Here's How Often You Should Be Watering Your Christmas Cactus

The Christmas cactus is different from a typical cactus in many ways. Instead of being native to the desert, this cactus lives in the rainforest. Being a tropical plant makes its needs opposite from what you think about cacti. Home & Garden Information Center explains that the Christmas cactus is an epiphyte, meaning that it grows on trees under the shadow of their canopies in the rainforest. Leaving this plant out in direct sunlight will burn its foliage, so provide it with light shade. 

It also prefers warmer weather and lots of humidity. During the growing season, 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit is best. Then in the winter, a cool 55 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit will allow it to bloom. These flowers come in red, pink, purple, orange, and white, and what makes the Christmas cactus so unique is its flowers bloom in the winter, unlike most plants. It also needs way more water than the average cactus, so plant it in well-draining soil to prevent root rot. Making your own soil with 80% potting mix and 20% perlite gives the roots room for air and excess water to flow out of the pot. But how often should you water your Christmas cactus?

Water every 2 to 3 weeks

Even though cactus is in the name, this plant needs much more water than you think. They like slightly moist soil, so make sure you water them often and thoroughly once the soil starts to dry. You can determine if your Christmas cactus needs water by testing the soil with your finger or a pencil. Push the pencil ⅓ of the way into the pot, and if it's dry when you take it out, you should water your plant. 

It's important that you give Christmas cacti the right amount of water because too little won't moisten the soil, and too much will drown the roots. To water it properly, continue adding more until it comes out of the drainage holes. Wait about 10 to 15 minutes for all the excess to come out, and empty the saucer. The Almanac recommends watering your Christmas cactus every 2 to 3 weeks, although you should always check the potting mix before doing so.

What if your Christmas cactus is blooming?

Christmas cacti are known for their beautiful blooms, but how you water your plant affects how it flowers. Once flower buds appear, it's time to change how you care for your plant. To promote flower growth, you should water your Christmas cactus more frequently. However, it is best to continue giving it the same amount of moisture. The Chicago Botanic Garden explains that if the plant gets too much water while developing buds, it will drop them and not flower that season. Another reason for dropping buds is moving the location of the plant.

After growing buds, they will bloom for the next 4 to 6 weeks, and each flower lives for 6 to 9 days before it drops. Pay attention to the growth cycle, so you will know when the blooming season is over. When the flowers fall, and no new ones grow, you can return to the usual watering schedule.