The Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera truncata), or Holiday Cactus, is a lovely plant with vivid pink and scarlet blossoms when in bloom. It is a very well-liked plant in America and is frequently presented as a gift during the holiday season.
The Christmas cactus, which grows in USDA hardiness zones 10 to 12, is distinct from the Thanksgiving cactus and the Easter cactus. What occurs, though, is if you take care of your cacti plant all year long, and when the time comes for its winter bloom cycle, you discover that you have Christmas cactus leaf problems.
In our guide, you can learn why you have a droopy Christmas cactus. By the end, our article aims to show you the problems and the fixes to get healthy plants before it’s too late and you lose your plants altogether.
Why Is My Christmas Cactus Wilting?
Typically, two issues—excessive moisture and root rot—are at blame for a wilted Christmas cactus. If you have the former issue with your Holiday cactus, it will probably progress to the latter.
The Christmas cactus is a tropical plant native to Brazil that tucks itself into the crooks of tree branches, setting it apart from desert cacti.
It demands more upkeep and maintenance than other cacti, so you can see what causes these issues and what you need to do if your plant’s showing signs of wilting. (Read Christmas Light Bulb Size Chart)
The most frequent cause of a withering Christmas cactus is moisture issues. Usually, while watering a houseplant, you want to water deeply until water flows from the drainage holes.
It may show stunted roots and a hint that you need to re-pot your plant if, when you water it, it simply runs straight out the bottom. A Christmas cactus typically only needs to be re-potted once every three to four years, but if you believe this may cause your wilted leaves.
Root rot results from an over-watered Christmas cactus and prolonged sogginess of the soil. Although, a wilted Christmas cactus can come from under-watering.
How frequently should I water a Christmas cactus? When in bloom, you should typically keep the soil slightly moist, and when the plant is not in bloom, wait for the top few inches of the soil to become bone dry before you add more water.
Consider replacing the soil with nutrient-rich, well-draining soil if you think dampness and soggy soil are to blame for your wilted Christmas cactus. According to experts, the Christmas cactus prefers open, quickly drying soil.
By combining one part potting soil, two parts peat moss, and one part sharp sand to improve drainage, you may create your custom soil mix for Christmas cacti. Your holiday houseplant will receive all the nutrients needed to survive and regrow its wilted leaves if you do this, creating the ideal mix.
The Christmas cactus is typically grown inside as a houseplant and prefers a sterile potting mix. Therefore, contamination with soil from the outside could cause Christmas cactus pests.
When in bloom, you should fertilize at least once a month to eliminate wilted leaves.
A Christmas cactus will frequently suffer from root rot if the soil is left soggy for an extended period. This is incredibly unhealthy for your plant and could lead to its death. Unfortunately, this is another typical issue with a wilting Christmas cactus.
If you suspect root rot in your Christmas cactus, search for these indicators. Lift your Christmas cactus out of its pot to inspect its roots. Root rot causes darkened, slimy roots that cannot absorb water or nutrients.
If this is the reason for your wilted Christmas cactus, act quickly because root rot is fatal and can only be fixed by propagating from a cutting. While your plant will love high humidity, you can see where they hate wet feet.
How to Fix Christmas Cactus Root Rot
If you discover root rot in a Christmas cactus early enough, you may remedy it. When attempting to save your Christmas cactus from root rot, follow a few straightforward steps:
- First, remove it right away from the pot.
- To remove the fungus/slime, carefully wash the remaining roots after removing the rotten roots.
- Allow the roots to dry overnight in a warm, bright, and well-ventilated space.
- Place the roots in a fresh pot with drainage holes after completely dry.
- Fill the pot with your quick-drying, airy soil mix.
- Don’t water your newly potted Christmas cactus for a few days.
- After completing the above steps, water your holiday plant as usual.
- Remember to water your plant thoroughly until water flows from the drainage holes.
- Before setting your Christmas cactus onto the saucer until all the water has drained.
Always remember that an under-watered Christmas cactus will thrive better than one that sits in too much water. (Read Christmas Tree Not Drinking Water – What To Do)
Common Christmas Cactus Problems
1. Lack Of Water
Christmas cacti are low-water. If the potting mixture is damp, you can extend the time between watering in cold rainy seasons.
Unfortunately, large watering intervals make it simple to forget to water the plant.
Plant cells shrink and become flaccid by plasmolysis when water is scarce; thus, the cacti plant wilts.
