What’s the Best Pot for a Christmas Cactus?

The Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera bridgesii) is highly sensitive to the size and drainage of a pot. They thrive when the roots are pot-bound in well-draining soil. A poorly draining soil or pot is known to cause root rot.

So, what is the best pot for a Christmas cactus?

A good pot for Christmas cactus must be small, 5 to 6 inches, and have drainage holes at the bottom. Clay platters are considered better than plastic as their porous nature provides for the free flow of air and moisture around the plant roots.

The Christmas cactus is native to tropical Brazilian rainforests, where they grow as epiphytic plants on tree branches and rocks. Decomposing trapped plant materials like leaves and bark acts as their soil.

Christmas cacti make great houseplants for the Christmas holidays due to their profuse blooming during the winter. However, they require good care to remain healthy and vibrant. Ideally, replicating their native conditions makes it easy to grow them.

Christmas cactus pot
Terracotta Christmas cactus pot

The best pot for a Christmas cactus

If you decide to plant or repot a Christmas cactus, use a well-draining potting media. The pots should have drainage holes at the bottom where excess water can drain through. Since Christmas cactus thrives in small quarters, the pot has to be small-sized, preferably 5 or 6 inches.

Unlike heat-loving desert cactus that can survive without water, a Christmas cactus thrives in constant moisture around its stems and roots. However, this plant dislikes wet conditions, especially around the roots.

When water occupies all the air pockets in the soil, the roots drown due to a lack of oxygen. This is likely to result in the death of the plant as all the supplies to the plant are stopped.

Watering a Christmas cactus is a delicate affair; too little or excess water can easily cause the death of the plant. You should only water when the top inch of the soil feels dry. Well-drained soil and pot are also great at preventing water-related problems.

Clay or plastic pot for Christmas cactus?

Plant pots are majorly made of clay or plastic. Terracotta clay pots would be a good option for growing a bigger Christmas cactus. Their porous nature allows air and moisture to flow freely around the root ball.

Here is a summary of the differences between clay and plastic pot for plants.

Clay PotsPlastic Pots
They are porous and thus beneficial to plants that don’t like wet conditions around their roots.They have non-porous walls, which makes them suitable for plants that need more water.
They are heavy and stable, thus suitable for people with pets.They are lightweight and can easily be tipped over. However, they can be beneficial in moving your plant from one point to another.
They are prone to cracking if mishandled or exposed to extremely low temperatures.They are tough and flexible; they won’t easily crack when mishandles or exposed to harsh weather conditions.
They are quite expensive compared to plastic models.They are less expensive unless you go for customized plastic planters.
Clay pots are natural and environmentally safe. This makes it easy to dispose of.Plastic waste is unfriendly to the environment. Disposing of them is a problem unless carefully recycled.
They can easily blend in any décor due to their traditional aesthetic features.Although available in many colors, they won’t easily blend in traditional decors.
Clay materials are natural and safe around plants and animals.Plastic materials can off-gas OVC, which can harm plants and animals.

Glazed vs unglazed clay pots

There are two main types of clay pots; glazed and unglazed ones. Terracotta is a famous unglazed type of clay pot that has existed for a long time. These porous pots are available in different colors that range from red, brown, orange, yellow, and white.

Terracotta pots are the best for a Christmas cactus as they allow good movements of water and air through their walls. This feature helps prevent cactus roots from downing and discourages pests and fungi that thrive in wet conditions.

Glazed clay pots combine most of the properties of clay and plastic pots. They don’t hold as much moisture as plastic pots, yet don’t dry out as quickly as terracotta planters. They are heavy and can easily crack when mishandled or exposed to freezing temperatures.

Glazed clay pots are available in more designs and colors and are pricier than their unglazed and plastic counterparts. They are still suitable for a Christmas cactus if they have draining holes.

Plastic pots glazed ceramic pots are not porous enough, which limits the movement of air and water through their walls. This encourages wet conditions around the plant roots. These pots are, therefore, unsuitable for growing cacti and other succulents.

Soil requirements for Christmas cactus

With the right pot, you must also meet the ideal soil requirements for a Christmas cactus. The plant prefers well-draining soil that is organically rich. You can make homemade potting soil by mixing compost or garden loam with perlite and peat in equal parts.

The perlite and peat will help aerate the soil mixture for better drainage, while the compost or loam will be essential in retaining nutrients and enough moisture the plant needs. Alternatively, use a commercial potting mix specifically formulated for cacti or succulents.

Additional care requirements

Other important care requirements for a Christmas cactus include fertilizing with a half-strength balanced fertilizer monthly from the time new growth starts in spring to the end of summer.

Christmas cactus fertilizer requirements won’t be complete without including Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate). It is an essential nutrient for the growth and production of flower buds.

Remember to keep your Christmas cactus in bright indirect light. To encourage blooming, stop fertilizing, cut back on watering, and keep the plant in uninterrupted darkness for 12 to 14 hours daily for six to eight weeks.

The dormancy and the cool temperatures during the fall or winter will stimulate blooming. Be sure to keep the plant from cold drafts or heat sources such as vents, fireplaces, or heat-emitting electronics to prevent flower buds from falling off.

In dry conditions, increase the humidity around the plant by placing the pot on a pebble tray half-filled with water.

Final Thought

In the right growth conditions, a Christmas cactus will always reward with beautiful blooms during the winter. This plant prefers well-draining soil and a pot with a drainage hole. Bright indirect light and regular fertilizing during growth will also keep the plant healthy.


  • North Carolina Cooperative Extension: Christmas Cactus Care
  • University of Minnesota Extension: Holiday Cacti

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