Growing Christmas Cactus Indoors – A Planting Guide

Growing Christmas Cactus Indoors

Hello gardeners, we are back with a new topic called growing Christmas cactus plants indoors. Do you want to know how to grow growing Christmas cactus plants indoors? Well, and then you will need to follow this complete article. In this article, we will also mention all the requirements for growing Christmas plants indoors.

Introduction to Growing Christmas Cactus Indoors

Christmas cactus is also known as Schlumbergera truncata and Thanksgiving cactus, holiday cactus, or crab cactus. The crab name mentions the leaf-shaped stem parts that have curved, pointed teeth or claws along with the corners. The Easter cactus Schlumbergera buckleyi has rounded edges on its leaf part. They all originated in southeast coastal Brazil in sunless, humid forests. They are privileged as epiphytes because they live above the ground in the trees, in the place where branches meet and decomposing fallen leaves and wetland collect.

A Step-by-Step Planting Guide for Growing Christmas Cactus Indoors

Christmas Cactus Indoors
Planting Guide for Growing Christmas Cactus Indoors (Image Credit: Pixabay)

The tube-shaped flowers of the Christmas cactus are very beautiful they have a long bloom time and can be white, pink, or red depending on the variety of cactus flowers. There are three main types of Holiday Schlumbergeras Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Easter Schlumbergeras buckleyi and each one of them blooms close to the day that it is named after. Telling them apart can be fairly confusing because most of them are labelled as Christmas cactus but interestingly sufficient, most of them turn out to be Thanksgiving cactus.

The most popular type of Holiday Cactus, the Thanks-giving cactus, Schlumbergera truncate has the pointiest leaves and, on the edges, you will notice some claw-shaped projections. The leaves of the Christmas cactus are less pointy and more scratched and have a teardrop shape while the leaves of the Easter cactus are curved. The flowers of the Christmas and Thanksgiving cactus are tube-shaped, while the flowers of the Easter cactus are daisy-like. So, if you want to know what type of Schlumbergera truncate you have, you need to take a direct look at its Christmas cactus leaves and flowers and stay attentive to its blooming season.

What Is A Christmas cactus?

Things can get stumped since there are three types of holiday cactus, Christmas cactus plant. Thanksgiving, and Easter. Each Christmas cactus blooms through the holiday it’s named after. Christmas cactus has hanging branches composed of flat green leaves and curved teeth. They produce red, pink, white, or purple flowers that bloom at the edge of these branches which may extend up to three feet. Each flower-which is typically about 2-3 inches long-lasts for particular days, though the continuous flowering period typically reaches about two weeks.

Overview Table of Christmas Cactus Plants is Given Below

Botanical NameSchlumbergera Buckleyi
Common NameChristmas Cactus, holiday cactus, crab cactus
Plant TypeCactus
Mature size6-2 in tall, 12-24 in wide
Sun ExposurePartial sun
Soil TypeMoist but well-draining
Soil pHNeutral to acetic nature
Bloom Timewinter
Flower colourPink, red, purple, orange

Christmas cactus Varieties/Types to Grow Indoors

#1 Madame Butterfly’ Christmas cactus

This variety of Schlumbergera is a rare planting with cream-colour and multi-coloured leaves and magenta flowers with white centres.

#2 Thanksgiving cactus

Schlumbergera truncata blooms particular weeks before time than the Christmas cactus plant. It has 2 to 4 sharp teeth along the edge of stem segments. It is also called crab cactus.

#3 Easter cactus

They are native to Brazil, the Easter cactus flowers in late winter and early spring. Its flowers differ from whites to oranges to blue-violet. The Christmas cactus plant’s spines are stacked on top of each other, giving it an individual shape.

 #4 Moon Cactus

Also known as chin cactus, the moon cactus differs in size, shape, and colour. A popular variety is a Tibetan cactus. It originated in South America and comes in very bright reds, pinks, yellows, and oranges. These small plants thrive on window sills that get partial shade light.