- Check soil dryness with your finger. Water the plant if more than half your index finger touches dry soil.
- Water slowly, like drip irrigation, to let the soil soak up as much as possible before excess water drips out.
- If you have extremely dry soil, you can fill a sink and submerge the pot in water for at least 10 minutes. Water will rush through all drainage holes in no time.
- Remove the pot from the sink and let excesses drain out.
- Water the plant again after 2 or 3 days using drip irrigation. Use a plastic bottle with a cap if you don’t have a dripping pipe with a nipple.
- Make a small hole the size of a 3inch nail on the cap. Fill the bottle with water, tighten the cap and place it upside down near the roots.
- Repeat this procedure a week later and then resume the monthly watering schedule to keep the soil lightly moist.
2. Lack Of Drainage
While a lack of water is the primary factor in limp plants, an excess of water can also have a similar cause.
Too much water depletes the soil’s oxygen, and you get root rot from overly wet soil, as we have seen.
Plants become limp because of reduced water absorption. In addition, fungi thrive in moist soil, contributing to infections and root rot.
While roots soften and turn from creamy white to brown because of too much water, the leaves are also yellow.
You can prevent losing your priceless cactus by checking the frequency of watering and clearing drainage holes. Remove the plant carefully and scrape the soil from the roots if a few of the roots have decayed.
Remove any roots that are dark since they are almost certainly diseased. Push a stick through the drainage holes in the pot to clear them. Use high-quality, well-drained potting soil when re-potting the plant.
Before adding your fresh soil potting mix, add an inch-thick layer of gravel to prevent clogs when you re-pot your plant.
3. Too Much Direct Sunlight
For the Christmas cactus to grow, light is necessary. However, because it prefers moist, low-light areas, exposure to the direct sun may cause the plant to develop limp Christmas Cactus leaves.
It occurs when the transpiration rate rises to a point where the root system cannot take enough water to maintain growth. The plant will become pale, red, and brown and turn from prolonged exposure to direct sunlight. (Read Christmas Lights On Stucco Guide)
Place the Christmas cactus in a bright area shielded from direct sunlight.
- Plant Christmas cactus outside under a tree or other bushy plants.
- When growing indoors, move your plant away from hot, direct sunlight, and move it close to a screen window.
The short days and long nights of fall are the primary cause of the Christmas cactus blooming season, with cooler temperatures acting as a secondary trigger.
4. Limp Leaves On A Flowering Plant
For most plants, producing flowers is the most challenging time during their growth. The procedure depletes resources quickly and weakens the plant.
Christmas Cactus leaves become limp in response to the cycle, making it appear as though they are about to revive before coming back to life a few weeks later.
Limping from blooming is common in Christmas cacti, so there is no need to be worried.
Simply let your cactus plant alone. Don’t give it too much water or fertilizer to revive it.
To help flowers form, you might slightly increase the watering frequency to maintain the ideal moisture levels.
From the late winter through the summer seasons, fertilize once a month with a soluble fertilizer at a quarter strength is ample to know your plant gets enough nutrients to avoid droopy leaves.
5. Christmas Cactus’ Stems Falling
Root- or stem rot at the plant’s base causes the stems on your plant coming off. Always; over-watering causes this.
Follow care instructions for over-watering.
6. Flower Buds Fall Before Fully Blooming
Overly sensitive Christmas cactus flowers are well known for this.
Your plant might have moved recently into a different light area, gotten too dry or wet, or both, which is why your buds may have fallen off.
Keep your watering frequency when your plant is in bloom.
Give it time to rest for a few weeks while maintaining a little more dryness than usual.
This will allow it to develop new buds. A Christmas cactus may occasionally produce a second set of blooms if it is healthy and in ideal light conditions.
Can I Save an Overwatered Christmas Cactus?
If you have been generously watering your Christmas cactus without monitoring the substrate and realize it is limp, you may have unintentionally over-watered it.
- Remove the cactus and soil from the pot carefully, then remove the dirt. While here, check for signs of stem rot, which may need cutting.
- Observe the roots and cut off any that remove floppy and soggy, which is the first sign of too much water.
- Rinse the roots under running water that is at room temperature.
- To prevent the remaining healthy roots from drying out, let the plant dry on a damp towel for several hours or throughout the night.
- Put the plant in a fresh mix with well-draining, wet potting soil.
Before giving the plant its regular watering once more, wait around two days, and with luck, you’ll see your plants flowering with the glorious blooms they are famous for.