flowering houseplants, and apply it every two to four weeks during the growing season (spring and summer). Avoid fertilizing during the fall and winter months, as this is the time when the plant needs darkness to initiate blooming.

5. Repotting: Christmas cacti prefer being slightly root-bound, so repotting them every two to three years is usually sufficient. Use a well-draining potting mix and a container that is slightly larger than the current one.

6. Re-bloom: To ensure your Christmas cactus blooms year after year, it is important to mimic its natural environment. About six to eight weeks before the holiday season, reduce the temperature to around 50-55°F (10-13°C) and reduce the amount of light the plant receives during the day. This difference in temperature and light can help initiate blooming.

In conclusion, caring for a Christmas cactus involves providing bright, indirect light, well-drained soil, and regular but careful watering. By mimicking its natural environment and giving it the right amount of darkness and temperature, you can help your Christmas cactus bloom for many years to come.


Light is an important factor for the common Christmas Cactus as it needs bright but indirect light to thrive. Placing the cactus near a window that receives bright, indirect sunlight is ideal. Avoid placing it directly in the path of strong, direct sunlight as this can scorch the leaves.

If you live in an area with intense sunlight, you can use sheer curtains or blinds to filter the light and create the right conditions. One trick is to use pebbles or marbles in the bottom of a saucer and place the potted cactus on top. This provides a cushioning effect and allows the light to reach the bottom of the pot.

During the winter months when the days are shorter, the Christmas Cactus will benefit from being placed in a well-lit room or near artificial light sources. However, be sure to avoid keeping it near heat sources such as radiators or vents, as this can dry out the plant.

One important thing to note is the difference between the Christmas Cactus and the Thanksgiving Cactus (Schlumbergera truncata vs Schlumbergera bridgesii). While both require similar care, the Thanksgiving Cactus is more tolerant of brighter sunlight and can handle direct light for short periods. However, it’s best to stick to bright but indirect light for both types to prevent any related problems.

Another factor to consider is the climate in which the Christmas Cactus is placed. These plants prefer temperatures between 60-70°F (15-21°C), although they can tolerate slightly cooler temperatures at night. If you live in a colder climate, such as Michigan, it’s best to bring your Christmas Cactus indoors during the winter months to protect it from freezing temperatures. If your Christmas Cactus is placed outdoors during the summer months, be sure to bring it back indoors once temperatures start to drop in the fall.

In conclusion, providing the right amount of light for your Christmas Cactus is crucial for its overall health and blooming. Remember to keep it in bright but indirect light, away from direct sunlight, and avoid extreme temperature fluctuations. Following these light requirements will help your Christmas Cactus thrive and produce beautiful blooms for years to come.

✿ Read More: Gardening Tips and Advice.

Dr Heidi Parkes

By Dr Heidi Parkes

Senior Information Extension Officer QLD Dept of Agriculture & Fisheries.