Cactus Care Made Easy: The Ultimate Fertilizer Guide

Person mixing soil and fertilizer in a pot using a trowel.

If you’d like to see your Christmas cactus blossom, you might buy some fertilizer to help it with blooming. I like Christmas cactus fertilizer as well to promote faster growth of the plant and to promote a greener, happier and healthier plant. However, while you can boost growth with fertilizer, you do need to keep a few things in mind for the best results. 

How Often Should I Fertilize My Christmas Cactus

You should fertilize your Christmas cactus once a month throughout the growing season from April to September. During this time, you may need to repot your cactus as it grows too big for the pot. Most of the time, you should repot the cactus in the spring season after blooming except in emergencies where the pot is hindering the growth of the cactus. 

Expert Tip: Don’t fertilize the plant immediately after the blooming season. Christmas cactus require a rest period after blooming from four to six weeks to ensure that it blooms next year. Don’t repot it during this time either.  

You also should avoid fertilizing them during the season when they enter into their blossoming period (after September). You do it this way because it will give you the best flowering, which can happen anywhere from November to early January. 

The reason that you fertilize the Christmas cactus from April to September is that it promotes growth and helps your Christmas cactus store energy for the blooming season. Whenever a plant produces flowers, it requires a great deal of sunlight and nutrients to produce from the energy.  Be aware that you need to buy high-quality fertilizer that will feed the cactus during this time. 

Don’t over fertilize the Christmas cactus. Excess fertilizer can damage critical proteins that the plant needs to protect itself from pests and diseases. When you over fertilize a Christmas cactus, it will burn the sensitive roots of the plant and make it decay. Christmas cactus are also not heavy feeders, so you shouldn’t use too much. 

What is the Best Fertilizer for the Christmas Cactus?

To fertilize your Christmas cactus, you need to look for a balanced or high-phosphorus fertilizer. In general, this fertilizer helps most cacti species to bloom, including the Christmas cactus. 

I would recommend the Grow Co Succulents & Cactus Plant Food. It releases nutrients slowly to the Christmas cactus, and you can use it as an alternative to a liquid fertilizer. You can use it for other plants as well so that if you only have one or two Christmas cactus, you can still get the most from the fertilizer by using it with other plants. 

Nutrients from Fertilizer and How It Interacts with the Christmas Cactus

In general, you need nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium for the Christmas cactus. Each of the nutrients will play a different role in the growth of your cactus. For example, nitrogen promotes plant growth, gives it the necessary protein and helps it to produce chlorophyll and nucleic acid. 

You want a fertilizer with phosphorus because this helps with cellular growth, plays a role in energy transfer and helps the plant to resist diseases. Finally, you have potassium, which plays a role in boosting immunity, promoting the growth of roots and helps the leaf to produce starch and sugar. Provided you use the right amount, you will help your Christmas cactus to grow faster and produce more beautiful blooms. 

X Tips to Fertilize Your Christmas Cactus

Tip #1 Choose the Right Fertilizer

You need to pick a high-quality fertilizer, or it won’t create the desired effect of growth and better blooming. The right balance of nutrients will give you the best results. 

Tip #2 Use a Balanced Fertilizer

A balanced fertilizer consists of a 20-20-20 ratio of three major components: nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. The numbers represent the percentage of each nutrient in the mix. 10-10-10 means less concentration than the 20-20-20 mixture. These three main components that make up a balanced fertilizer play an essential role in your Christmas cactus’ health.

  • Nitrogen helps produce new stems, leaves and flowers. It stimulates the plant’s growth and development.
  • Potassium supports plant processes such as photosynthesis, water transport and helps fight diseases.

You can use a fertilizer with a higher concentration of any of these nutrients to provide your Christmas cactus an extra boost. For instance, use a fertilizer with higher phosphorus concentration to encourage more blooms from your Christmas cactus. However, too much fertilizer harms plants. Make sure to follow the labels in fertilizer to avoid over-fertilizing. 

Tip #3 Fertilize During the Growing Season

The growing months of Christmas cactus fall from April to September. These months make the best time to fertilize our Christmas cactus because it helps our plant increase growth, produce better blooms and enables an overall healthier Christmas cactus. 

  • Increase Growth – fertilizer allows the development of new stems, leaves and flowers.
  • Better Blooms  – fertilizer boosts the production of larger flowers and abundant blooms.
  • Healthier Christmas Cactus – applying fertilizer allows plants to withstand pests and disease so it stays healthy.

Also, take note that your Christmas cactus in its growing season requires bright but indirect sunlight, regular watering and temperature ranging from 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Tip #4 Dilute the Fertilizer

Fertilizers contain concentrated nutrients that our plants need to grow. Too much fertilizer harms it otherwise. We dilute the fertilizer to prevent this problem. When we dilute fertilizer, we just add water to reduce the concentration of nutrients. Christmas cactus roots only absorb a certain amount of nutrients at a time. Diluting the fertilizer first allows the roots to absorb the nutrients without causing harm. 

Fertilizers come with labels with instructions on the amount of fertilizer to dilute. As an example, let’s say you will dilute a 20-20-20 fertilizer. You need to mix it with water in a ratio of 1:10 to 1:20. Meaning, if you have 1 tablespoon of fertilizer, you need to mix it with 10 to 20 tablespoons of water. By following this diluting ratio, we can avoid the following over-fertilizing risks:

  • Root burn: This problem occurs when roots get exposed to too much fertilizer and the Christmas cactus starts to die.
  • Leaf burn: When the leaves start to turn yellow or brown, it shows signs of over-fertilizing.
  • Nutrient lockout: Plants, such as the Christmas cactus, become unable to absorb nutrients because the soil gets too soaked with fertilizer. 

Tip #5 Thoroughly water the Christmas cactus after applying fertilizer

Watering thoroughly after applying fertilizer allows further dissolution and helps reach the roots. Water distributes the dissolved fertilizer throughout the soil so the roots effectively absorb them. This practice also helps further dissolve fertilizer particles that weren’t dissolved prior. 

Thoroughly watering the Christmas cactus after using fertilizer prevents fertilizer burn. Fertilizers not diluted properly harm your plants and turn them yellow or brown until they die.  

Tip #6 Do not apply fertilizer during winter

Christmas cactus goes dormant from December to February. Don’t give your plant fertilizer during these months. It results in growth that is not in line with the natural cycle of the plant.

Applying fertilizer also promotes root damage and the growth of molds. Christmas cactus prefers a cool and dry place when it goes dormant. Using fertilizer creates a moist environment that encourages the growth of molds. 

Conclusion 

Christmas cactus beautifies our homes and adds a touch of holiday cheer. However, they can be tricky to care for, especially when it comes to applying fertilizer. In general, you don’t need to fertilize your Christmas cactus very often. A balanced fertilizer specifically designed for cacti can be used once a month during the summer and spring months. Always follow the instructions on the label. 

By following the simple tips discussed above, you can ensure that your Christmas cactus gets the nutrients it needs to stay healthy and bloom beautifully.

Frequently Asked Question

What Is the Best DIY Fertilizer for Christmas Cactus? 

Coffee grounds make excellent DIY fertilizers because they contain key minerals ideal for plant growth such as nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus, iron, calcium and magnesium. Coffee grounds also help absorb soil contaminants like heavy metals and attract worms that are great for your garden. 

Simply sprinkle some coffee grounds around the base of your Christmas cactus or you can mix it into the potting soil when you repot your plant. 

Are Eggshells Good for Christmas Cactus?

Eggshells can provide a decent amount of nutrients such as calcium, phosphorus and potassium that are essential for Christmas cactus growth. However, it can’t provide as many nutrients as commercial fertilizers. You can powderize the eggshells and sprinkle them around the base of your Christmas cactus. 

Eggshells take a while to break down in the soil so you may need to reapply the powder regularly.

How Can I Make My Christmas Cactus Grow Faster?

You can make your Christmas cactus grow faster by applying nutrients to its soil and repotting it into a pot 2 inches bigger than its diameter to promote root growth. Nutrients may be provided through fertilizers mainly rich in nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus. Also, make sure that the potting soil contains a generous amount of organic matter and drains properly. 

Why Is My Christmas Cactus Turning Purple?

Christmas cactus is a popular indoor plant because of its vibrant colors. However, seeing the purple discoloration on its leaves and stem brings concern about your plant’s well-being. 

Why is my Christmas cactus turning purple? A Christmas cactus turns purple as a response to environmental stress, such as too much light, to protect itself from the sun’s rays. Other factors such as nutrient deficiency, sudden temperature drops or overwatering also lead to the plant’s discoloration. 

If you’d like to know an in-depth discussion about why a Christmas cactus turns purple and ways to help it turn back to its normal color, keep reading.

What Is a Normal Color for a Christmas Cactus?

