During the holiday season, many plants come to light and are found in homes everywhere. A holiday cactus or Christmas cactus is one of these plants that grow beautiful and are very popular. The bright and vibrant blooms that Christmas cacti grow reflect the happiness that is reflected during the season.
When you get your Christmas cactus, you want to make it last as long as you can. As they grow, they will need to be repotted over time so that you can continue to get those Christmas cactus blooms as a long-lasting succulent houseplant. Keep reading to know when to repot Christmas cactus through the repotting process.
When to Repot a Christmas Cactus
If you are looking for the right time to repot your Christmas Cactus, you have a few indicators to keep in mind.
Outgrown Its Current Pot
If you have noticed that your Christmas Cactus appears to have little soil and is suffocated by its current pot, then it is probably time for a new one. This does not happen often because this plant does not grow as fast as others. However, it is sometimes a reason to give your Christmas cactus a new pot.
Lack of Nutrients
Because the Christmas Cactus is a slow-growing plant, it is usually getting its nutrients from the same soil for a long duration. Over time, the soil will lose its nutrients and it is no longer beneficial to the plant in question. While you can temporarily supplement the soil with added nutrients, the best course of action is to go ahead and repot the Christmas Cactus in new soil that is full of nutrients.
Lack of Water
Just like losing nutrients, the soil can lose its ability over time to properly store water for your Christmas Cactus. While this plant does not need nearly as much water as other plants, it is still essential to make sure that water is available and stored properly so that the Christmas Cacti will take advantage of the water and get what it needs.
While you want your Christmas Cactus to have the proper nutrients, you do not want a massive build-up of minerals like salt. Depending on what your local environment and weather patterns are, a Christmas Cactus growing outdoors may start to develop a build-up on top of the potting soil or the pot, indicating that it is time to get a new soil mix and take on Christmas cactus repotting.
How Often to Repot a Christmas Cactus
One of the most important things to keep in mind when Christmas Cactus repotting is to do it at the right time for the plant.
This is not something that you need to do frequently. If you repot Christmas cactus too soon, you will find it getting damaged to the roots. You need to spread out your time with the repot, making sure that the current pot is absolutely not going to work for the plant's roots.
Repot After Blooms
You want to make sure that when you repot your Christmas cacti, there are not any blooms or flowers on the plant. This is usually in the spring, right before the plant starts to go dormant. If you attempt to repot the Christmas cactus while it is blooming, you will add unnecessary stress to the plant and it will not be able to properly disperse its energy.
Repot Before Dormancy
Right after the blooming stage and before dormancy kicks in, you have that small window for replanting. When you try to replant any type of cactus, Christmas cactus, Easter Cactus, or a Thanksgiving Cactus, trying to repot the plant during dormancy is dangerous for the root ball. The stress that comes with the repotting process will stress your cactus and keep it from properly coming back out. You can see this in older Christmas cacti planted and then not repotted properly.
Change Pots Every Few Years
Once you have older Christmas cacti planted, you do not have to repot these plants several times throughout the year. In fact, most can go anywhere from one year to three years before they have to be repotted and continue growing. As long as they have plant food and quality cactus mix in their potting soil, they will thrive successfully in their living condition for quite some time.
Choosing the Right Pot For a Christmas Cactus
When it is time to repot your holiday cactus, you need to make sure that you have the right pot so that it will continue growing and thriving.
Step-By-Step Instructions on how to Repot a Christmas Cactus
If you are ready to start the repotting process with your Christmas Cactus, there are several steps to keep in mind.
Step 1: Select your new pot that will give your Christmas cactus a comfortable home for the next year or more. While you have that pot out, make sure that you go ahead and fill it with enough cactus mix potting soil so that you can have a quick and easy move from the old pot to the new pot.
Step 2: Carefully Remove the cacti from its old pot. You want to make sure that you are protecting the root ball when you remove the plant. You do not want the plant to fall directly onto the ground, so make sure you are guiding it out of the pot when you turn it over to get it out.
