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What Causes Christmas Cactus Leaves To Turn Orange?

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Plants change color in reaction to environmental & cultural stress. My client's Christmas Cactus had totally turned orange. See what caused this to happen & what I did to fix it.
what causes christmas cactus leaves to turn orange

Christmas Cactus are commonly sold at holiday time, but did you know they make long lasting houseplants? I find them extremely easy to grow both indoors and outdoors and mine always flower once a year usually twice.


They’re fabulous as can be, but like all plants, issues and problems can arise. The leaves of my client’s Christmas Cactus had turned orange and I thought writing this post was just too good an opportunity to pass up.

what causes christmas cactus leaves to turn orange

Let’s get a bit technical for those of you who geek out on all things plant like me.  The Christmas Cactus that you see here and in the video is actually a Thanksgiving (or Crab) Cactus. It was labeled as a CC when I bought it and that’s how it’s commonly sold in the trade.


Nowadays you may see them labeled as Holiday Cactus. Regardless of which one you have, this can happen to any of them.

what causes christmas cactus leaves to turn orange

Because they like protection from full sun, Christmas Cactus can also turn orange/brown/bronze exposed to too much of it. Yellow leaves can also signal too much sun or too much water. My Thanksgiving Cactus grew outside in Santa Barbara and would tinge burgundy/purple in the winter months in reaction to the cooler temps.


When I first arrived at my client’s house in early December, the poor Thanksgiving Cactus was lying on its side on the other end of the front porch. She lives close to the Pacific so at least it gets some moisture from the fog. I think that’s what has kept it alive!


I watered it well by soaking the root ball in a bowl grow pot and all. I transplanted it into a slightly bigger pot (the only one closely suitable that I could find in the garage) which was a much heavier ceramic than the thin plastic pot it was in. She had an assortment of orchid planting mixes so I used the ones you see above in a 1:1 ratio.


FYI: My own Thanksgiving Cactus needs to be transplanted in a bad way. It  put out a 2nd bloom last year in late February/early March so I want to see if that’s going to happen again this year. Plus, I’m going to wait until the evening temps warm up and we’re closer to Spring. Stay tuned for that one – I use a special planting blend that these popular plants love.

Suggested materials:

  • Christmas Cactus
  • Gardening Tools
Joy Us garden

Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!

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