A deep, vibrant green indicates that your Christmas cactus is normal. A healthy Christmas cactus possesses plump green leaves and bears abundant flowers. Here are additional indicators of a healthy Christmas cactus:

  • Green-colored stems. Yellowish or pale green stems exhibit signs of nutrient and sunlight deficiency. If the stem turns dark green or purple, it indicates getting too much sunlight. 
  • Glossy green leaves. Purplish shade on leaves means the plant was exposed to too much light. Colors such as yellow, orange or brown on leaves signal a problem.
  • Bright-colored flowers. Flowers make a good indicator of your Christmas cactus health. A healthy Christmas cactus produces vibrant and uniform blooms. If the flowers look faded, it might be a sign that your plant doesn’t get enough light. Aside from the colors, the flower should also:
  1. Produce abundant flowers. If the Christmas cactus grows a noticeably small amount of flowers, it might be a sign of deficiencies in light, nutrients or water.
  2. The size and shape of the flowers are ideal. The flowers of a healthy Christmas cactus look large and well-formed. Small or distortedly-shaped flowers mean your plant doesn’t get enough light and nutrients.
  3. Long-lasting lifespan of flowers. The average lifespan of the Christmas cactus flowers ranges between four to six weeks. However, if the flowers last for several days only, your plant lacks enough water or nutrients.

Importance of Understanding the Causes of Color Change in Christmas Cactus

Knowing and understanding the changes in the color of your Christmas cactus plays a very important role in maintaining a healthy plant, providing optimal care, timing blooms and increasing propagation and cultivation measures. In the following section, we will discuss the essential factors in understanding why your Christmas cactus changes color.

Related article: Best Pot for Christmas Cactus 

To Detect Potential Problem

When your Christmas cactus turns yellow, brown or purple, it indicates problems such as overwatering, nutrient deficiency or root rot. Color change also signals your plant experienced environmental stress or acquired diseases. By understanding why your Christmas cactus alters its color, we can identify and address the problem correctly.

To Provide Optimal Care

Factors such as the amount of water and sunlight, temperature and fertilizer affect the color of your Christmas cactus. Knowing these factors allow Christmas cactus owners, like us, to provide the right amount of care for your plants. For example, adjusting the amount of light exposure promotes more vibrant-colored stems, leaves and flowers. Also, supplying the right amount of nutrient levels and water guarantees healthy leaves and flowers. 

Successful Cultivation and Propagation

Knowledge of the color change of Christmas cactus allows plant breeders and enthusiasts to successfully propagate this plant using different techniques like grafting to preserve and propagate specific color traits. They can also use the knowledge about changes in color to develop new varieties, or cultivars, with desired colors. Some examples of Christmas cactus cultivars are the Christmas Fantasy and the Christmas Flame.

Related article: Most Common Christmas Cactus Problems [+How to Solve Them]

Reasons for Purple Coloration in Christmas Cactus

Anthocyanins are color pigments responsible for the purple color of your Christmas cactus. Environmental stress factors produce these pigments on plants as their response. In the case of your Christmas cactus, anthocyanins absorb the excess sunlight to prevent damage to your plant’s cells. In other words, the Christmas cactus changes color to purple to protect itself from too much light absorption. 

Aside from excessive light protection, here are the other reasons why your Christmas cactus turns purple.

Temperature Stress

Temperature changes induce the production of anthocyanins in the Christmas cactus. The cold temperature causes the accumulation of anthocyanins to prevent cold-induced damage. The ideal temperature for your Christmas cactus should range between 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Exposing your plant to temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit can cause permanent damage. 

Related article: How to Grow a Bigger Christmas Cactus

Nutrient Deficiencies

The purple discoloration signals a lack of nutrients – specifically magnesium and phosphorus. Phosphorous deficiency increases the development of anthocyanin levels which turns foliage to purple discoloration. It also impedes root growth. For the worst symptom, your plant becomes pale due to extreme deficiency. 

On the other hand, a deficiency in magnesium turns the leaf edges purple. Magnesium is a component of chlorophyll – a green pigment in plants. When your Christmas cactus lacks magnesium, it inhibits the production of chlorophyll. To compensate for the lack of chlorophyll, your plant produces anthocyanins, which are purple pigments. 

Although anthocyanins play an unnecessary part in your plant’s growth, they help protect leaves from any damage caused by too much sunlight exposure. 

An ideal amount of phosphorus and magnesium for Christmas cactus is shown in the table below. 

NutrientRecommended Amount
Phosphorous200-300 ppm
Magnesium50-100 ppm

Christmas cactus requires a balanced amount of phosphorus and magnesium. Phosphorus helps your plant bloom and magnesium plays an important role in photosynthesis. We can supply these important nutrients to your Christmas cactus by using fertilizer. The ideal fertilizer ratio contains 20% nitrogen, 20% phosphorous and 20% potassium. 

You can provide magnesium to your plant by using Epsom salts – a natural source of magnesium. You can easily mix this with your fertilizer. The ratio of Epsom salt to give is 1 teaspoon per gallon of water.

Other Underlying Issues

Environmental stresses such as pests, improper potting soil and overwatering or underwatering cause purple discoloration in your Christmas cactus. 

  • Overwatering – Overwatering leads to root rot. Root rot stops the plant’s absorption of water and nutrients. This problem stresses your Christmas cactus which leads your plant to produce anthocyanins – the purple pigments in your plant.
  • Underwatering – Insufficient water supply causes stress to your Christmas cactus. It attempts to produce anthocyanins to protect itself from stress. This causes your plant leaves to turn purple. 
  • Pests – Pests such as mealybugs, scale insects and aphids don’t directly cause the purple discoloration to your Christmas cactus. However, when they feed on the sap of your plant, it weakens your Christmas cactus. It stresses them and causes the production of anthocyanins. 
  • Improper Potting Soil – Using soil not appropriate for your Christmas cactus causes purple discoloration. Improper potting soil brings forth several problems such as poor drainage, nutrient deficiency and too high or too low soil pH. As mentioned, these problems cause stress that leads to the production of anthocyanins in your plant. 

Natural Color Variation

Some Christmas cactus variations naturally exhibit purple color in their leaves and stem. Examples of these variations include the Purple Passion Christmas cactus, Schwarzenberg Christmas cactus and Limelight Christmas cactus. Purple leaves and stems are perfectly normal for these variations and don’t indicate problems. This means that observing the growth and overall health of your Christmas cactus helps determine if this is the case. 

Will a Purple Christmas Cactus Turn Green Again?

Yes, the Christmas cactus can go back to its normal color. Here are the following steps on how to address the purple discoloration: 

  • Provide adequate light. The cactus needs 8 hours of indirect light per day. The ideal location to put the Christmas cactus is by the window except the south. If we place the plant in a south-facing window, use blinds or sheer curtains to filter the light.
  • Fertilize using a balanced fertilizer. The ideal fertilizer formula for this plant is 20-20-20 – 20% nitrogen, 20% phosphorous and 20% potassium. It helps solve the nutrient imbalances causing purple discoloration in the Christmas cactus. 
  • Ensure proper watering. Soak the soil and let it completely dry before watering. Consistency is the key here. If you follow consistent and appropriate practices in watering, it restores your plant’s health and color. 
  • Maintain stable temperatures. We must keep the Christmas cactus in a stable temperature that ranges between 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Exposing this plant to fluctuating temperatures causes it stress, which may turn it purple again.

If the following conditions above are met and still the plant doesn’t return to its normal color, the presence of genetic factors or underlying issues may affect its ability to return to its normal color. You may want to consult a horticulturist for further assistance. 

Related article: Ultimate Guide: Types of Christmas Cactus 

Conclusion

Aside from its normal color variation, environmental stresses cause the purple discoloration in the Christmas cactus. These stresses include temperature stress, nutrient deficiency and underlying issues such as overwatering, underwatering, pests or improper potting soil. We can help address these issues by consistently providing the appropriate care such as addressing the right amount of light, water and nutrients. By doing these things, you can help your plant return back to its normal color. 

How to Grow a Bigger Christmas Cactus

Christmas cacti are a popular choice for indoor plants because they are relatively small and easy to care for. However, they can grow larger in ideal environmental conditions. A Christmas cactus can reach a maximum of 12 inches in height and 24 inches in width. Several factors determine the size of a Christmas cactus. If you want to keep it small, provide your plant with indirect sunlight, well-drained soil and a pot of just the right size. You have to provide more light and a larger pot if you’re looking for a larger Christmas cactus. 

How to grow a bigger Christmas cactus? Choose a pot that is two to three inches larger than the current pot to give its roots enough room to grow. Also, use well-draining soil with high organic content and water your Christmas cactus correctly. 

In this article, we’ll discuss the key factors for growing a bigger Christmas cactus. Keep reading to learn more.

Key Factors for Growing a Bigger Christmas Cactus

Pot Size

Christmas cacti prefer pots that are not too big for them. As suggested, use pots that are two inches bigger than your plant. For example, you have a Christmas cactus that measures 2 inches in diameter. In that case, utilize a pot that measures 4 inches in diameter. Christmas cacti prefer smaller pots because they don’t grow large roots. Using pots that are too large for Christmas cacti inhibits their growth because it causes them to release a stress hormone known as abscisic acid. Abscisic acid is a plant hormone that is released when the plant is stressed in response to several environmental factors. 

Using smaller pots also prevents root rot as it doesn’t hold too much water in the soil. If the Christmas cactus like smaller pots, how can you grow a bigger one? Christmas cactus need repotting every 4 years. After 4 years, the Christmas cactus will outgrow its pots. This is the best opportunity to transition to a bigger pot – but make sure you still follow the correct ratio between the plant size and the pot size. You can check these terra cotta pots that come in different sizes ideal for Christmas cactus.

