Caring for a Christmas Cactus Indoors & 3 Easy Tips to Make It Bloom All Year Round

Christmas cactus, also known as zygo cactus, holiday cactus, Thanksgiving cactus, or crab cactus, is a beautiful plant that is easy to care for. These plants are native to the tropical rainforests of Brazil.

This flowering cactus is perfect for indoor gardening. It is also a popular winter gift for any plant lover.

Thanksgiving cactus, or Zygo cactus, is a great way to add some festive color to your garden. They look super cute with their vibrant petals and tendrils of blooms.

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Thanksgiving cactus (or zygo cactus) in bloom

Do you know you can extend your holiday cheer with a bit of effort and some patience as long as you provide them with demanding conditions?

In this post, I will guide you on caring for a Christmas cactus indoors, including Christmas cactus’s favorite light requirements, soil, and when to stop watering your holiday cactus. I also share the best tips to make them bloom all year round. Now, let’s dive in!

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Overview of Christmas Cactus Care Indoors

The Christmas cactus is an amazing plant that can be handed down through generations. All it needs to stay healthy is some occasional deep watering and it will continue to thrive.

Caring for a Christmas cactus indoors is super easy – just remember the three things you need to think about: light, soil & temperature. Make sure you don’t over-water it either, or else your holiday cactus (or zygocactus) will be unhappy & root rot could set in.

They need bright, indirect light and moist, well-draining soil.

In addition, they prefer temperatures between 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit and are sensitive to temperature changes.

Avoid placing your Christmas cactus in direct sunlight or areas with drafts.

Caring for a Christmas Cactus Indoors, christmas cactus Bloom All Year Round

Now, let’s go into more detail about caring for a Christmas cactus indoors and make your plant happy.

Christmas Cactus Light Requirements

Christmas cactus indoors requires bright, indirect light to grow and bloom.

The first thing you could do to your beloved holiday cactus is to place it in an east-facing window that gets plenty of sun during the day.

Avoid placing them in direct sunlight, as this can cause damage to the plant. You can use artificial light to supplement their needs if you don’t have access to bright, indirect light.

Christmas Cactus Soil

The soil used for your Christmas cactus is essential to its growth.

Because cacti and succulents come from dry locations, they need loose, gritty soils that let water flow through freely.

A good soil mix for Christmas cactus should contain the equal amount of multipurpose potting compost, grit, perlite, and horticultural sand. This mixture ensures that the soil is well-draining and retains enough moisture for the plant.

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Blooming Christmas cactus care

Best Temperature Indoors

The temperature indoors plays a vital role in the growth and blooming of your Christmas cactus.

The best temperature range for these plants is between 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit. However, they are sensitive to temperature changes, so avoid placing them in areas with temperature fluctuations.

It is also essential to avoid placing them in areas with drafts or cold temperatures, as this can cause damage to the plant.

You may wonder “when to bring in Christmas cactus from outside?”, then the answer is “it depends on where you live”.

If you live somewhere that’s warm, you can leave your Christmas cactus outside all winter. But if it’s cold where you’re located, it’s best to bring the plant inside when temperatures drop below 50F (10C).

Watering & When to Stop Watering Christmas Cactus

If you wonder “How often do you water a Christmas cactus?” or “when to water my Thanksgiving cactus”, the answer is “it depends”, since these are living plants that need to be taken care of based on their needs.

So my first advice is always to check the soil before watering your Xmas cactus.

These plants require moist soil but dislike being overwatered.

Water your Christmas cactus only when the top inch of soil is dry to the touch. This definition may be complex for you if you are a beginner.

In that case, I suggest using a soil moisture meter to ensure the soil is dry enough before watering. These little gadgets are cheap and easy to find on Amazon. The perfect number for your Christmas cactus before watering is from 1 to 3.

Also, during the winter months, you can reduce the watering frequency as the plant enters its dormant period.

It means you can reduce watering from once every week to once every two weeks or even longer, around October. This simple action helps to prepare the plant for blooming during the holiday season.

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How to grow a bigger Christmas cactus and make it bloom?

How to Make Christmas Cactus Bloom Again After Christmas

Christmas cactus is a beautiful sight when they’re in full bloom – and they can keep flowering all year round! Plus, their vibrant colors bring a candlelit glow to any room. And don’t forget the stunning contrast of their green leaves!

If your Christmas cactus is quite stubborn in blooming in the festive season, or you want it to bloom several times a year from February to Christmas, all you need to do is to follow the advice here!

The first way to encourage blooming is to give them a period of total darkness for 12 hours a day until buds appear.

Second, move your plant to a cool room in early autumn. If you want your cactus to be flowering by Christmas, it’s essential to have it in a cool, dark place for 6-8 weeks.

Christmas cacti will blossom best at temperatures between 50°F and 55°F, and you don’t want any cold or hot drafts affecting them either.

