Everything You Need to Know About Christmas Cactus: Care Tips, Blooming Secrets, and More!


Christmas Cactus, also called Schlumbergera, is a type of cactus that blooms around the Christmas season. It is native to the coastal mountains of Brazil and typically thrives in more humid conditions, unlike other cacti. The name “Christmas Cactus” comes from its tendency to bloom in December, but it is also known to give beautiful blossoms around Easter.

This plant is unique in that it requires specific care during different months of the year. In the fall, it needs to be put in a cool, dark area for about six weeks to initiate blooming. Once the Christmas Cactus starts blooming, keeping it in a bright, indirect light near a window will help it continue to bloom.

When it comes to watering, the Christmas Cactus prefers to be kept slightly moist. Overwatering can cause the roots to rot, while underwatering can result in the plant not blooming. The best practice is to water the plant thoroughly and let it drain completely. Always make sure to empty the water that collects in the bottom tray.

If you want to connect with gardening enthusiasts and learn more about caring for Christmas Cactus, there are various gardening communities and online forums where you can find advice and solutions to common problems. You can also buy insecticidal soap to keep pests away from your Christmas Cactus and repot the plant every two to three years to ensure its optimal growth.

Christmas Cactus

The Christmas cactus, also known as the Holiday cactus or Schlumbergera, is a popular plant, especially during the holiday season. It is a member of the cacti family and is often grown indoors. This plant is great for all plant lovers and is easy to care for.

The Christmas cactus needs well-drained soil and thrives in high humidity. It prefers humid conditions, so it is important to water it regularly to keep the soil moist. However, be careful not to overwater as this can lead to root rot. It is also a good idea to place a tray of water under the plant to increase humidity levels.

When it comes to lighting, the Christmas cactus prefers bright, indirect light. Placing it near a window where it can receive morning or evening sun is ideal. However, direct sunlight can burn the leaves, so it is best to avoid placing it in a spot with direct sunlight.

During the growing season, which is usually in the spring and summer months, the Christmas cactus needs regular fertilizing. You can use a balanced fertilizer once a month to promote healthy growth and blooming. However, during the fall and winter months, it is best to reduce fertilizing as the plant enters its dormant period.

Pruning is also an important part of caring for the Christmas cactus. In the spring, after the blooming season, you can prune the plant to encourage branching and more blooms. Simply pinch off sections of the plant to promote new growth.

One of the most common problems with Christmas cacti is the occurrence of fungus gnats. These small insects can be a nuisance, but there are ways to prevent them. Keeping the soil well-drained and avoiding overwatering can help prevent their appearance. If you do notice fungus gnats, there are insecticidal soaps you can use to get rid of them.

The Christmas cactus is known for its beautiful blooms, which can range in color from red and pink to purple and white. To ensure a healthy bloom, it is important to provide the right conditions for the plant. This includes the right lighting, humidity, and temperature.

If you are planting your Christmas cactus outside, make sure to pick a location that provides shade during the hottest part of the day. The plant can tolerate cooler temperatures but is not frost-resistant. Bringing it inside before the first frost is necessary to protect it from damage.

Overall, the Christmas cactus is a great addition to any homestead or indoor plant collection. Its easy care needs and beautiful blooms make it a popular choice for plant enthusiasts. By following these care tips and advice from UFIFAS, you’ll soon learn how to properly care for your Christmas cactus and enjoy its blooms for many years to come.

Planting and Care

When it comes to planting and caring for a Christmas cactus, there are a few key things to keep in mind. These beautiful plants prefer to be indoors and thrive in a home environment. They do well in temperatures between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

If you’re putting your Christmas cactus outside during the summer months, be sure to place it in a shady spot to protect it from the hot sun. It’s important to note that Christmas cacti are not true cacti, but rather members of the succulent family.

When it comes to watering, Christmas cacti have different needs depending on the season. During their active growing season (typically spring and summer), they like to be kept slightly moist. However, during their dormant period (usually in the winter), they prefer their soil to be drier. Be careful not to overwater, as this can cause the roots to rot.

To encourage blooming, it’s important to provide your Christmas cactus with the right conditions. They need bright, indirect light for about 12-14 hours a day. Placing them near a window that receives morning or evening sun is ideal. Avoid exposing them to direct sunlight as this can harm the leaves. Additionally, keeping the cactus in a cooler temperature (around 50-55 degrees Fahrenheit) for about 6 weeks in the fall can help stimulate blooming.