Related article: Best Pot for Christmas Cactus

Soil

The soil you use impacts the growth of your Christmas cactus. To encourage the growth of your Christmas cactus, choose the right soil. In the next section, we will discuss the different factors to consider in picking the right soil for your plant.

  • Drainage – Use soil that drains well to prevent root rot. Christmas cactus are especially susceptible to this kind of problem. The right soil must not be soggy but must be able to hold some moisture too.
  • Aeration – Aeration provides oxygen to the plant’s roots. Roots need oxygen to survive. Oxygen is required for respiration so roots can produce the energy the plant requires to survive. Compact soil squeezes out the air pockets that give roots difficulty in getting oxygen. It’s very important to choose soil that provides aeration.
  • Organic Matter – Examples of organic matter in soil are compost, peat or leaf mold. Organic matter improves aeration, drainage and water retention. 
  • pH Level – pH level refers to how basic or acidic soil is. It affects the presence of nutrients essential for plant absorption. Christmas cactus requires slightly acidic soil that ranges between 5.5 to 6.2 in pH levels. Too much alkaline content inhibits nutrient absorption in plants. 
  • Nutrients – The major nutrients that Christmas cactus require include nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus. You can provide these nutrients by using fertilizers.

Watering

How you water your Christmas cactus could either hinder its growth or help it reach its potential size. The ideal time to water your Christmas cactus is when the soil becomes totally dry. The best way to water your plant is by soaking it in water and letting the water drain through the pot’s holes. However, water your Christmas cactus less frequently during the winter months. 

The problem of overwatering is mostly common in Christmas cactus. If the roots are exposed to wet soil for too long, it leads to root rot. Too much water in the soil prevents the roots from absorbing nutrients and oxygen crucial for a plant’s survival. On the other hand, underwatering wilts the leaves of the Christmas cactus until it dies. Although the Christmas cactus tolerates underwatering more than overwatering, it’s best to practice the right way of watering it so that it grows into a bigger Christmas cactus. 

Here are some extra tips for watering your Christmas cactus:

  • Thoroughly water the Christmas cactus until the water runs out of the pot’s drainage holes. 
  • Always use a pot with drainage holes to prevent water from getting stuck in the soil.
  • Let the soil turn completely dry in between waterings.
  • You can mist the Christmas cactus leaves regularly to increase humidity.

Related article: Can Christmas Cactus Survive Outside?

Light

All plants, including the Christmas cactus, require light to produce energy. This energy makes the plant grow through a process called photosynthesis. Without light, energy can’t be produced and your plant will die. The Christmas cactus needs at least 8 hours of exposure to indirect light. You can achieve this by putting your plant in the window facing east or south. 

Below, we will discuss in detail how light impacts your plant’s growth:

  • Light intensity – As mentioned, Christmas cactus likes bright but indirect light. Direct exposure to sunlight can burn its leaves while less light can slow down its growth rate.
  • Light quality – Christmas cactus prefer filtered light by the window or shade cloth. This plant can tolerate bright light but not for long. 
  • Light duration – Take note that the Christmas cactus requires 8 hours of indirect light exposure and 12 to 14 hours of darkness. Aside from its growth, it needs darkness to encourage your Christmas cactus to bloom. During the nighttime, this plant gets pollinated by insects, such as moths, which helps their reproduction.

Alternative lights can make up for the insufficient natural light during winter. You can check out this full-spectrum light for indoor plants ideal for Christmas cactus and your other house plants during winter.

However, take note that Christmas cactus still prefer natural light. Also, winter months are when most Christmas cactus undergo the dormancy period. You can reduce the amount of light your plant receives. By giving your Christmas cactus the right amount and right quality of light, you help it grow in size and bloom beautifully. 

Related article: Most Common Christmas Cactus Problems [+How to Solve Them]

Pruning

Taking good care of the Christmas cactus involves pruning. Pruning plays two important roles in the life of your Christmas cactus. What are these two?

  • Pruning encourages new growth – Pruning involves removing old woody leaves and stems. By doing this, you allow your plant to focus on producing new and healthy stems and leaves. The new stems grow larger and stronger than the old ones which results in a bigger Christmas cactus overall. 
  • Pruning improves air circulation – Better air circulation happens between stems when a Christmas cactus is well-pruned. It prevents pests and diseases that keep your plant healthy. A healthy Christmas cactus is more likely to grow bigger. 

How do we prune our Christmas cactus the right way? You can follow these tips from our Christmas cactus experts. 

  • Prune your Christmas cactus only after it has bloomed. Why? After its blooming period, the plant enters into a growth period that is more likely to produce new and healthy stems.
  • Use a sharp and clean knife to cut dead or infected stems off the plant. This prevents the spread of any pests and diseases the old stems of your plant carry.
  • Prune right to the base of the stem. Pruning from the base stimulates the plant to produce new growth.

Questions you may ask about pruning:

  • When is the best time to prune? As mentioned, after the Christmas cactus has bloomed is the right time to prune. This happens somewhere from November to January.
  • How much do I need to prune? If your Christmas cactus is overgrown, you can prune it to about 1/3. However, if your plant is healthy, just remove any dead, damaged or diseased stems. 
  • What specific part do I need to prune? Prune the stems. Leaves are not really needed for the plant’s growth so you can leave them on the plants.
  • What tools do I need to prune? You need a clean and sharp knife to prune the Christmas cactus. Always disinfect your knife before and after pruning to stop the spread of diseases.

Related article: Ultimate Guide: Types of Christmas Cactus

Conclusion

Several factors should be put into consideration to grow a bigger Christmas cactus. Use the right pot size that is only 2 inches bigger than the diameter of the Christmas cactus currently. Choose soil that provides good drainage and aeration for your plant’s roots. Provide indirect yet quality light for your Christmas cactus. Don’t overwater or underwater your plant. Lastly, prune your Christmas cactus to encourage healthy growth. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is the Best Fertilizer for Christmas Cactus?

The best fertilizer for Christmas cactus contains high potassium content in liquid form. Liquid-form fertilizers have less salt content than granular fertilizers. Roots retract from fertilizers that contain too much salt. Examples of liquid-form fertilizers good for your Christmas cactus include Miracle-Gro LiquaFeed Advance Starter Kit, Miracle-Gro Blooming Houseplant Food and Miracle-Gro AeroGarden Liquid Plant.

Where Is the Best Place to Put a Christmas Cactus?

The best place to put your Christmas cactus is in the corner of your house with indirect sunlight, such as your window facing the east, west or south. Christmas cactus thrive well when exposed to indirect light for 8 hours a day.

Ultimate Guide: Types of Christmas Cactus

Did you know that the Christmas cactus is a hybrid of the Thanksgiving and E:aster cactus? The Thanksgiving cactus was the first species discovered in the forest of Brazil in 1817. Later in 1837, Charles Lemaire found the Easter cactus. He crossbred the two species that resulted in the first Christmas cactus in 1852. Today, hundreds of Christmas cactus hybrids exist. Christmas cactus has now become a popular indoor plant and a holiday gift.

What are the different types of Christmas cactus? The three types of Christmas cactus include the Thanksgiving cactus, Christmas cactus and Easter Cactus. Each type acquires distinct features that make them different from each other. Types refer to distinct species that have been identified by scientists.

As we learn the three main types of Christmas cactus, join us as we explore each type in this article. 

Thanksgiving Cactus

We will discuss the first type of Christmas cactus – the Thanksgiving cactus. The Thanksgiving cactus is a native of Brazil’s rainforest which was discovered in 1817. Today, this type of Christmas cactus is a popular indoor plant that blooms during the fall and winter months. It’s also a low-maintenance plant. What makes this type different from the other Christmas cactus variety?  

Key Characteristics of the Thanksgiving Cactus

Leaves – The Thanksgiving cactus has green spineless leaves that are flattened. These leaves possess pointed teeth that appear like a crab’s claws, the reason it is also known as the crab cactus. The Thanksgiving cactus leaves reach a mature size of 12 to 24 inches long. 

Flowers – The flowers of the Thanksgiving cactus come in a variety of colors such as white, pink, orange or yellow. You’ll commonly see them in a dark shade of pink. Thanksgiving cactus flower once a year only. This cactus typically blooms mid-November or early December – that was where it derived its name. The flowers stay for as long as seven to eight weeks.

Related article: Can Christmas Cactus Survive Outside?

Easter Cactus 

Another type of Christmas cactus is the Easter Cactus. It was also discovered in the forests of Brazil in 1832 and found growing on trees and rocks. The flowering season falls from March to May or right around Easter – where its name originated. Most people confuse this one with the Thanksgiving cactus, but they’re two completely different types. So how does this type of Christmas cactus differ from the other types?

Easter Cactus
Easter Cactus

Key Characteristics of the Easter Cactus

Leaves – Unlike the Thanksgiving cactus with crab-like edges in its leaves, the Easter cactus has rounded scallops on its flattened leaves. The presence of bristles and round margins found at the tip of the leaves make this distinct from the other types of Christmas cactus. The segments of the stem usually measure from 2 to 3 inches. The mature stems change from flattened to triangular in shape. 


