What's wrong with my Christmas cactus?

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It's over 30 yrs old and over the years has bloomed nicely every year. For a while it was near Christmas but then changed to Thanksgiving. It lives on my deck in the summer and has sun and shade, depending on the time of day. I've never done anything special to it other than water it if we had a dry summer. This past summer was pretty rainy so I'm not sure I ever watered it. I brought it inside about week ago when we were expecting low 30s temps. That's when I noticed the huge change in color in some of the green segments. This has never happened before. They've always remained their normal green.


Last year, for the first time, I got only two blooms. This year, I don't have any buds. I want my gorgeous blooms again. I read online that to make them bloom, they need to have many hours without light, but I've never done that except for them to have the night darkness while outside. What can I do? Should I start by cutting off the discolored parts? And if so, then what? Is it just too old to continue blooming?

q what s wrong with my christmas cactus
  22 answers
  • Debra E Holcombe Debra E Holcombe on Nov 20, 2021

    Hi Happy Thanksgiving, if you get an answer on, please let me know as well. Thanks debbie

  • The color change could be from too much sun. Blooming usually depends on watering and the amount of light it receives. Here's a link with more information:

    https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/ornamental/cacti-succulents/christmas-cactus/how-to-make-a-christmas-cactus-bloom.htm

  • Annie Annie on Nov 20, 2021

    Mine has done that as well, although mine stays inside year round. I let those parts die, then cut them off. Could it be that it got too cool outside then got to warm when you brought it in?


    I literally give mine hardly any water and it is blooming now. Sometimes blooms twice a year. I think yours will be ok, it's just stressed.

    • Louise Louise on Nov 20, 2021

      The color had changed prior to my bringing it inside. I did nothing differently this year or last from what I've done for the past many years, yet it stopped blooming. 😪

  • Redcatcec Redcatcec on Nov 20, 2021

    Here's a really helpful link with suggestions about what is going on and what you can do:


    https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/ornamental/cacti-succulents/christmas-cactus/purple-christmas-cactus-leaves.htm


  • Betsy Betsy on Nov 20, 2021

    Hi Louise: No, it's not too old at all. I have my grandmothers Christmas Cactus and she got it when she moved her in 1916! It still blooms it's little heart out, but sometimes forgets when it's time to do so. Sometimes it's Thanksgiving, sometimes Christmas and sometimes Valentines day. I keep it inside all year round and it gets indirect light, never direct sun and a bit of fertilizer won't hurt. I have cuttings (all over the place!) and those that get direct sun turn purple or reddish. The only time I cut off a branch or leaf is when it looks like it's dying. Other than keeping it out of the direct sun and near a cold window, they do o.k. If you pinch off a leaf and stick it in dirt, it will grow a new plant. Here's a site that should help you with your cactus:


    https://www.gardenloversclub.com/houseplants/christmas-cactus/how-to-feed-christmas-cactus/#:~:text=Throughout%20the%20season%2C%20the%20best%20type%20of%20fertilizer,water%20so%20that%20feeding%20the%20plant%20becomes%20simple.


    And, I hate to break this to you, but that's not a Christmas Cactus :) Believe it or not, it's a Thanksgiving Cactus. Really, I'm not kidding! There's even an Easter Cactus! :)


    https://www.thespruce.com/thanksgiving-cactus-care-guide-5199419


    https://www.houseplant411.com/askjudy/how-to-care-for-a-thanksgiving-cactus#:~:text=fertilizer%20%3A%20Feed%20a%20Thanksgiving%20Cactus%20monthly%20from,around%20September.%20Use%20a%20balanced%2C%20water%20soluble%20fertilizer


    Easter cactus

    https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/ornamental/cacti-succulents/easter-cactus/caring-for-easter-cactus.htm


    Learn something new every day, huh ? :)


    Hope this helped

  • Would it perhaps need some fertilizer to help spruce it up? I also found this helpful video (altho yours looks much healthier than the example in it!): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZTNkDZvavdk

  • Homeroad Homeroad on Nov 20, 2021

    I think it is getting too much sun.


  • Vimarhonor Vimarhonor on Nov 20, 2021

    Wow thats much longer than I have ever had one.

    Hope you find your solution meanwhile ….Ill be sure collect some tips here.

  • Michelle Leslie Michelle Leslie on Nov 21, 2021

    Hi Louise, ours does that when they get too much direct sunlight. We have a big one hanging in a tree. She stays outside all year (I stay in S Africa so she doesn't need to come inside in Winter) and we trimmed a few branches from the tree, not thinking about how it would impact the light factor, and her leaves all started turning browny purple. It could also be because she's outgrown her current pot. You can transplant her into a slightly larger pot. Don't go too big, the extra space stresses them out. Use light, porous, humus-rich soil that will hold some moisture and drain well. They prefer coarse soil that's slightly acidic. Oh, and they are never too old to bloom. She'll recover, she looks healthy and happy.

  • Maura White Maura White on Nov 22, 2021

    I wonder if it got over watered b/c of the rainy season. I'd cut away the discolored portions and give it some fertilizer. It's lacking a nutrient for sure.