When it comes to repotting, it’s generally recommended to repot your Christmas cactus every 2-3 years. Use a well-draining soil mix and a pot with drainage holes to prevent overwatering. Fertilizing once a month during the active growing season with a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer can also help promote healthy growth.

Christmas cacti are generally hardy plants, but they can still be susceptible to certain pests and diseases. Common pests include mealybugs, aphids, and fungus gnats. To prevent and treat these problems, make sure to keep your plant clean and inspect it regularly for any signs of infestation or disease. If you notice any issues, there are various organic and chemical options available to help control them.

In conclusion, with the right care and attention, your Christmas cactus can thrive for many years, providing beautiful blooms and adding a touch of festive cheer to your home.

Preventing Problems

When it comes to caring for your Christmas cactus, prevention is key. By taking the necessary steps to prevent common problems, you can ensure that your cactus stays healthy and vibrant all year round.

One important aspect of prevention is understanding the difference between a Thanksgiving and a Christmas cactus. While they may look similar, there are subtle differences in their blooming season. A Thanksgiving cactus typically blooms in late November to early December, while a Christmas cactus blooms a few weeks later in December. Knowing which type you have will help you determine the best conditions for growth.

During the growing season, it’s easy to play around with your cactus and move it from one spot to another. However, once the blooming season starts, it’s important to leave your cactus in one place. Christmas cacti are often sensitive to changes in light and temperature, and moving them too often can cause them stress and prevent them from blooming.

Avoid placing your cactus outside during the colder months. While it may seem tempting to give it some fresh air, the low temperatures can damage or even kill your cactus. Christmas cacti are native to the humid and high-altitude forests of Brazil, so they prefer warmer conditions.

Preventing diseases and pests is another important part of maintaining a healthy Christmas cactus. To prevent diseases, always buy a healthy plant from a reputable source. When planting or repotting, make sure to use clean tools and potting soils specifically designed for cacti. Overwatering is a common problem, so be careful not to water your cactus too often. Allow the top inch of soil to dry out between waterings, and always water from the bottom to avoid wetting the leaves.

If you notice any signs of pests, such as gnats or aphids, act quickly to prevent further infestation. There are various methods you can use to get rid of pests, such as spraying the leaves with insecticidal soap or using natural predators like ladybugs.

Proper fertilizing is essential for the growth and blooming of your Christmas cactus. Use a balanced fertilizer formulated for cacti, and follow the instructions carefully. Over-fertilizing can cause damage to the roots and lead to root rot.

Lastly, keeping your cactus in the right conditions is crucial. Christmas cacti prefer bright but indirect light, so placing them near a window is ideal. They also thrive in a slightly humid environment, so misting the leaves with water once or twice a day can help create the right conditions.

By following these tips and being proactive in preventing problems, you’ll ensure that your Christmas cactus will continue to give you beautiful blooms year after year.

Also on Gardening Solutions

Looking for more gardening tips and solutions? Check out the sections below for more information on caring for your Christmas Cactus and other plants.


If you’re having trouble getting your Christmas Cactus to bloom, it may be time to repot it. The plant prefers well-drained soil and likes to be slightly pot-bound. Repotting every few years can help encourage blooming.


During the holiday season, watering your Christmas Cactus daily can help keep it thriving. However, be sure to let the soil dry slightly between waterings to avoid overwatering and root problems.


To encourage flowering, fertilize your Christmas Cactus monthly from spring to fall. Use a balanced fertilizer and follow the package instructions for the best results.


If your Christmas Cactus becomes leggy or straggly, pruning it back can help promote bushier growth. Simply pinch off the ends of the stems to encourage branching.

Indoors or Outdoors:

While Christmas Cacti can be grown outdoors in some areas, they generally prefer to be indoors. They thrive in bright, indirect light near a window, but be sure to protect them from direct sunlight.


Christmas Cacti typically bloom in December, but they can also bloom at other times of the year. To encourage blooming, provide a cool environment with a temperature between 50-60°F (10-15°C) and reduce watering for about 6 weeks.

Diseases and Pests:

Most Christmas Cactus problems stem from improper care, such as overwatering or high humidity. To avoid common diseases and pests, ensure your plant has good airflow and a clean environment.

Having a Christmas Cactus All Year:

With proper care, your Christmas Cactus can bloom and thrive year-round. By providing the right conditions and following these tips, you can enjoy beautiful blooms from your cactus for many months to come.

✿ Read More About Cacti and Succulents.

Dr Heidi Parkes

By Dr Heidi Parkes

Senior Information Extension Officer QLD Dept of Agriculture & Fisheries.