Flower – As mentioned, the Easter cactus blooms from March to May. The flower appears to be bell-shaped with a diameter that measures between 1.5 to 3 inches. The flower comes in a range of colors, such as pink, orange and red. Unlike the Thanksgiving cactus and Christmas cactus flowers, the Easter cactus flowers open during the day and close at night. These flowers last for as long as two weeks and reopen once the morning comes and closes again at night.

Christmas Cactus

The third type of Christmas cactus that we’re going to discuss is the Christmas cactus. You read it right – the Christmas cactus. To clarify your confusion, the Christmas cactus is just a general term given to a group of cacti that were discovered in the forest of southeastern Brazil. This group of cacti belongs to the genus of Schlumbergera – scientifically speaking. The Thanksgiving cactus is known as Schlumbergera truncata while the Easter cactus is Schlumbergera gaertneri. 

The third type of cactus that we’re currently discussing is scientifically known as Schlumbergera x buckleyi or commonly known as the true Christmas cactus. As mentioned earlier, this type resulted from the crossbreed of the Thanksgiving cactus and the Easter cactus in 1852. 

Christmas Cactus
Christmas Cactus

Key Characteristics of the Christmas Cactus

Leaves – True Christmas cactus consists of flattened segments with edges that are wider at the base and narrower at the tip – like a tear-drop shape. These edges have a series of small sharp teeth that makes it distinct from the other types. The tip of these leaves have areoles where flowers would appear.

Flower – Christmas cactus blooms from November to February. The flowers are asymmetrical and come in different colors such as purple to red. They have a tube-like appearance and droop downwards. This type of Christmas cactus blooms lasts for four to six weeks. 

Caring for Christmas Cacti

Caring for these three types of holiday cacti is pretty much the same. In the next section, we will discuss the general care requirements for the following types. 

Temperature

The temperature requirement for your Christmas cactus ranges between 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Although they are called cacti, they are not similar to the cactus in the desert that can tolerate intense drought. Christmas cacti thrive well in partially shaded locations. 

Light

The Christmas cacti prefer bright but indirect light. Indoors, the ideal place to put the Christmas cactus is in front of the windows facing the east, north or west direction. Avoid the south windows because it’s too bright for the plant. 

During winter months when there’s a scarcity of natural light, you can use artificial lights that emit full-spectrum lights. The light coming from full-spectrum lights will provide our Christmas cactus with the strong lighting it needs to grow and bloom. You can check this Full-Spectrum Light for plants indoors with great features such as dimmable levels, auto on and off timer and adjustable stand. 

Water

The best way to water your Christmas cactus is to soak the soil until the water runs out of the pot drains. After that, allow the soil to completely dry before the next watering. During winter months, slightly water your Christmas cactus. A good interval would be from four to six weeks. 

Related article: Best Pot for Christmas Cactus

Expert Tip: 

Do not use cold water for your Christmas cactus because it can cause shock to the plant. Use lukewarm water. If you live in a humid climate, you may need to frequently water your Christmas cactus. 

Fertilizer

Overfertilizing the Christmas cactus can be more harmful than underfertlizing it. If you apply fertilizer to your Christmas cactus, consider your plant’s size. Large Christmas cactus require stronger fertilizer than smaller ones. The interval of applying the fertilizer ranges between six to eight weeks. Don’t forget to water your plant after applying fertilizer. 

Expert Tip:

Do not fertilize your Christmas cactus during winter months because they are dormant. When a plant is dormant, its growth halts. Applying fertilizer could lead to damage. Fertilizers contain nitrogen which leads to nitrogen toxicity. When a plant is in its dormant period, it slowly absorbs or stops absorbing nutrients and water. Symptoms include leaves turning yellow until they drop.

Pruning

The best time to prune Christmas cactus is after its blooming season – usually during summer or spring. Pruning plays an important part in your plant’s growth because it encourages new growth and flowering. It also promotes healthy plants as it is a good way to remove damaged or dead leaves.

Expert Tip:

In pruning your Christmas cactus, use a sterilized knife to avoid the spread of disease. I’d recommend the OTTO 4 Pack Professional Bypass Pruning Shears. They can help you with indoor and outdoor planting, and the handle design reduces the stress on your wrists making them perfect for older individuals who like plants. 

Pests and Diseases

Christmas cactus is prone to pests and diseases that include:

  • Root rot caused by fungi
  • Spider mites
  • Mealybugs
  • Scale

Isolate your Christmas cactus when infected by any of these pests and diseases. The next step is to remove these pests from the infected parts of the plant. You can use insecticide or fungicide to treat your Christmas cactus. After treating your plant, make sure to take care of it well.
Related article: Ultimate Guide: Christmas Cactus Root Rot

Conclusion

Christmas cactus has three main types that include Thanksgiving cactus, Easter Cactus and Christmas Cactus. Each type acquires key characteristics that make them distinct from each other. The Thanksgiving cactus has crab-like leaves and flower colors that range from white to orange. Easter cactus has leaves with round and smooth edges with golden hair at the tip. The flowers usually appear in different colors such as pink and red. Lastly, the Christmas cactus possess leaves that have tear-drop shape edges and flowers that come in colors of red to purple. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do I Know What Kind of Christmas Cactus I Have?

The easiest way to identify what kind of Christmas cactus you have is by looking at the leaves’ shape. The Thanksgiving cactus has leaves that look like a crab’s claw. The Christmas cactus has tear-drop shaped leaves. Easter Cactus has rounded leaves that have golden bristles at the tip. 

What color is a healthy Christmas cactus?

A healthy Christmas cactus has vibrant dark green leaves that are firm when touched. The leaves are not yellow or wilted. If the leaves are yellowish, the Christmas cactus may be underwatered or overwatered. If the plant is wilted, it is underwatered.

What Is the Original Christmas Cactus?

The original Christmas cactus was recorded in 1854 and is a hybrid of the Thanksgiving cactus and the Easter cactus. It’s called the true Christmas cactus or scientifically known as Schlumbergera x buckleyi. This hybrid blooms in December and January. 

Best Pot for Christmas Cactus

Christmas cacti have been around since the 1800s. It emerged as the hybrid of the “Thanksgiving cactus” and the “Easter cactus”. The first hybrids bore cherry-red flowers that bloom from around November to January. Today, the Christmas cactus became a popular houseplant and a great gift for the holiday. 

One common misconception about the Christmas cactus is that it thrives like other cacti. Christmas cacti is actually not a true cactus so it’s not right to assume it requires the same care as the other true cacti. With proper care, it can live for up to 40 to 50 years. How do we properly care for this plant? Let’s start with the right pot.

Factors to Consider in Choosing the Best Pot for Christmas Cactus

In this article, we’ll give you three factors to consider in choosing the best pot for your Christmas cactus.

Choose the Best Pot Size

First, you must consider the size of your Christmas cactus. Choose a pot that would accommodate the natural growth of your plant. If your Christmas cactus plant currently measures 2 inches in diameter, choose a pot that measures 4 inches. The pot size should be 2 inches wider. Christmas cactus thrives well with moderately crowded roots so don’t choose a pot that’s too big either. 

Choose a Pot With Proper Drainage

Drainage is super important in choosing the best pot for your Christmas cactus. It drains excess water that causes root rot. Roots need oxygen as any living organism does. When the soil doesn’t drain the water quickly, the stagnant water blocks the roots from absorbing oxygen. Plant roots in general require respiration that allows the conversion of glucose into cellular energy. This cellular energy is then utilized for metabolic processes such as taking up water and nutrients your Christmas cactus require. 

Choose the Best Pot Material

Terra cotta or unglazed clay makes the best material for a pot. Its porous characteristic allows water to freely drain water to avoid the problem of root rot. The terra-cotta pot also promotes good aeration around the Christmas cactus’ roots. When it comes to aesthetics, terra cotta pots vary in styles and sizes suitable for your needs. Check out this stunning terra cotta pot perfect for your Christmas cactus. 

Terra Cotta Pots

Terra cotta pots are heavier than other types of pots. When using terra cotta pots for your Christmas cactus plant, it requires gentle handling as it is prone to breaking. The freeze and thaw cycles can also break the pot. To prevent this problem, use things such as stones or bricks to elevate the pot. It’s not a problem for Christmas cactus as it usually stays indoors.


Related article: Can Christmas Survive Outside?

Best Alternative Pots for Christmas Cactus

As mentioned, terra cotta pots are the recommended pot for Christmas cacti. However, you can also use other pots such as plastic pots and ceramic pots as good alternatives for terra cotta pots. Keep on reading as we will dive deep into each material.

Plastic Pots

Unlike terra cotta pots, it’s easier to move plastic pots around without worrying about breaking them easily. The plastic material is more durable compared to the terra cottas’. However, plastic materials can be easily knocked down so make sure to place these pots with Christmas cactus in a safe location.

Durable Plastic Pot

If you use plastic pots for your Christmas cactus, water it more frequently as it doesn’t allow air circulation as much as the terra cotta pots provide. As mentioned earlier, aeration plays a crucial part in the plant’s water and nutrients absorption. Be sure to water your Christmas cactus as needed but allow the soil to dry out slightly between waterings. 


In terms of appearance, plastic pots come in a variety of styles, colors and sizes. Though terra cotta pots offer more aesthetics, plastic pots cover a wide range of colors that can match any decor you have at home like these Joojeers Extra Thick Heavy Duty Plastic Plant Pots.