  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 on Nov 24, 2021

    Check it out for Mealy Bug (Tiny white bits, or check the roots for damage/bugs.

  • Maybe too much sunlight. I would cut off those parts and cut back on water so the soil is just damp.

  • Lindsay Aratari Lindsay Aratari on Nov 25, 2021

    Could just be a new stage of the plant. Climate change or light change. It should be ok!

  • Simple Nature Decor Simple Nature Decor on Nov 25, 2021

    To much water, that’s how my caucus got from to much water.

  • Janice Janice 7 days ago

    Perhaps too much water. Give it a break before rewatering....then some time. It's a hardy plant.

  • Dee Dee 7 days ago

    Wilted or limp Christmas cactus is sometimes caused by a lack of water or too much direct sunlight. If you’ve neglected to water the limp Christmas cactus, begin by giving the plant a limited drink. Continue to water sparingly every few days until the soil is lightly moist. Soil that is too wet causes Christmas cactus problems too. As an epiphyte in its native home on the tropical forest floor, the Christmas cactus absorbs water and nutrients from the air, and as such can’t handle soggy roots. Poor drainage and soggy roots can make Christmas cactus very limp. If your wilted or limp Christmas cactus has leaves that appear to be parched or scorched, move it to an area with more shade, particularly in the afternoon. Reviving a Limp Christmas Cactus When the Christmas cactus is very limp and the soil is soggy, re-pot into fresh soil. Remove the limp Christmas cactus from the pot and gently remove as much soil as possible. Avoid future Christmas cactus problems by mixing your own soil for repotting. Use a good quality potting soil at two parts potting soil to one part sand or vermiculite, assuring sharp drainage. Even if the soil is not soggy, repotting may be the solution to reviving a limp Christmas cactus. While the plant likes to be tight in the pot, moving it to a slightly larger container with fresh soil every few years helps avoid Christmas cactus problems.Read more at Gardening Know How: Christmas Cactus Problems – Tips For Reviving A Limp Christmas Cactus

  • Mogie Mogie 7 days ago

    Unlike desert-loving cacti that are drought resistant, the holiday cactus is a tropical rainforest native. Temperature-wise, the holiday cactus is a bit picky. During its peak growth months (April to September), it prefers balmy temperatures between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Once the buds are set, it requires low nighttime temperatures (between 55 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit) and at least 13 hours of darkness to flower.

    While it can withstand lower temps it thrives in warmer temps.

  • Mine looked like that before. You should consider putting it into a bigger pot. Maybe it has gotten root bound if you haven't repotted in a while.

    Once a month, I rip the foil off a used coffee pod and sprinkle the grounds into the plant. I'm located in the Northeast and my cactus seems to like the added pep to the soil.

    You said you moved it. Mine tends to bleach out like that when it gets too much direct sunlight. Maybe its new spot has stronger sun than it did previously.

    Your green pieces look nice and plump so I think your water schedule is on target and you shouldn't change that.

  • Dee Dee 5 days ago

    Problem #1: Your Christmas Cactus’ Leaves are Limp & Droopy

    Cause #1: There are two different reasons why your Christmas cactus’ leaves are limp and droopy. The first reason is if it is currently flowering. Producing flowers takes a lot of energy away from the plant and many people have said that their plants become droopy during and just after flowering.

    Care: If this is you, then simply wait until your plant has finished flowering, then make sure to let it rest for a few weeks with no fertilizer and only little water. Only water it when the soil is dry to the touch. After these few weeks, you can then resume your care as normal.

    Cause #2: The second reason for limp or droopy leaves is because of improper watering. This is also a cause for wilted or shriveled leaves. So if your plant’s leaves are limp and droopy, and it isn’t currently flowering, then improper watering is the cause.

    Problem #2: Your Christmas Cactus’ Leaves are Shriveled or Wilted

    Cause: Christmas cactus leaves will wilt and shrivel up when the leaves aren’t getting enough water due to improper watering. This can be from either over-watering or under-watering. Feel the soil several inches below the soil surface, or use a soil moisture meter to determine if your soil has been kept too wet or too dry.

    Care #1: If your soil is too wet, then you will most likely have damaged roots. You should immediately re-pot your Christmas cactus into fresh soil that is only lightly moist. While re-potting, trim off any black or mushy roots and pour hydrogen peroxide over the root system. This will kill any remaining bacteria before you place it into fresh soil. Also, take stem cuttings at this time to propagate, following the directions in Christmas Cactus Propagation. This will ensure that even if your plants’ roots die, you will still have cuttings to re-grow your Christmas cactus.

    Care #2: On the flip side, if your plant is too dry, then you will need to slowly increase the moisture levels over a few days. Slowly bring it from bone dry back to lightly moist. You will know you’ve been successful when your plant’s leaves perk back up! Just be sure that you don’t end up over-watering your plant at this time. Remember, let it barely dry out before you water it again.

    Also note that if your plant’s soil is hard and difficult to press your fingers into, then you will need to re-pot your plant into fresh, well-draining soil, such as a cactus and succulent soil or a regular soil mixed with additional sand or perlit