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.

terra cotta pots in various sizes

Related article: Best Pot for Christmas Cactus


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.
reddish brown plastic pots filled with soil mixture


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.
a watering tin can on top of a log

Related article: Can Christmas Cactus Survive Outside?


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. 

blue sky with light gray clouds and a sun shining brightly

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


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


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.

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