Ceramic Pots

Ceramic pots are the best alternative for terra cotta pots. It allows water to drain compared to plastic pots. Thanks to their porous material, it allows good aeration for your Christmas cactus roots. This helps prevent root rot and other problems caused by poor drainage. Ceramic pots also offer more aesthetics. They come in a wide range of styles and colors. 

The aesthetic of this ceramic Embossed Leaves Stoneware Pot will suit well for your Christmas cactus at home. Take note that ceramic pots are not as porous as terra cotta pots. Unlike terra cotta pots, ceramic pots do not allow quick water drainage. When you use ceramic pots for your Christmas cactus, make sure that you allow the soil to get slightly dry out between waterings. 

Fiberglass Pots

Have you heard about fiberglass pots before because I didn’t. This type of material is relatively new and provides significant benefits over conventional pots. Fiberglass pots are durable, lightweight and resistant to fading and cracking regardless of the weather and temperature. They also allow a good amount of air circulation in the plant’s roots. 

Fiberglass pots usually come in bigger sizes. They’re perfect if your Christmas cactus reaches its full length like this Fiberstone Matte White Planter. These types of pots are a bit pricey compared to traditional pots. However, they offer impressive durability and they last long while looking great. If you’d like to invest in long-term pots, fiberglass pots make a good option.

Additional Pot Tips

As mentioned earlier, choosing the right size for a pot is crucial. A pot that is too large for your Christmas cactus holds too much water that would cause root rot problems. On the other hand, choosing a pot that is too small for your plant prevents the roots from spreading out. It will impede the growth of your Christmas cactus because it restricts the plant’s water and nutrient absorption.

Once you see that the soil is dry, water your Christmas cactus. Ceramic pots slowly dry out compared to terra cotta or clay pots so you don’t have to water your plant more often. Ceramic and terra cotta pots are prone to cracks during winter. To prevent this, wrap your pot using a burlap sack or by keeping your pot indoors. 

Always empty the saucer to prevent stagnant water around your pot. Christmas cacti belong to the succulent group that’s why they can’t tolerate a mushy environment. Remember also that Christmas cactus doesn’t thrive in extreme drought like the true cacti. Water it once the soil feels dry. 

Related article: Cactus Root System: 6 Things That Will Surprise You!

When to Repot Christmas Cactus

The best time to repot your Christmas cactus is when you see its root bounds. Root bounds usually happen every three to four years. It exhibits similar signs when your plant is underwatered. Your Christmas cactus is ready for repotting if you see the following root bound signs:

  • Roots start to come out of the drainage holes
  • Stem becomes yellow or brown
  • Soil turns hard or the top layer turns dry

You can’t just transfer your Christmas cactus to a new pot any time of the year. It’s best to do this after the plant finishes its blooming season because the buds would fall off if we insist on repotting it. February and March are the best months to repot your Christmas cactus.

How to Repot Christmas Cactus

We need to repot Christmas cactus to replenish the nutrients the soil lost over time. Usually, potting soil loses its nutrients after two years. Adding organic matter like compost helps the soil to retain nutrients. How do we repot Christmas cactus?

  1. Choose a slightly larger pot than your current pot. Make sure the pot is two inches larger in diameter than your Christmas cactus.
  2. Make sure that the pot has proper drainage.
  3. To improve the drainage, add a layer of pebbles or gravel to the bottom of the pot,
  4. Use a potting mix that is specifically made for cacti and succulents and fill the pot with it.
  5. Remove the Christmas cactus from its pot gently. Be careful not to damage the roots of your Christmas cactus.
  6. Using your finger, loosen the roots of your plant.
  7. Gently place the Christmas cactus in the new pot and fill it with the appropriate potting mix.
  8. Thoroughly water the Christmas cactus and place it in a location with shade, not with direct sunlight. The ideal temperature for Christmas cactus is from 70 degrees to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  9. Fertilize your Christmas cactus once a month. Compared with other plants, a Christmas cactus requires a high amount of magnesium.  

FAQs

Do Christmas Cactus Like Clay or Plastic Pots?

Christmas cactus prefers clay pots. Clay pots offer better air circulation to your plant’s roots than plastic pots. Plastic pots retain more moisture than clay pots. Clay pots also help regulate soil temperature. 

How do I Know if My Cactus Needs a Bigger Pot?

When you see roots coming out from your pot’s draining holes, that’s the time you’ll know it needs a bigger pot. This means that the roots have filled up the pot and the plant is no longer able to grow properly. 

Conclusion 

In choosing the best pot for Christmas cactus, you need to consider three things. First, the pot should be the right size. It should be two inches bigger than your Christmas cactus diameter. Second, the pot material should allow good air circulation for your Christmas cactus’ roots. Terra cotta or clay pots are recommended. Most importantly, the best pot should have draining holes to prevent root rot.

Ultimate Guide for Alligator Cactus [Don’t Kill Your Plant]

Have you encountered an alligator cactus before? What makes this succulent unique is its tiny plantlets growing along the edges of its leaves. The succulent’s distinct look gives its other known name – mother of thousand plants. A single leaf can produce 50 tiny plantlets and the whole plant can make thousands of new alligator plants. Despite this unique and fascinating character, it also carries a negative effect as it makes the plant invasive and displaces other plants.

However, this plant is also commonly known as the alligator cactus because of the tiny plantlets growing on the edges of its leaves that look like an alligator tail. Also, these plantlets develop tiny roots that allow them to survive whenever they fall to the ground. Aside from its common name such as alligator cactus and mother of thousands, this succulent also comes with names like the Devil’s Backbone, Mexican Hat Plant and Evil Genius. The alligator cactus first came from Madagascar but now grows in arid places such as South Africa and South America.

Alligator Cactus Appearance  

The alligator cactus has a fleshy green stem like other succulents. A fully mature alligator cactus grows up to 39 inches tall. The leaves are thick and dark green. What makes this plant unique is its tiny plantlets growing at the edge of its leaves. These plantlets acquire roots – the reason why they grow well once dropped on the ground. This uniqueness gives them an illusion of an alligator tail appearance.

The alligator cactus blooms from late December to March. The flowers come in a variety of colors such as pink, purple and red. However, you rarely see this succulent bloom – especially when kept indoors. The flowers come in clusters per branch and protrude from the whole plant.

Caring Needs of Alligator Cactus

Although alligator cactus is easy to grow, its survival depends on what kind of care you give – especially if you have this plant in places far from its natural habitat. To help your alligator cactus thrive, consider the following factors discussed below.

Sunlight Exposure

If you’re growing an alligator cactus indoors, don’t forget to put it outside or on your window for four to six hours in the morning. Since this plant belongs to the family of succulents, it requires sunlight exposure because these plants are already adapted to the arid environment as their natural habitat. Sunlight plays a vital role in their survival. It allows them to produce their food through photosynthesis.

However, sunlight is scarcely available during winter. Don’t worry because you can use artificial lights like LED lights. LED lights imitate the sunlight and give succulents the light they need. These lights come with advantages such as lasting long, energy efficient and you don’t have to worry about your alligator plants getting burned. In using artificial lights as a substitute for sunlight, allow your alligator cactus to bask daily for 13 to 18 hours as this timespan equates to six-hour long exposure to sunlight.

Soil and Pot Requirements

Just like other succulents, the alligator cactus needs well-draining soil and a well-draining pot. When it comes to well-draining soil, four potting mixes are usually used. You can follow the ratio provided below:

  • Cactus Mix (2 parts)
  • Coarse sand ( 1 part)
  • Pumice (1/2 part)
  • Perlite (1/2 part)

The above ratio provided is just the basics and you don’t have to strictly follow it. For example, if your alligator cactus experiences slow draining of water, you can put an additional mixture of perlite. One problem that most succulents encounter is root rot due to poor water drainage, so make sure you don’t overlook this factor by using a well-draining soil mixture in a well-draining pot as well.

When to Fertilize Alligator Cactus

You can start fertilizing your alligator cactus in the second year after repotting it. It takes a year for your cactus mix soil to lose its nutrients. However, remember to fertilize your succulent during its active months starting from March to September. Your alligator cactus stays dormant after those months when winter starts. This plant undergoes dormancy to survive the extreme cold and bounces back when the normal temperature starts again.

Fertilizing your alligator cactus during its dormancy period will cause rotting. When succulents hibernate, they stop absorbing the available nutrients provided by the fertilizer. If you put in fertilizer during this phase, it will disrupt their natural growth cycle. Fertilizer will soften their leaves so that they slowly start to rot.

On the other hand, fertilize your alligator cactus during its active season. You may ask – how often? Some people would fertilize this succulent once a month during the summer months. Some say every two to three months and some would say every year. The University of Minnesota Extension suggests fertilizing cacti once or twice a year when they are actively growing.

They also suggest using fertilizers with higher phosphorus content than nitrogen. Diluting the fertilizer in half was the recommended rate.

Water Requirements

If you’re growing alligator cactus indoors, water it once every two weeks. This succulent doesn’t require frequent watering because it can live without water for a long period. Succulents can drink and store water in their leaves and stem through their widespread root system. The reserved water gets tapped when needed.

