AgEBB-MU CAFNR Extension

David Burton
Civic Communications Specialist
2400 S. Scenic Ave.
Springfield, MO 65807

December 8, 2017

Recommendations for Taking
Care of a Christmas Cactus

MARSHFIELD, Mo. - The Christmas cactus is a popular holiday gift plant. It is also the subject of debate among gardeners with regards to care, maintenance, and how to get them to rebloom.

"While this plant is indeed a cactus, it is actually a tropical plant that thrives in conditions that we do not usually associate with cactus," said Patrick Byers, horticulture specialist with University of Missouri Extension.

If received as a gift, Christmas cactus should be placed in a sunny window. Avoid areas with hot drafts (heat vents, fireplaces) because that will cause the buds to drop. Find a window in a cooler room and the blossoms will hold longer.

While in bloom, water the plant when the top inch of the soil is dry. Don't overwater the plant.

When the blossoms drop, the plant begins a resting period. Keep the plant on the dry side, but water if the leaves shrivel. When new growth resumes, resume more frequent watering.

During the summer, a Christmas cactus will thrive outdoors, but be sure to place the plant in a shady or semi-shady spot. Water as needed to keep the plant from shriveling.

"Christmas cactus are short day plants. They set blossoms in response to long nights (12 hours of darkness) and short days. This happens naturally in the fall, as long as you don't keep your plant under artificial light," said Byers.

Exposing a Christmas cactus to cool temperatures (50-55°F) will also encourage blossoming, so leave the plant outside as temperatures cool in the fall. Bring the plant indoors gradually when temps get too cold, and keep in a cool, bright window.

"If you follow these steps you will be rewarded with a lovely burst of flowers in time for the holidays," said Byers.

Find more information on gardening online at

Source: Patrick Byers, (417) 859-2044

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