# 5 Barrel Cactus

This plant, nicknamed the “mother-in-law cushion” (ouch), requires plenty of suns and not much water. A barrel cactus can thrive with watering as uncommonly as once every two to three months.

#6 Feather Cacti

Don’t be fooled the white “feathers” on this cactus look fuzzy and soft, but they act as a disguise for the sharp spines that cover the surface.

#7 Old Lady Cacti

The old lady cactus, a type of decoration cactus, is covered with prickle and whites down, hence its name. This easy-to-grow Christmas cactus plant is a great option for a beginner.

#8 Prickly Pear Cactus

The prickly pear cactus is a subfamily that is very popular in dry spell-prone areas. Some common differences are the beavertail prickly pear and the Indian scrap prickly pear. The prickly pear does very well in backyards but potting sheds its spines, so may not be for everyone. These cacti produce yellow, red, or purple flowers.

Suitable Containers for Growing Christmas Cactus Indoors

To select a 6-8 inches container for this ground, and re-pot it in 2 sizes larger one when its roots grow outer. Keep in mind that the container should have drainage holes at its bottom. Or just one drainage hole in the middle will also work.

Suitable Soil for Growing Christmas Cactus Indoors

Christmas cactus presents a light, moist well-draining, well-aerated, and humus-rich soil. Avoid using garden soil as it is heavy and can smother the roots. The Best potting soil for Christmas cactus is cactus mix soil or commercial soil mix for succulents or bromeliads. Or simply home-grown by mixing three parts of regular potting soil, with two parts of coarse sand and one part of vermin culture or leaf mould.

One of the most important things you need to do to reach better results is to find the best soil for your Christmas cactus plant. Good cactus soil requires to drain fastly while holding on to the right quantity of moisture to nourish the plant when need is cactus plants make great indoor and outdoor plants with their bold arrival and brightly coloured flowers. These plants are suited to warm and dry conditions and don’t need a lot of attention like other plants. It is relatively easy to grow cactus plants in your home as long as you can supply them with potting soil.

Generally, cactus plants grow very well in porous, pebbly, or sandy soil that supplies excellent drainage and plenty of oxygenating. This soil is not special, but it is somehow different from common soil.  The right spoil must also have plenty of organic matter in it to provide the plant with nutrients as it decomposes. The other function of organic matter is to hold moisture to make sure that the soil does not dry out immediately after watering.

Sunlight Requirement for Growing Christmas Cactus Indoors

The flowers of Christmas cactus grow more enormously in the very bright and indirect sunlight or at a partially shady spot. For indoors, you need to keep container ones at any east-facing window. During summers, you should stay them at any partial shade. Save the Christmas cactus plant from an excess of heat, especially during summer, as it can destroy the green segments.

It’s a myth that cactus will only feel well in very sunny spot locations. A good example is Schlumbergera. It originates in a tropical climate, but will not allow direct sunlight. Especially during the afternoon, the Christmas cactus plant can be seriously destroyed. The Brazilian cactus requires a bright to lightly sunny spot location. It deals well with a few hours of sun during midmorning and afternoon. Regarding these specifications, it can also be a sparse half-shade. Shadowy locations are no chance. Cactus will soften with light deficiency. The quick growth and weak tissue will be significant.

Temperature and Humidity Requirement for Growing Christmas Cactus Indoors

The temperature should range between 15.5-21℃ for normal growth. Room temperature is also acceptable for indoor potted Christmas cactus plants. Ensure to give them partial shade during summers, as the direct full sun can burn the Christmas cactus plant.

 Put a board of water next to the plant so that the water evaporates and supplied humidity. Alternatively, you can make a humidity board by placing the container on a water-repellent saucer that is filled with pebbles and halfway filled with water.

  • Ensure to not let the container touch the water when it is sitting on the pebbles otherwise, the container will choose up water and make it very easier for the roots to rot.
  • 50 to 60% humidity is the optimum goal. If your environment is near to that, you should be excellent.