If your alligator cactus grows outdoors, check the soil by sticking your finger in it. Don’t water it if it feels damp. Give it two days or more, because it varies in the temperature. When the time comes that you need to water it, use water that has a temperature of 68 degrees to 77 degrees Fahrenheit – or simply the same as your room temperature.

However, the best way to water your alligator cactus is the soak and dry method. The soak and dry watering method involves drenching the cactus soil in water and waiting for it to completely dry between watering. What makes this watering method the most recommended one is that succulents develop an extensive root system that allows them to thrive during longer periods of the dry season. The soak and dry method helps your alligator cactus produce larger roots for more water storage.

During the alligator cactus’ dormancy period, give less water. The dormancy period starts during the winter season. As mentioned earlier, succulents like the alligator cactus ingest less water and nutrients when they go dormant so be careful with the amount you give them. It will lead to the rotting of your alligator cactus.

Environmental Requirements

Aside from the light and temperature requirements, growing an alligator cactus requires a safe environment. This succulent contains toxicity that’s dangerous to pets and children. It contains a toxin called bufadienolides that causes paralysis, cardiac poisoning, gastrointestinal distress and even death. Ingestion symptoms include:

  • Weakness
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting

Studies show that the alligator cactus possesses toxins for humans instead of potential medical use. Keeping this plant away from kids’ reach is strictly recommended. This succulent possesses a reputation for being a killer of dogs and livestock. It adversely affects the nervous system and muscular systems of animals. If you own pets and livestock at home, it’s best to keep the alligator cactus out of reach.

If you plan to grow alligator cacti outdoors, place them in a pot. Letting this kind of succulent grow on the ground isn’t recommended as it becomes invasive over time. The tiny plantlets easily fall off from their leaves. Putting your alligator cactus in a pot helps prevent this problem because you can catch them and dispose of them properly. Don’t throw the plantlets elsewhere because they multiply faster, displacing other plants from their natural habitat.

Propagating Alligator Cactus

Due to the large number of plantlets found at the edge of its leaves, propagating alligator cactus seems easy. These plantlets already acquire roots while still attached to the leaf holding them. They easily fall off when touched lightly. All you have to do is pick some of the plantlets and place them on a mixture of cactus soil, pumice or perlite (refer to the soil pot requirements mentioned above).

When putting the plantlets on their soil mixture, use a stick to create a shallow hole in the ground. Using a stick makes it easier to adjust the holes that could fit the roots. Remember not to bury the plantlet leaves. The leaves should barely touch the soil. Gently cover the roots with soil and give them enough water.

Ideally, plant them in several pots to make sure you get extra plantlets when others couldn’t make it. If you’re having alligator plants indoors, put them in the brightest corner of your apartment where the sun directly hits them.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I Remove Babies From Mother of Thousands?

The plantlets naturally drop themselves on the ground so you don’t have to remove them. If you’d like to, you can remove them by gently picking up each baby. They easily detach themselves from the mother leaf.

How Fast Do Alligator Plants Grow?

The tiny plantlet detached from its mother plants takes two to five years to fully grow. It grows up to three feet tall – given that it grows outdoors with the sufficient sunlight it needs. When planted indoors, expect them to grow shorter than three feet.

What Is the Difference Between Mother of Thousands and Mother of Millions?

Mother of thousands grows a single stem that grows upwards following the direction of sunlight. A mother of millions has several stems in contrast to a mother of thousands. Another distinct difference between the two plants is their leaves. A mother of thousands has wider leaves compared to a mother of millions with narrow leaves.

Conclusion

Alligator Cactus is one of the most unique succulents due to its way of reproducing. It’s easy to grow and in fact, an invasive species. Despite its interesting appearance, it’s toxic to both humans and pets. Make sure to keep this plant away from your kids’ and pets’ reach. 

If you enjoyed this article, maybe you will enjoy another article we wrote on why your cactus isn’t growing

10 Stunning Cactus with Pink Flowers

Are you looking for a cactus plant that bears pink flowers? We got you covered. Cacti with pink flowers aren’t hard to find. Upon doing research, we found different species of cacti that produce pink flowers – with Opuntia, or also known as the prickly pear cactus, as the most common one. To know more about these cacti that bloom with vibrant pink flowers, keep on reading.

Prickly Pear Cactus

Prickly Pear Cactus

The most common cactus that produces pink flowers is the prickly pear cactus. It starts to blossom from early June to September. These flowers come in vibrant pink blossoms but may also bear yellow, red, orange, white or purple. The flowers appear to have uniform-looking petals and sepals. The innermost part of each flower mostly comes with an orange smear. You can see these flowers grow on top of the cactus pads.

The prickly pear pink flowers later develop into edible fruits. These fruits, also called tunas, are cooked in various ways. This cactus is well-sought in Mexican cuisine as 95% of its production’s purpose is for domestic consumption. Each year, the country produces approximately 800,000 tons. In fact, this cactus has become Mexico’s well-known symbol.

Moon Cactus

Who isn’t fascinated by the moon cactus? This succulent needs to be grafted, usually to the stem of dragon fruit, and comes in different colors. Moon cactus bloom with vibrant pink flowers starting from March to June. Aside from pink, you can also see this cactus producing white, yellow and bright red flowers. The flowers grow up to four inches wide and come in funnel shapes. However, the flowers only live for 12 hours. Sometimes, the buds fall off from their scion before they even open.

Moon Cactus Pink Flowers

As mentioned, moon cactus is known as a grafted plant. Since this plant alone doesn’t possess any chlorophyll or green pigments, it can’t photosynthesize to produce its own food and thus, can’t survive. Photosynthesis plays a vital role in a plant’s life. This process allows plants to produce glucose which supplies energy to plants necessary for their survival. This explains why moon cactus needs a graft host – which is usually a dragon fruit stem.

Star Rock Cactus

The star rock cactus derived its name from its appearance which looks like a star. This succulent from the cactus family produces pink flowers right from the youngest areoles found at the center of the plant. Areoles refer to the center of a plant where flowers, spines or new branches emerge. These flowers come in funnel shapes that grow between one to two inches in diameter. The flowers usually bloom from August to November. However, like other cacti, it comes in various species. This means, aside from pink flowers, this succulent also bears white, yellow or purple flowers.

Star Rock Cactus

A native of Texas and Mexico, the star rock cactus grows well in soil with a generous amount of limestone content. To encourage this succulent to bloom more pink flowers, place your plant in a place with direct morning sunlight. The temperature should range from 70 degrees Fahrenheit to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Along with providing sunlight, make sure your star rock cactus gets enough watering. However, make sure that the soil is dry before watering it. Also, give your cactus a fertilizer rich in phosphorus as it supports transporting the energy throughout your cactus for effective blooming.

Dwarf Easter Cactus

The Dwarf Easter Cactus starts blooming between March and May. The buds begin to appear when the days become warmer and longer. After spring, move your succulent outside to locations with a generous amount of shade to encourage its blooming in the next year. On rare occasions, it flowers again from September to November or during the autumn. This cactus bears rich rose-pink flowers with a pleasant smell. The flowers have sizes between one to two inches in diameter and when the flowers come in mass, they look even more stunning. 

Dwarf Easter Cactus

Although related, the Dwarf Easter Cactus slightly differs from the regular Easter Cactus. As the name suggests, the Dwarf Easter Cactus come with smaller flowers and joints compared to the regular Easter Cactus. Also, you can more easily grow the regular Easter Cactus than its mini counterpart – which is the Dwarf Easter Cactus. While the Dwarf Easter Cactus becomes known for its pink flowers, the regular Easter Cactus flowers come in bright red color.

Dwarf Turk’s Cap Cactus

Known for its cephalium, the Dwarf Turk’s Cap Cactus blooms pink flowers. Cephalium refers to the cap-like feature of the succulent that sticks out on top and comes in red-orange or pink color. It doesn’t just offer a distinct look to the succulent but it has a purpose. This cephalium, commonly known as its cap, produces pink flowers that later develop into edible fruits with shapes that look like peppers. The flowers start to appear in July to August and the size reaches two inches long inside the mass of the succulent’s famous cap. 

Dwarf Turk’s Cap Cactus’ Cephalium with Pink Flowers

The Dwarf Turk’s Cap Cactus derives its name from its unique feature – its cap. The cap resembles the fez or hat worn by the Turkish people that can be traced back to during the Ottoman Empire. This cactus is challenging to grow because it requires specific care that is best left in the hands of experts. 

The Dwarf Turk’s Cap Cactus requires a temperature above 70 degrees Fahrenheit. It won’t flourish well under minimum sunlight exposure, it requires direct sunlight for at least six hours. This succulent also needs plenty of water but not too much that it might cause the root to rot. However, growing this type of cactus feels rewarding once you see those vibrant pink flowers that give it a more attractive look.

Ball Cactus Flower

Ball cactus bears pink flowers from late June to September or during the summer. Aside from the pink color, the ball cactus flower comes in different colors such as red, orange or yellow. Let your succulent relish the winter period and stop watering it to stimulate better-blooming flowers. In addition, ensure your ball cactus gets fertilized during its growing season for better results.

Ball cactus has two types – both bear pink flowers. The first one is the powder puff cactus. The reason for its name comes from the fine hairs that cover its spines. Another type is called the golden ball cactus. As its name suggests, the golden ball cactus has a round shape with golden spines. The golden ball cactus reaches up to six feet when it matures.

