A Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera bridgesii) is a beautiful plant year-round. The plant will display bright flowers during Christmas to set the holiday mood. Even when not flowering, it is still a wonderful plant to decorate your home.
However, without proper care, this beloved plant will disappoint you. Christmas cactus drooping is commonly a sign of distress from overwatering, underwatering, lack of humidity, poor lighting, and extreme temperature changes.
Why is My Christmas Cactus Drooping?
A droopy Christmas cactus signifies a serious problem; you must quickly act before the plant dies. The following are reasons why your Christmas cactus is drooping.
Although the Christmas cactus has succulent leaves that store more water than an average plant, it still requires adequate moisture. Water enables nutrients in the soil to be absorbed and transported around the plant.
Christmas cactus prefers well-draining soil that is consistently moist but not waterlogged. Droopy leaves, shriveling, and wilting are major signs of underwatered Christmas cactus. Prolonged dehydration may eventually cause the death of the plant.
Overwatering a Christmas cactus is a great threat to the health of the plant. It can lead to various problems, including root rot, yellowing leaves, wilting, and stunted growth. Too much water in the soil will hinder oxygen from reaching the roots.
This makes the root cells die from suffocation. Additionally, Soggy conditions encourage the growth of fungi and harmful bacteria in the soil.
If you suspect your Christmas cactus has been overwatered, immediately stop watering it and let the soil dry out completely. You may also need to remove dead or rotting roots and repot the plant in a fresh, well-draining soil mix.
3. Incorrect Soil
Various plants have specific soil they thrive, and a Christmas cactus is no different. In the wild, they even grow along tree branches. Christmas cacti have succulent-like leaves that hold water for an extended period.
When the soil does not drain well enough, the Christmas cactus will have similar symptoms as when it has been overwatered. Ideal potting soil for a Christmas cactus should be a well-draining mix, preferably formulated for cacti and succulents.
4. Outgrown pot
A Christmas cactus that is growing in ideal conditions will grow very quickly. The roots will also spread around the pot, and when there is no more space, they will entangle each other or grow out through the drainage holes.
The heavily compacted roots cannot properly take up the nutrients and water. This will result in nutrient deficiency, stunted growth, and a weak droopy plant.
5. Incorrect temperatures or humidity
Christmas cacti are tropical plants and prefer areas with high humidity because they draw moisture from the air. They also do not prefer very cold environments.
When exposed to temperatures below 50°F for a long time, their tissues and cells will be damaged. Soon the plant leaves will start to droop and then die off.
How to fix a droopy Christmas cactus
To fix a droopy Christmas cactus, you must first diagnose the problem. Be keen because the plant could be facing more than one issue. Below I have explained how to fix the issues mentioned above.
1. Provide the right amount of water
Too much water or no water is not ideal for Christmas cacti. You should balance the water content so the soil does not dry or flood.
If you have been overwatering your Christmas cactus, you must go slow on water and only water when the topsoil is dry. You should also check if the roots are rotten. Rotten roots should be removed, and repot the plant in a fresh soil mix.
If you have been underwatering the plant, increase the frequency of watering but also water when the topsoil is dry to avoid flooding the plant.
2. Use the right type of soil
If your Christmas cactus is drooping due to poor soil, you will have to change the soil immediately. The ideal soil for Christmas cactus is a mix of potting soil and river sand. The river sand increases the space between soil particles to improve drainage and airflow.
If the soil is the problem, repot the Christmas cactus in a well-draining soil mix. You must wash off the old soil and chop off the damaged roots. Be sure to use use a pot will drainage holes at the bottom.
3. Use a bigger pot
A Christmas cactus grows relatively fast; you must repot it every two to three years. When repotting a Christmas cactus, use a pot of two sizes up to accommodate the grown root system. Be sure to meet the ideal pot requirements for a Christmas cactus.
Note: Using a similar soil mix as the one the plant was in will help the cactus adapt immediately to the new growth media.
4. Provide appropriate temperature and humidity
Do not keep a Christmas cactus below 50°F for an extended period. Ensure the daytime temperature is between 65°F and 70°F while at night, at around 60°F. The temperature can be lowered further to encourage blooming.
When humidity is low, occasionally mist the Christmas cactus leaves with water to moisten them. You may take the plant outside during summer to enjoy the warmth and humidity, but keep it protected from direct sunlight.
A droopy Christmas cactus is unhealthy, and if not taken care of, it might dry out and die. The main reasons for a droopy Christmas cactus are overwatering, underwatering, extreme temperature, low humidity, and inadequate nutrient supply resulting from poor soil type or a small pot.
The Christmas cactus will bounce back and grow healthy if these issues are solved.
- N.C. Cooperative Extension: Christmas Cactus Care
- University of New Hampshire: How often to water Christmas cactus
- University of California: The Christmas Cactus
My name is Diane M Lewik, and I am the founder of this website. I am a degree holder in plant biology from the University of California – Berkeley. Over years, I have cultivated a vast collection of succulents and I have learned a great deal about how to grow and care for these unique plants.