Step 3: Gently remove the old soil from the plant. Easily give the plant a little dusting or small shake so that any lingering potting soil will fall off the plant. You want the roots to be able to start absorbing the nutrients in the new soil right away.
Step 4: Take your fingers and dig out a hole in the new pot, about two inches deep. You want to carefully insert the root ball and other roots into this hole so that the plant is sitting exactly where it needs to be during the process. You want to give the root ball enough space to have growing room, but still be crowded enough that the growth will be stimulated.
Step 5: Add more soil around the plant. You want to give the plant a drainage hole in the new soil, but you also want to add some cactus mix around the rest of the plant, until the soil is about two inches away from the top of the pot.
Step 6: Add a top layer of erosion control to your potting soil. Adding a layer of rocks, pebbles, or even landscaping glass on the top suppress the soil, keeping in nutrients and prevent good soil from escaping.
Step 7: Add some water to your Christmas cactus so that it gets all that it needs while it is in its new pot. You are pretty much giving it a restart with a new pot and cactus mix, you should also give it a boost with the water, too.
How to Care For Your Christmas Cactus After Repotting
Now that you have repotted your Christmas cactus, given it water, plant food, and a drainage hole in the pot, you can watch your Christmas cactus grow while you continue to care for it. You may notice it is stressed in the beginning, so it will not look its best right away. This is normal and should correct itself within two-three weeks after the initial repot. You want it to be back on the mend before the dormant stage starts to kick in on your Christmas Cactus.
One of the best things you can do for it is to keep it inside during this time so that it can get regulated and reset itself. In many climates, the weather outside can change significantly, and an unexpected cold snap or heat wave could put your Christmas cactus under too much stress to come back from.
You also do not know what type of elements could happen in the next few weeks. While many days may be calm and steady, lots of rain, wind, and even hail sometimes show up and damage even healthy, stable plants in the Spring.
Maintaining Light and Dark
Your Christmas cactus will thrive the most on indirect yet bright light when it is first repotted. Since these plants are often kept housed indoors, this is the type of light they get around the year. However, they do also enjoy direct sunlight, since they are cacti.
If you are keeping the Christmas cactus inside of your home, make sure that it is by a window where it can get the sunlight, but far enough that it has the dark it needs to in the evenings. If you have it outside, you want it in an area where the climate stays warm all year and the sunlight is around. It does not have to be a direct sunlight location, however. Keeping it in a pot allows you to keep it mobile and move where it needs to be.
How Often You Should Water Your Christmas Cactus
As a form of desert cacti, the Christmas cactus does not need to be watered weekly. In fact, plan to water it in two or three week intervals. Before you water, however, check the soil and make sure it is dry before you add the water. If it is still a little damp from the last watering, then it is too soon to water. Try again the next week and see if the soil has dried out enough so that it can be watered.
Once you have repotted your Christmas cactus and it has recovered from the stress of the event, you will start to notice that it will keep a regular schedule for watering, depending on how much you are giving at the time, the soil absorbing the water and the cactus taking on what it needs until the next time.
Best Soil For Repotting Your Christmas Cactus
If you are looking for a good potting mix for your Christmas Cactus, you want to consider purchasing a cactus mix type of potting soil. This is designed to prevent issues such as root rot by providing the exact nutrients that a cactus needs in order to continue growing and remain healthy.
When you first repot your Christmas cactus, make sure that you are not adding fertilizer to the potting soil. With the stress of the new pot and purchasing quality potting soil, your Christmas cactus should not need an overabundance of nutrients from the fertilizer. Plan to add it after about two months when the Christmas cactus has stabilized in the new pot and even started to grow and thrive in its new location.
If you want to keep a Christmas Cactus and watch it grow, you can do that by keeping it in a mobile pot and repotting Christmas cactus periodically. It does not require too much attention like other plants. You do not want to repot too frequently, but when the time comes and your Christmas cactus is in need of new living quarters, make sure you take the time to prepare the new pot properly first, and then put the plant in the new container gently. By paying attention to your Christmas cactus and monitoring it each week, you can easily keep this plant alive and thriving for many years to enjoy during the cooler season.