Ball Cactus Flower

Pink Christmas Cactus

Christmas cactus blooms from November to January or during the fall season. Its flowers always come in shades of pink with shapes that look like tubes. The petals appear in a double-layer manner – the inner petals grow further up near the stamen while the outer petals come shorter and curl down to the base of the flower. The Christmas cactus blooming stage can reach up to eight weeks if the temperature maintains 68 degrees Fahrenheit.

Pink Christmas Cactus Flower

To encourage your Christmas cactus to bloom, focus on the light and temperature you provide to your plant. Temperature-wise, place your plant in a cool environment not exceeding 61 degrees Fahrenheit. Avoid putting your Christmas cactus in places with direct cold air or hot air. When it comes to light, the Christmas cactus needs an exposure of eight hours of light and 16 hours of darkness every day. 

Take note that light and temperature are the key factors in hacking the blooming season of this plant – yes, you can trick your Christmas cactus to flower even outside its flowering season by mainly focusing on these two factors.

Pink Flower Hedgehog Cactus

The pink flower hedgehog cactus starts to bloom from March to June. Tepals refer to the outer part of the flower when it is not distinguishable if it is a petal or a sepal. The flowers appear anywhere from rose pink to magenta, and the tepals appear rose-pink to magenta. Each plant bears six to 10 large flowers. The flowers are funnel-shaped and grow on the upper part of the plant. They bloom during the day and close at night.

Pink Flower Hedgehog Cactus

The pink flower hedgehog cactus’ name gets coined due to its short and spiny stems that look like a hedgehog. Just like any other cacti, it comes in varieties of species. Aside from its pink flowers, this cactus also comes in different colors like violet. Eventually, these pink flowers turn into edible fruits that appear spiny and red.

Walking Stick Cholla Cactus

Walking Stick Cholla

The walking stick cholla cactus varies in colored flowers depending on its location. In Bandelier, New Mexico, the walking stick cholla always bears pink flowers. This cactus starts to bloom from April to June. It has small flowers with striking pink petals and a touch of magenta. These pink flowers come in bow shapes and range from two to three inches in diameter. Aside from the pink flowers, the walking stick cholla flowers come in a wide array of colors such as yellow, red or purple.

Many people convey a fascination with this walking stick cholla because of its unique features. It possesses arms that get detached easily from its main body. This cactus plant gets its reputation as the jumping cholla because of its segmented arms that easily stick to the clothes or skin of a passerby. 

Pincushion Cactus

You can always find a pincushion cactus bloom with pink flowers since it’s the most common. It also bears white or striking reddish-orange flowers aside from pink. This cactus is a native of the Sonoran Desert, located in southern Arizona and a small area in southeastern California, but largely in Mexico. 

Pincushion cactus blooms from May to August. One fascinating thing about the pincushion cactus flowers is that they grow around the cactus’ apex – forming a flower-crown-like appearance. 

The pincushion cactus has a very spiny surface that entirely covers its surface – the reason why it is called that way. In other words, it looks like a cushion full of pins. When handling this cactus, it’s best to use gloves because this cactus possesses fine tiny spines that stick to your skin and are hard to remove. 

Pincushion Cactus

This cactus remains small as it never grows more than six inches in height. If you want an indoor cactus that bears beautiful pink flowers, the pincushion cactus makes an ideal choice for its small size, aesthetic and low-maintenance. In keeping this cactus indoors, maintain a warm temperature between 60 to 71 degrees Fahrenheit.

Does a Cactus Have Pink Flowers or Yellow Flowers?

Cactus flowers come in an array of colors – that includes pink and yellow. However, the mentioned two colors are more common as you can easily spot different cacti that bear pink and yellow colors. Aside from pink and yellow, you can also find cactus that bears flowers in various colors such as red, orange and white. 

What dictates the flower color is the plant’s DNA. For example, when a cactus produces a pink flower, the petals produce pigments that absorb pink light. This phenomenon happens when the DNA of the plant’s cell produces pigments of a specific color. To sum it up, the plant pigmentation and the genetics of the cactus species direct the color of the flower.

What Kind of Cactus has a Pink Flower?

Not all pink cactus flowers are the same kind. Cacti with pink flowers come in different species – chollas are an example. However, not all chollas bear pink flowers; the flowers come in a wide variety of colors too. The pincushion cactus is another kind of cactus that bears pink flowers.

How Do You Take Care of a Pink Flower Cactus?

Taking care of cactus with pink flowers is similar to other cacti with different flowers. Make sure the cactus grows on well-drained soil, provide enough sunlight exposure of at least eight hours, but do not overwater your cactus and keep the temperature between 60 to 71 degrees Fahrenheit.

Conclusion

Cacti with pink flowers are not rare to find. You only have to look for the right species as each species comes with flowers in different colors. These vibrant pink cactus flowers feel rewarding once in full bloom. Most importantly, pick a cactus that is suitable for your knowledge because not all cactus are the same in caring needs. Some cactus require special needs that might need more of an expert care.

How To Pollinate Lithops

After three years of waiting, your lithops finally bear flowers. As a first-time plant owner, you want to know how growers get seeds of these incredible succulents. To produce seeds, flowering plants such as lithops must undergo pollination.

How to pollinate lithops? Lithops pollinate through cross-pollination. To perform cross-pollination, transfer the pollen grains of one lithop to another lithop. You can do this with lithops of the same species because cross-pollination with another species doesn’t succeed. 

Keep on reading because we will cover different topics related to lithops pollination.

How to Cross-pollinate Lithops

Lithops pollination involves easy steps, but first, prepare the following materials:

  • Small paintbrush or plant-pollinator
  • Two pots of lithops plant with flowers of the same species

Next, follow these steps in performing cross-pollination.

  • Using the paintbrush, gently dab the tip of the brush to the anthers of the flowers. The yellow part at the center of the flower holds the pollen grains. Dab the brush three to five times to ensure the pollen grains stick to the tip of the paintbrush.
  • Dab the tip of the brush to the anther of the second plant gently. By doing this, the pollen grains of the current flower transfer to the paintbrush’s end tip.
  • Return to dab the brush to the first lithops flower. By doing this, you transfer the pollen of one lithop to the second lithop.
  • Set aside your two lithops and wait for the seeds to develop and form. 

Make sure to place the pollinated plants away from external factors that may disrupt the seeds’ development.

When Do Lithops Bloom?

You can expect your lithops to bear flowers in late November. Some species bloom between March and May or around summer from June to August. It takes three to five years before lithops bear flowers.

The flowers appear like a daisy with white petals and yellow at the center.

When it flowers, you will notice a small bud pushing its way out between the two leaves. Flowers open at 12 in the afternoon and last for a few hours. Before the sun sets, lithop flowers close.

Do Lithops Self-Pollinate?

Lithops don’t self-pollinate. Self-pollination happens when a flower places its pollen to its own anther, or of another flower in the same plant. In the case of lithops, you need to cross-pollinate two plants to have successful pollination. Insects cross-pollinate this plant in the wild. 

Self-pollination doesn’t happen to some plants like lithops. The stigma of the lithops flower matures before the pollen does and sheds off. It means it needs pollen from another plant. This plant develops such a mechanism to avoid self-pollination.

What Happens to Lithops After Pollination

After they bloom and pollinate, lithops will stay dormant for a long time until they bear flowers again. New leaves will start to grow in the spring. Old leaves shrivel as young leaves begin to push themselves out of the center of the old ones.

Lithops undergo dormancy as an act of survival. With extreme heat and little to no rain in the wild during summer months, lithops rest to preserve their water content. This characteristic shows why they can last the summer without withering.

During the lithops’ dormancy period, watering them makes little sense. Leave them along during this season. Water will cause them to rot. However, if signs of withering become visible such as shriveling, moisten the soil. Don’t pour too much water as it will kill your lithops mercilessly.

When To Expect Seeds After Pollination

Seed development after pollination takes a while. It takes between eight to nine months for the seeds to develop into grown seeds. If your lithops grow flowers in March, you can expect seeds around November or December.

A capsule-like chamber wraps these seeds, and these capsule chambers make five to six compartments. In a single flower, you can harvest plenty of seeds. These chambers open when wet — hydrochastic. To get the seeds, you need to soak these chambers in water and scrape the seeds out. 

In the wild, these capsules open when the rainwater wets them. When open, the raindrops scatter the seeds around. After two to 12 weeks, these seeds germinate and grow into another generation of lithops.

Related Questions

How Do You Breed Lithops?

The most common way of reproducing lithops is through seeds. You can also reproduce them by replanting their pups or division. However, lithops grow slowly, why people prefer growing them from seeds over divisions.

How Do You Get Lithops To Flower?

Take note that the shortest timespan before lithops flower take three years. After that, you can encourage them to bloom by adding fertilizer to their soil. 

Do Lithops Die After Flowering?

Lithops don’t die after flowering. However, these succulents undergo a long period of dormancy. Lithops can live for up to 50 years.

Conclusion

To wrap it up, you can pollinate lithops using the cross-pollination process. You can do this by transferring pollen from one plant to another plant of the same species. Always remember that self-pollination won’t work on lithops.

