Although called a cactus, the Christmas cactus is not like desert-dwelling cacti. This type of cactus is native to a jungle setting and is an epiphyte that grows high in tropical jungles’ treetops.
Christmas cactus blooms in the wintertime and produces gorgeous flowers in a wide range of shades, including:
Christmas cactus is a bit faster growing than desert cactus and will need repotting more often. In this article, we discuss how and when you should repot your Christmas cactus.
Does Christmas Cactus Need Repotting Every Year?
Although these are reasonably quick-growing plants, you may not need to repot your Christmas cactus annually. The plants do well when the roots are a bit root-bound. If you repot too often, you could damage your plant.
How Often Should I Repot Christmas Cactus?
Christmas cactus only needs repotting once every three or four years. If the plant looks a bit weary or the roots begin to grow out the bottom of the current container, your plant is ready for repotting.
When Should You Repot Christmas Cactus?
Springtime is the typical time for repotting most plants, but Christmas cactus blooms during winter and needs repotting immediately after the blooms fade. Never repot your Christmas cactus while it is blooming.
How Do You Repot Christmas Cactus?
Take care when repotting your Christmas cactus because its limbs and leaves are a bit delicate. If you have a large, heavy plant, you may want to trim it back and take cuttings before you repot.
Additionally, lightly wrapping Christmas cactus with lightweight fabric can help prevent breakage.
Get everything ready in advance so that you can transplant your cactus quickly and easily without too much fuss.
Christmas Cactus Soil Mixes
You want a light, airy, well-draining potting mix for this epiphyte.
Soil mixtures made for succulents or bromeliads are ideal.
You can also make your own Christmas cactus mix using two parts high-quality potting mix and one part sand.
Another option is a mixture of equal parts packaged garden soil, coarse sand/gravel, and peat moss.
Never use soil that comes directly from your garden as it may contain bacteria, fungi, and viruses that would harm your Christmas cactus.
Take care not to give your Christmas cactus a pot that is too big. Just move up to the next size pot. Make sure that the container you choose has lots of drainage holes.
Good drainage is a must. Christmas cactus is a moisture-loving plant, like most epiphytes, but it cannot stand in water. Use the soak and dry watering method whereby you pour water through light, airy soil and allow it to become almost dry before the next watering.
If the soil stays too wet, root rot will set in.
Follow These Steps in the Repotting Process:
1. To repot your Christmas cactus, begin by preparing the foliage as described above.
2. Put an inch or two of fresh soil mix in the bottom of the new pot.
3. Gently remove the plant from its original pot. Take care not to rip it from the soil. Instead, try to remove the root ball intact.
4. Once you have the plant out of the pot, massage the roots to loosen them and remove old soil. If the original potting mixture is quite compacted, rinse the roots gently to remove the soil.
5. Place your Christmas cactus in its new pot so that the top part of the root ball is approximately 1″ inch below the top of the new pot.
6. Pat the soil down lightly so that no air pockets remain.
7. Water your Christmas cactus moderately and place it in a low-light location for a couple of days. Once your plant has settled into its new pot, you can begin caring for it as usual.
NOTE: Too much direct sunlight can burn or bleach the leaves.
Do Your Best to Replicate Christmas Cactus’ Natural Environment
Just remember that Christmas cactus grows from nooks and crannies and treetops of tropical jungle settings in the wild. Their soil consists of natural compost composed of decaying tree leaves, bark, twigs, and similar items.
In the wild, these plants receive lots of water that runs straight through their substrate. The roots dry out and get plenty of air every day.
The closer you can replicate these conditions, the better off your Christmas cactus will be.