How to Plant Christmas Cactus Plants Indoors?

Advice for Christmas cactus plant care tells us that it executes well under average home conditions with moderate care. The Christmas cactus will modify to low light conditions, but the plant will manufacture blooms more readily if uncover to brighter light. That start said, too much direct full sunlight can burn its leaves and flowers, so keep the Christmas cactus in an approximate area to avoid this. Christmas cactus moisture is very important as well. The plant needs frequent and around watering, during its very active growth in spring and summer, keeping the soil slightly moist well-drained. Tolerate Christmas cactus moisture levels to drop and dry spells out some between watering intervals, but not at all completely, and never let the plant sit in water, as this will show to root and stem rot. Applying a mild houseplant fertilizer solution every other week is also tolerable. When considering how to care for the Christmas cactus plant, keep in mind it also presents temperatures hovering between15-21℃ with average to high humidity levels. Placing a plate of pebbles filled with water below the Christmas cactus container is a good way to add more humidity to the home.

 Once the Christmas cactus plant has ceased all flowering normally by fall, or about six to eight weeks before you want the plant to re-bloom, you should tolerate the plant to start its dormancy cycle by cutting back on Christmas cactus moisture and removing both light and temperature. Simply cut back the watering and ensure the plant receives 12-14 hours of darkness and average temperatures throughout 10-12℃. Also, keep the Christmas cactus away from blowing areas. When you know how to care for Christmas cactus, this plant is not difficult to control, and when given proper care and placed in a particular location, the Christmas cactus may even surprise you with further blooming cycles around the year.

Water Requirement for Growing Christmas Cactus Indoors

Since this plant is home-grown to tropical rain forests, it blooms in an environment with high humidity but does not recognize having wet feet. Let the top inch of soil dry out in the middle of watering. Depending on the environment in your home, this will mean watering alternating two to three weeks in midwinter. Everyone’s home is very little different, so you will require to adjust how frequently you water based on how warm and dry your home is. When it’s time to water, soak the Christmas cactus plant in a sink or tub until water runs out of the container’s drainage holes. Do not let the container sit in a saucer full of water toss any that accumulates beneath after watering.

If your home is completely dry, you can supply extra humidity by placing the container on top of a small container filled with pebbles, then add water to the pebbles. Just ensure the container is sitting above the waterline alternately in the water. As the water evaporates, it will moisten the air through the plant.

Alternatively, you can mist the foliage of your cactus to routinely supply a more humid environment. Water your houseplant regularly when it is sprout or in bloom, and less often during a dormant time when it is not blooming or lay down on new growth. If in doubt, keep in mind that it will charge better being a bit under-watered rather than being over-watered

Potting and Re-potting of Christmas Cactus Indoors

Considering the conditions they have to modify to in the wild, it makes sense that these houseplants present to be slightly container-bound. A good rule of thumb is to plan to re-pot about every three years in springtime, at the starting of the Christmas cactus plant’s growing season.

Replant in potting soil with good drainage and oxygenating 60% potting soil and 40% sand or leafy mold is recommended. Heavy, waterlogged moist well-drained soils can lead to disease. Read more about choosing the best potting mix for the Christmas cactus plant. When re-potting, handle with care this plant does not like having its roots unsettled.

And remember, this plant does not naturally grow in moist soil, so ensure to move your plant up to a container size that is only moderately larger than the existing one when you re-pot.

How to Prune a Christmas Cactus Plant?

Christmas cactus can live for decades. To keep yours full and bushy, you will want to prune it once it completely blooming. Don’t worry it’s a really simple procedure. Just remove 2 or 3 stem sections per branch on about half the Christmas cactus plant by giving the stem a fast twist between segments. You can prune the other stems next year. If cactus plant branches start breaking off because the plant is so large, trim it a little more. 

You may also like this: How To Grow Mint Indoors.