Lithops bloom during early summer, some species bloom during winter or even late autumn. The flowers bloom in the early afternoon and close before dusk. You can expect seeds nine months after pollination. After bloom, lithops undergo a period of dormancy in the early summer months.

You can never go wrong with Lithops, the development of this succulent plant may be slow, but it’s all going to be worth it.

Why Are My Cactus Spines Turning Yellow?

So, you initially bought a cactus with white spines, but later on, it turned yellow. You might think something is wrong with it, or perhaps you think it might indicate an unhealthy growth. Do not panic yet! Not all cactus that exhibit color change through their spines mean something is wrong with your little plant.

Why are my cactus spines turning yellow? Cactus spines change their color depending on the variety, and it is perfectly natural. Cactus variety such as Mammillaria Elongata exhibits yellow spines and depending on its type, some may be red, and some may be brown. It should not alarm you as a first-time plant owner. As long as the cactus itself does not turn yellow, it should not be a problem.

What If the Cactus Itself Turns Yellow?

When you notice that your whole cactus is turning yellow, that is the time to be alarmed. It is a big sign that your cactus is dying. So, it is better to detect the problem early than to regret it later. There are several reasons why your cactus is turning yellow.

Inappropriate Watering – This type of problem refers to the overwatering or underwatering of the cactus plant. Any inadequacy of the water intake of your cactus plant can contribute to the problem. Make sure you carefully watch the amount of water you give your plant.

Pests Infestation – What leads to the insect infestation problem? One possible answer is the one we discussed above – overwatering. Moisture on the soil invites different kinds of fungus and bacteria to the roots that multiply later on. That is the start of the infestation. You can notice your cactus getting wobbly and yellow at the base.

Mineral-Deficient Soil – Again, I will emphasize the importance of using the right soil for your cactus and other succulent plants. Sand alone is not enough. It must contain minerals that are necessary for its healthy growth, such as potassium, phosphorous, and nitrogen. You can achieve this by using readily-made soil mix, but you can look it up online for instructions and mix it on your own. You can use fertilizers too.

Sudden Change of Environment – This problem usually happens when you just bought your cactus, and it exhibits yellow color. The sudden change in its environment gives a shock to your cactus. The best thing you can do is to take care of it properly, do the things that can make it adjust to its new environments, such as appropriate watering, adjustment to exposure to sunlight, and re-pot if you needed to.


Why Is My Cactus Plant Turning Yellow At The Base?

Yellowing at the base of your cactus plant is a sign that your cactus is dying. It may have been caused by overwatering or underwatering. If it is overwatered, check your soil. Did you use well-drained soil? What about the pot? Does it have enough holes for drainage? The other problem is the underwatering of your plant. Just because it is a cactus, you can neglect it for up to a week or longer without it dying. Make sure you check the soil to see if it is entirely dry. There is no exact timeline on when to water your cactus. If you notice that its soil is becoming very dry, water your cactus right away.


Can I still Save My Yellowing Cactus?

The answer depends on the extent of the damage. For example, if it turned yellowish due to sunburn, you can still save it. The first thing you need to do is to remove it away from the spot where it got sunburned. Second, water your cactus a little bit extra than what you usually do. It will help your cactus repair the damage caused by the sunburn. And lastly, make sure it gets protection from other threats such as bug infestation.

On the other hand, overwatering is a threatening issue. It leads to root rot. When your cactus roots start to rot, there is no way you can save it. That is why it is essential to use well-draining soil in a pot with good drainage.


Are There Yellow Varieties of Cactus?

Yellow varieties of cactus do exist. One example is the California Barrel Cactus. This type of cactus has a long yellow body that is very distinct and covered with spines. This cactus is a native of deserts’ Mojave and Sonoran in the United States. Aside from California Barrel Cactus, there are also other classified yellow cactus such as the Golden Barrel Cactus and Balloon Cactus. These two latter mentioned were actually green in body but heavily engulfed with yellow spines.

Yellowing spines are natural. It depends on the variety of cactus. On the other hand, if the whole cactus plant is turning yellow, that is something to watch. It is a dangerous sign that your cactus is dying. It is crucial to watch over your cactus and detect the early signs and correct the cause before it is too late. Want to make your cactus room official? Add this sweet LED neon green cactus sign to your room. It looks fantastic!

Can Snake Plants Survive without Sunlight?

Are you a forgetful plant owner? Let’s say you take some of your plants indoors and often forget about them. Or are you tired of taking your plants in and out from your house because you are afraid they might die with the absence of sunlight? Worry not because I am going to share with you one species of indoor plant that is suitable for this kind of problem and how you can help them stay alive indoors.

Snake Plants Can Survive A Few Weeks With No Sunlight?

Snake plants can survive for a few weeks without sunlight. These hard, sharp-pointed-leaf and sword-like plants can maintain their fresh and tough look for quite a long time. They prefer indirect exposure to sunlight because exposing them under the scourging heat of the summer sun can lead them to their deathbeds, but they can adjust to high heat too. 

Wait… sounds confusing? I know, but putting them directly under the sun all day everyday and putting them in a place where high temperatures exist can be two different things.

Our indoor environment is usually shady and has less sunlight penetration. While this type of condition is not a problem to snake plants, be sure not to neglect them forever. 

Snake Plants Are One of the Best Indoor Plants

Their ability to withstand the absence of sunlight for a long time is one of the several things that make them the best plant to have indoors. You do not need to worry everyday whether they are taken out or not, nor worry if you watered them or not.

Yes, aside from the fact that snake plants can maintain their vibrant look, they can survive without water for weeks as well. 

Another reason and maybe the most beneficial one is their ability to purify the air from inside of our apartment, be it the living room or the bedroom. The air indoors is five times more polluted than the air outside, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency’s study. 

A different study conducted by NASA in 1989 about the purifying abilities of indoor plants shows that the presence of these plants can clean the air inside your home by 90% in 24 hours. They can prevent cancer too, no joke!

Their awesome air-purifying ability can eliminate carcinogenic agents floating in the air. These carcinogens are causing cancer so having snake plants in your home is health wise.

You Can Use Artificial Lights as a Substitute for Sunlight.

There are several sources of artificial lights available at home, such as fluorescent, incandescent and LED or light-emitting diodes that can be used as a substitute for sunlight. Giving these plants any artificial lighting is not enough.

First, we need to have a deeper understanding of lights in order to give our plants the best one and not to harm them.

Light is a spectrum of different colors so we need to know whether these light colors affect the growth and development of the plants. If so, what colors in the light spectrum are good for them?

According to Science, there are three colors in the light spectrum that are good for the plants’ growth and development. These are green, red and blue. Among these, red and blue are the best source of energy for plants. The blue color in the light spectrum is responsible for plants’ food production. It helps plants grow fast and healthy.

On the other hand, the red color from the light spectrum is the key for the production of their fruits and flowers.

Now, we know that red and blue colors in the light spectrum are the most useful colors for our indoor plants. Next, we will talk about the best source of these light colors using the artificial lights found at home. 

There are several artificial light sources that can be found at home, and these include fluorescent and incandescent light bulbs and light-emitting diodes, also known as LED. Diodes are semiconductors with two terminals but only allow the flow of electric current to one side. 

LEDs usually come in different colors. If we compare these lights, fluorescent light is a better source of blue and red colors from the light spectrum, compared to incandescent light bulbs. Fluorescent light bulbs emit a balance of both blue and red lights while incandescent light bulbs mainly emit red light colors.

How about LED lights? Well, the beautiful thing about LED lights is they are customizable. You can specifically customize blue or red or both with LED lights to give to your snake plants living inside your house. 

How to Care for your Snake Plants Indoors

Taking care for your snake plants is not that hard at all. After all, they are known as tough to kill plants. They grow best when you just leave them there in the corner, no strings attached. 

In fact, they will reward you for that by being just as evergreen as they are. When you plant them, the basic thing you need to remember is to plant them in a well-draining pot with a well-draining soil.

As we have mentioned earlier, they can live without sunlight for weeks, but make sure you do not deprive them of it when the time comes. Do not water them too much if you let them sit indoors. 

The absence of sunlight will slow down their food production; this means less absorption of water. If you water them too much, you are drowning them. When winter comes, it is best to just leave them alone by giving them water once in a while. Watering them less does not just end there.

One common mistake we often do – whether we admit it or not, we pour water to the center of our snake plants where the new leaves are sprouting. It is a big no-no. This will cause rotting – don’t be a troublemaker plant momma. 

Put them in a place where your pets or little kids cannot reach them. The reason for this is not just to keep your plants from damage, but these plants contain toxic elements which can cause poisoning when their leaves are eaten. They are not very poisonous but these plants can cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. 

As a summary, snake plants can thrive in an environment with no sunlight – for a few weeks. This is a good plant characteristic for someone who often forgets about their plants because aside from that, they do not need to be watered very often. 

They are one of the best indoor plants to have because aside from their ability to live being neglected for a long time, they are beneficial to human health by purifying the air we breathe.

They consider artificial lights as a substitute for sunlight while they grow in one of the corners of your house. They are very low maintenance plants to have. Their toughness as a plant is super awesome because they cannot wither easily. 

Even superheroes have their weaknesses…so do the snake plants, so it is necessary to know the basic yet important knowledge to help them start out as a plant such as planting them in soil with well-drainage and observing the proper way of watering them.