The Hydrogen Peroxide Hack That’ll Extend The Life Of Your Christmas Cactus

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The Hydrogen Peroxide Hack That'll Extend The Life Of Your Christmas Cactus

Christmas cacti are beloved for their magenta flowers, waterfall-like dangle that beautifully spills over the pot, and rounded notched leaves. These cacti are often confused with Thanksgiving cacti, which have spiky and pointed ends. While Christmas cacti are succulents, they differ from other cacti in their tropical nature and require more water than the average cactus. This can lead to overwatering, which makes them susceptible to root rot. However, before giving up on your Christmas cactus, try spraying it with diluted hydrogen peroxide.

Hydrogen peroxide is a simple remedy that helps plants reinforce and nourish their roots. Although it is not considered a fertilizer, it has similar effects and is cheaper than many fancy fertilizers. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approves its use in botanical life, and it is environmentally safe. Hydrogen peroxide has the same atoms as water but with extra oxygen properties (H2O2). The EPA does not identify any health risks associated with its use on plants, as long as it is used in small doses and does not come in prolonged contact with the skin because it is an irritant. If your Christmas cactus is well taken care of, it can live for decades, and hydrogen peroxide is an excellent solution for any issues it may face.

Using hydrogen peroxide on your Christmas cactus

christmas cactus

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Not only can hydrogen peroxide aid in the strength and health of your Christmas cactus, but it makes a positive impact on all plant life. As the solution does with our scrapes and cuts, it helps kill off bacteria in the soil and aids in the plant’s oxygen intake, encouraging new growth. However, like with anything, hydrogen peroxide will harm your Christmas cactus if overused, resulting in burning and further deterioration. To apply hydrogen peroxide to your cactus, you will need to dilute it with water to ensure it is not too strong.

A 3% solution is easily found on store shelves, and typically, a teaspoon of peroxide per cup of water is a safe quantity. Placing this mixture in a spray bottle will make for easy application, and you can mist your plant weekly. If you’re addressing more potent health problems, you’ll want to take a more invasive approach to ensure the peroxide is reaching the plant’s roots. You can do this by removing the plant from its pot and applying the mixture directly to the roots before replanting into new soil or using it to water the plant thoroughly. Keep in mind that succulents have more sensitive roots than other plants, so be cautious when applying hydrogen peroxide. Less is always best, with you having the ability to add more if needed rather than face the irreversible effects of using too much.

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Dr Heidi Parkes

By Dr Heidi Parkes

Senior Information Extension Officer QLD Dept of Agriculture & Fisheries.