Tips for Growing Christmas Cactus Indoors

Getting your Christmas cactus to bloom needs to provide these houseplants with two resting times around the year. These resting times are defined by lower temperatures, longer nights, and very less often watering. The first resting time should happen 6- 8 weeks before you expect your plant to flower. It’s a benefit noting that you can’t force a Christmas cactus to flower at a different period of the year. you can simply take these steps to support it to bloom.

During this period, keep your Christmas cactus in a room with bright, indirect light during the daytime, with nighttime temperatures at a chilly 15-21℃, and 13-15 hours of continuous darkness. Also, reduce watering, but do not let the soil dry spell out thoroughly between watering. Some Christmas cactus owners solve the requirements for darkness by placing a brown paper bag over their plants since even exposure to artificial light can protect flowering. Others move their Christmas cactus plants in and out of a closet every day, but this is not put forward Christmas cactus do not like to be moved normally, and the stress that this can aware may protect them from blooming.

For its pre-bloom resting time, I like to place my Christmas cactus in a room on the north side of my house where there is very bright, diffused light, and where the temperature should be the same cooler than in the rest of the house. This is also a room we don’t use in the evening, so my plant also gets sufficient night-time hours of darkness. Once your plant starts to produce sprout, the first resting time is complete, and you can return it to its frequent temperature, light, and water conditions.

Winter care for Growing Christmas Cactus Indoors

Christmas cactus is a low-maintenance plant but requires monitoring for proper growth. They will either bloom in winter or be reposing depending on the genus.

Most cacti are normally reposing during winter and active during summer. However, some are active during winter. Christmas cactus and Thanksgiving cactus bloom in the winter season. We know how unfriendly winter can be, and your Christmas cactus requires to be taken care of with caution. I sought to observe answers on how you can care for your Christmas cactus in winter, and I made some attractive exciting discoveries.

If your Christmas cactus has been outdoor during spring and summer, you require to bring it indoors in cooler weather. This way, your plant will moderately transition without having a shock.

  1. Move your Christmas cactus to a partial shade outdoors, which receives about one or two fewer hours of direct sunlight daily for 1-2 weeks. Do this just before winter when the temperatures are awaited to be below 15℃ at night. 
  2. Move the Christmas cactus plant again to a place that receives one or two fewer hours of sunlight as differentiate from the previous place. 
  3. The idea of moving the cactus moderately is so that it gets used to the temperatures to avoid the shock. Take the cactus indoors and observe a sunny spot. A south-facing window would be ideal. Try keeping the cactus warmer in temperatures of 15 to 21℃. All this is in the groundwork for winter dormancy.
  4. Ensure you don’t fertilize the cactus plant during the winter season because it is dormant. 

Suitable Fertilizers for Growing Christmas Cactus Indoors

The Christmas cactus doesn’t require fertilizer while it is blooming. From April to October, fertilize the Christmas cactus plant every two to four weeks as new leaf growth starts. Christmas cactus require extra magnesium, so mix 1 teaspoon Epsom salts that is magnesium sulphate per gallon of water and apply it every other watering, not at the remaining time as fertilizing. Stop fertilizing in late September or early October to support flower sprout production

While many gardeners potential by their homemade fertilizer for Christmas cactus recollect, with tropical cactus plant, less is more. If you want to use natural compost or coffee grounds on Christmas cactus, only add a tablespoon or two at a time. Grow it in a thin layer from 2 to 3 inches from the stem to the outer edge of the container. Always water after adding any fertilizer or remedy to the flowerpot.

Common Pests and Diseases of Christmas cactus Plants

  • Spider Mites

These Christmas cactus pests are so very small; they are difficult to see with our naked eye. However, if you see excellent webbing or excellent speckles on the cactus leaves, you can be sure your Christmas cactus is overspread with spider mites. Spider mites are normally easy to resolve with the routine application of insecticidal soap spray. Keep the cactus leaves clean, as mites are attracted by unclean conditions.

