When it’s winter or springtime, the Christmas cactus becomes popular because many people use it as a gift. You can see the plants sold everywhere in flower shops and grocery stores. This hybrid cactus produces bright flowers that come with a variety of colors sure to captivate anyone. If you grow this cactus at home, you need to take good care of it for you to see it bloom during the holidays.
The best care you can ever give your Christmas cactus is appropriate watering. Unlike other cactus plants, Christmas needs more watering and proper care to live for days. They are epiphytes native to the tropical rainforests and grow on other trees instead of soil. This feature makes them completely different from other cactus in terms of moisture and nutrient needs.
So, how often should you water your Christmas cactus, and how much water do they need? We have all that covered in this article.
Check the Soil to Understand Watering Needs
The best way to understand how often to water your Christmas cactus is to check the soil. As you already know, these cacti are not like the others, and they can’t tolerate drought. Once you notice that the potting soil is dry, you should water your plants.
When watering, make sure excess water drains to the bottom of the pot. You should never allow the soil to get waterlogged. Your Christmas cactus will not appreciate long hours of sitting on top of the water. If they sit on water for many days, especially in winter, the roots will rot.
You should consider the type of potting soil you have under your plants. Check how large the potting container is as well as the sunlight and the temperature reaching your plants. If you want to get your plant to thrive, you must ensure you water whenever the soil is dry.
When to Water Your Christmas Cactus
When you have cactus in your home, you know they react differently to seasonal changes, and Christmas cactus is the same. To water your Christmas cactus the correct way, take into consideration the climate and the season. In a hot and dry climate, you need to give your plant more watering, which can be twice or three times per week.
If the climate is cool and humid, watering once a week can work well. You should water even less in winter and fall if you want it to bloom. Watering will also depend on where you place your cactus. If your cactus is exposed to a lot of sunlight, the soil will dry off faster, and your plant will need much more watering. If it’s in a humid and cool place, you’ll have to water it less.
How to Water Christmas Cactus
Now that you know when to water and when not to water your Christmas cactus, it’s also vital that you know how to water it. Do you water from the top or the bottom? Well, according to gardeners, the best way to water your Christmas cactus is from the bottom and not the top. Watering from the bottom ensures that enough water gets to the roots and reaches the plant.
If you water from the top, the water will not saturate the soil. The water will trickle down from the plant, and only a small amount will reach the roots of your cactus. If you use this method, you could think that you’re watering your plant the correct way when it’s under-watered. So, for your cactus to get the much-needed water, bottom watering will be the way to go.
Don’t Over-Water or Under-Water
While Christmas cactus may need more watering than any other cactus, over-watering can become a big problem. If you over-water your cactus, it will develop fungal infection and rot. If you notice that the leaves of your cactus are dropping, those are signs of white rot. Apart from dropping leaves, a cactus that has been attacked by the white rot seems to have white spots on the leaves.
But the problem is not only on too much water because too little can also be a problem. Christmas cactus cannot withstand under-watering like other species. A Christmas cactus that doesn’t receive enough water will start to wilt. You’ll also realize that the flower buds of your precious cactus will start to drop. This cactus cannot tolerate dry soil.
Consider Transplanting Your Cactus
Regardless of how well you water your cactus and care for it, you might still notice that it dries out. If you notice it drying often or the flowers wilting, it’s not receiving enough water. The problem may not be the water but the container. Instead of continually watering your cactus, you’ll need to have a bigger container.
Your Christmas cactus should have a container that drains easily. You need to have a soil mix perfectly made for your cactus and use the right pot for that. You can also combine your plain potting soil and the other with clean sand. Always remember that the size of the container matters.
Is Your Cactus Indoors or Outdoors?
The location of your cactus is one of the things you must consider when it comes to Christmas cactus watering needs. If your cactus is growing outdoors or near the window, you must understand that the temperatures here are too high and the air is dry; you’ll need to water your cactus two to three days a week.
If your cactus is growing indoors in a cool and humid environment, it will need less watering. You’ll also need less watering if your plant receives indirect light, the soil will not dry faster, and your cactus will do just fine with watering once per week.
What’s the Time of the Year?
Your watering season needs to change with the season. How you water your cactus in the hot months is not the same way you water in the cold months. The temperatures drop in fall and winter, which means your potting soil will take longer to dry out. You won’t need to water it more often. This is also the time for your Christmas cactus to show its beauty. Watering sparingly will stimulate blooming to your cactus.
When October comes, you should stop watering your cactus all together because there will be too much water in the soil. By November, you should resume watering but remember to keep it light because the temperatures remain cool.
When you notice that your precious cactus has started blooming, you must cease watering. You should stop watering for about six weeks and allow your cactus to get enough rest from moisture.
With time, new growth will start emerging from your plant, and you must keep in mind that they’re very delicate. But the new growth means that you should resume watering your plant once a week.
Consider the Humidity around Your Cactus
Christmas cactus thrives well in environments with high humidity. If there’s not enough water in the air, the buds of your Christmas cactus will drop. If your location experiences a dry climate or your indoors have a dry climate, you should ensure you place a container filled with water next to your cactus. If you do this, your plant will get the desired humidity from the water that evaporates into the air.
Another way to increase humidity for your cactus is to put gravel on the tray and fill it with water, then put the potted plant. You can also mist your cactus with water once in a while to increase the humidity around. Another option is to place your plant near a humidifier. Or, you can move it from hot radiation or near the vents where there’s low humidity.
Additional Care Tips
Just because your cactus is receiving enough water doesn’t mean you neglect its other care needs. Many cacti need to be in bright locations and need to be fertilized. Your cactus will only bloom and give you the benefits of a holiday cactus if you give it enough light and take good care of it.
Even though Christmas cactus love sunlight, you must ensure it doesn’t burn. You’ll identify a burning cactus when its leaves start turning yellow or brown. If this is the case, you should move it to an area with less direct sunlight.
Your cactus will also need fertilizers occasionally. However, don’t be tempted to give it more nutrients than it needs. The best time to fertilize is spring or summer. Don’t fertilize your plant when it starts to bloom or in the colder months.
Christmas cactus is a highly rewarding plant that is sure to add life to both your indoor and outdoor garden. But this only happens if you take good care of it through appropriate watering. Christmas cactus is more demanding in terms of water needs than other plants, and you must adhere to that. When watering, be careful not to under-water or overwater because that can kill your plant. We hope the information above helps you take better care of your plant.