Avoid putting them near a doorway, heating vent, fireplace, or any spot that changes from warm to cold frequently.

Remember to give it water when the Christmas Cactus is in bloom but don’t over-water it, to prevent the buds from breaking off easily. Also, keep your plant away from drafts, too much heat or sunlight, or overwatering, as these factors make the buds fall off.

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Christmas cacti are known for their long-lasting bloom period of up to six weeks. Each flower can last five to seven days, adding a bit of cheer and brightness to the holiday season.

They usually have red flowers, but you can also find hybrids with peach, lavender, magenta, white or pink petals. With this advice, I’m sure you will feel confident to let your cactus show off its striking blooms during Christmas and all year long.

Common Christmas cactus problems

Your Christmas cactus, like any other house plant, may not always be healthy and sometimes run into issues like root rot, drooping leaves, not flowering in the winter, and pest infestations.

Got pests? Take a closer look at mealybugs – they often hide in shady spots and you can spot them from the white, cotton-y patches they leave behind. To get rid of them, use a toothpick or a cotton swab dipped in alcohol to carefully pick them off.

If you’re growing a Christmas cactus outside, watch out for pests like aphids, scale and mites. They can all be taken care of with regular insecticidal soapy spray or neem oil!

If you ask me “why are the leaves on my Christmas cactus limp?“, this could be due to too much or too little water, excessive exposure to sunlight, low humidity levels, or the roots not having enough room.

To understand where Christmas cactus thrives, we should know that their original habitat is Brazil. They need a high level of humidity in the air and draw moisture from it, so if they’re placed in a warm room during winter months, their leaves can droop.

To solve this problem, adding a humidifier to the room or misting the plants twice daily could do the trick.

If your Christmas cactus leaves have gone limp, there’s a good chance it has been exposed to too much sun. Where is the best place to put a Christmas cactus? The best place for this plant is somewhere with partial shade or bright, indirect light so it can bounce back.

Still struggling to keep your zygo cactus healthy? It could be due to overwatering or underwatering, or maybe it’s rootbound. The quickest and best way to help out is by repotting it into a larger pot with fresh soil that has good drainage.

Then, remember to adjust your watering by touching the soil or using a soil moisture meter before you give your plant a drink.

How to Repot a Christmas Cactus

Repotting your Christmas cactus is easy, but keep in mind not to repot your plant too often or when it’s in bloom. You can repot your plant every 4 – 5 years or when the roots have outgrown the pot.

So, when to repot Christmas cactus? If you see your Thanksgiving cactus tired or outgrowing its pot, you could think about repotting it in early Spring, after its blooming season.

When repotting your Christmas cactus, use a mixture of multipurpose potting compost, sand, grit, and perlite to ensure that the soil is well-draining and moist.

Remember to use a pot that’s only slightly bigger than the current one, and make sure the bottom has a drainage hole.

Take out the plant with the soil ball around it and carefully loosen up the roots. Be gentle and avoid damaging the roots.

Put the root ball about an inch below the rim of the pot. Fill in around it with fresh soil and pat down, so there are no air pockets. Once done, water it moderately.

Key Points on Christmas Cactus Care Indoors

Caring for a Christmas cactus indoors is easy and enjoyable. These plants require bright indirect light, well-draining soil, and a consistent temperature range to thrive. Proper watering and repotting when necessary are also crucial for their overall health.

To make your Christmas cactus bloom several times a year, provide them with a period of darkness during the fall months.

Christmas cactus is a great way to brighten up your garden during the holidays. Their vibrant colors and tendrils of blooms give the plant a unique, dainty look.

With the proper care, your Christmas cactus will thrive and produce stunning flowers all year round. By following these tips and guidelines, we are sure that you can enjoy the beauty of your Christmas cactus for years to come.

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FAQs on How to care for a Christmas cactus

Is Christmas cactus a succulent?

While Christmas cactus, or Thanksgiving cactus, is a type of cactus, it’s not actually considered a succulent. Unlike most cacti, Christmas cactus doesn’t store water in its stem and its leaves aren’t covered in spiky thorns.

How long do Christmas cactuses live?

Great question! Christmas cactuses can live for decades with the proper care. Some lucky plants have even been known to thrive for over 100 years!

Does a Christmas cactus need sun?

Well, kind of. While Christmas cactuses do require some sunlight, they don’t like it to be too intense or direct. Instead, these little beauties thrive in bright, indirect light. So find a spot with a good balance of sunshine and shade for your plant to soak up those rays.

How to prune a Christmas cactus?

Ah, the joys of pruning! If you want to help your Christmas cactus grow bushier and produce more blooms, you can give it a little trim. Just grab some sharp, clean scissors and snip off the segments you want to remove. You can also pinch back the tips of the plant to encourage branching. Just be sure to clean your scissors with rubbing alcohol or soap before and after pruning to avoid spreading any unwanted germs.