  • Mealy bugs

Mealy bugs are an irritating pest, common on indoor plants. Although the small bugs on Christmas cactus are very small, they are easy to spot by the preventive cottony masses, which are normally seen at the joints of leaves and stems, or on the bottom of leaves. The bugs, which suck the lower from the leaves, grow larger as they are grown up. If left organic, they leave a sticky substance that attracts leafy mould. To remove mealy bugs, choose them off with a toothpick or soft toothbrush. You can also use a cotton swab to submerge in rubbing alcohol, but be careful too much-rubbing alcohol may destroy the leaves. If all else fails, you may want to try an ingrained insecticide developed for indoor plants.

  • Scale

These Christmas cactus insects can drink sweet juices and decimate a cactus plant in a hurry. Scale is recognized by the smooth outer covering, normally on the bottom of leaves and stems. In its early growth, you can simply scrape the smooth substance from the leaves. Insecticidal soap is also effective. In the case of very large infestations, ingrained insecticides may be the very best solution.

  • Fungus gnats

Tiny, flying pests, fungus gnats are normally more irritating than harmful, although large infestations can aware loss of leaves and an overall unhealthy appeal. Try insecticidal soap spray first, as this may be sufficient to keep fungus gnats in check. You may require re-potting the plant in a clean container filled with fresh, moist well-drained potting mix, and then be careful not to overwater, as gnats are attracted to soggy soil.

Commonly Asked Questions about Growing Christmas Cactus Plants Indoors

In case if you miss this: How To Grow Organic Roses.

Questions about Growing Christmas Cactus
Questions about Growing Christmas Cactus (Pic credit: pixabay)

What is a Christmas cactus called?

Christmas cactus and Schlumbergera truncata are also known as Thanksgiving cactus, holiday cactus, or crab cactus. The crab name mentions the leaf-shaped stem parts that have curved sharped teeth or claws along the edges. The Easter cactus Schlumbergera buckleyi has rounded margins on its leaf part.

Is Christmas cactus is a cactus?

The plant is not a true cactus and is not completely as dry spell tolerant as the name infers. However, it is a succulent plant and can store a reasonable amount of water in the leaves. Christmas Cactus is not only the most popular holiday cactus plant, but they are also the subject of frequent debate between gardeners.

How many times in a year does a Christmas cactus bloom?

Christmas cactus is the most popular when November and December roll around. I happen to like them even when they are not in bloom and think they make excellent houseplants. But wait, did you know that they can repeat the Christmas cactus flower? Mine beginning re-blooming in February, so yes, Christmas cactus does flower more than once a year.

What is the best fertilizer for Christmas cactus?

Abloom formula houseplant fertilizer or a half-power water-soluble formula, such as 20-20-20 or 20-10-20, makes a perfect fertilizer for Christmas cactus. Feed monthly during routine watering from late winter to late summer.

How many colours of Christmas cactus are there?

All three are very easy to grow and have remained the same growth habits and care requirements. Although these familiar cacti are commonly available in partial shades of red, today’s holiday cactus varieties come in violet-purple, pink, and scarlet, as well as yellow, white, orange, purple, salmon, and peach.

Why is my Christmas cactus turning yellow?

Improper watering, Yellow Christmas cactus leaves may be an indication that the plant has a disease known as root rot, which is awarded by enormous watering or poor drainage holes. Decrease watering after blooming, and provide only sufficient moisture to protect the plant from wilting.

How much sunlight does a Christmas cactus need?

This Christmas cactus plant likes a lot of sunlight, but it presents indirect light. Direct full sunlight can easily burn the leaves of the plant, so windows that are facing east or north are very best. A Christmas cactus can modify to low light conditions, but it thrives in bright, indirect sunlight.

Should I mist a Christmas cactus?

You should be misting, and watering day by day.
Instead of watering it like you would a common plant, you should be misting your cactus plant every day. A few squirts from a spray bottle are all you require to keep your cactus plant happy.

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