The Christmas cactus is an easy-to-care-for houseplant, and it shouldn’t be difficult to make it grow bigger. This plant doesn’t have a limit in the right growth conditions. It keeps growing and blooming profusely for many years, making it a great heirloom gift.
If your Christmas cactus grows is not growing, repot in a smaller planter with fresh soil mix and keep it in bright indirect sunlight. Water whenever the soil feels dry and feed it once each month in spring and summer with a soluble houseplant fertilizer.
How to grow a bigger Christmas cactus
If you have enough space in your home, nothing should stop you from growing the biggest Christmas cactus. Here is what makes a Christmas cactus grow faster:
1. Prune when the blooming ends
Pruning stimulates new growth and more foliage in plants. If you want your Christmas cactus to grow bigger, trim up to 1/3 of the stems when booming ends completely. Simply pinch the stems to remove them, or use a sterilized sharp knife to cut them off.
Spring or early summer is the best time to prune a Christmas cactus. This is when blooming has ended, and the plant has entered active growth; therefore easy to recover and form new growth.
Avoid pruning the cactus in the fall or winter, as this can reduce the plant’s ability to bloom during the holiday season.
You may root the cactus cuttings to get more plants you can gift your friends or family. Take a healthy stem with three to four segments and let them sit for two to three days for the cut end to dry out. Plant them an inch deep into the new soil mix and water sparingly until new roots or growth starts.
2. Repot the cactus in fresh soil
Christmas cactus prefers a small pot, but the plant may stop growing when roots outgrow the pot and get entangled. To stimulate growth, repot the Christmas cactus in well-draining fresh soil every two to three years.
Use a new pot just 1 to 2 inches wider than the current one, and ensure it has a drainage hole.
Fill the new container 1/3 full with succulents potting mix. Place the plant in the container and fill in around the root ball, leaving about 1 inch of space between the top of the soil and the lip of the planter for easy watering.
The Christmas cactus thrives when pot-bound, and using an oversized pot can slow its growth. Drainage is one of the important pot requirements for a Christmas cactus. A pot without good drainage may promote root rot.
An unglazed clay pot with a drainage hole is the most suitable. It allows air and moisture to flow freely across its walls.
3. Provide bright indirect light
Light is essential in green plants as it provides energy for photosynthesis. The University of New Hampshire explains that holiday cacti grow best when placed in a location with partial shade, such as an east or west-facing window, with a temperature between 70° and 80℉.
However, too much direct sunlight can burn the plant foliage. Christmas cactus turning purple or red is usually a sign of too much sunlight.
During summer, you can take your Christmas cactus outdoors to enjoy warmth and humidity, but you must protect it from direct sunlight. Place the plant on a covered patio, under trees, or on a porch, and make sure it’s not sitting in any standing water.
4. Water whenever the soil feels dry
Unlike desert cactus, which can go months without water, a Christmas cactus loves constant moisture in the soil. However, this plant dislikes waterlogged soil as it can cause root rot. Excess water in the soil stops oxygen from reaching the roots, thus causing them to suffocate and die.
It is important to Water it only whenever the top inch of the soil feels dry. Additionally, don’t allow the holiday cactus to stand in water.
5. Fertilize during spring and summer
Feed the Christmas cactus every month from April to September with a water-soluble houseplant fertilizer like 20-20-20. Additionally, fertilize with Epsom salt diluted at 1 teaspoon per gallon of water but don’t apply the same week as fertilizer.
Substitute one watering with these solutions to meet the Christmas cactus fertilizer requirements without overwatering the soil.
The Christmas cactus doesn’t need fertilizer during blooming. Feeding during winter may cause flower buds to wilt and drop off the plant.
6. Inspect for pests and treat
Although insect pests aren’t a major problem with the Christmas cactus, they can cause permanent deformity when they infest the plant. When feeding, they create wounds in the cactus flesh where water or pathogens may enter and damage the plant tissues.
Insect pests such as mealybugs, aphids, fungus gnats, scale, and spider mites can hide in tight spots where you can’t see them easily. It’s easy to manage them by making it routine to inspect your houseplants.
Houseplant pests can be difficult to control, but washing the plant with a strong stream of water can help dislodge them from their hideouts. You can also dab the visible pests with rubbing alcohol on a cotton ball to kill them.
You may also use insecticidal soap solutions or agricultural oils to get rid of mealybugs or other insect pests on the cactus. Be sure to use as directed on the product label. Testing on a small area of the plant may also confirm if they are safe to use.
How to stimulate buds formation
Holiday cacti are short-day plants that bloom when temperatures get cool. To initiate flower bud production, keep the Christmas cactus in darkness for 12 to 14 hours daily for six to eight weeks. The temperature should be around 61 degrees Fahrenheit, explains Michigan State University Extension.
Once the plant has set flower buds, return it to a place with bright indirect light but away from cold or hot air drafts. Water the plant when the top inch of the soil feels dry, and mist it with water when humidity is low.
Alternatively, place the planter on a pebble tray half filled with water to boost humidity around the plant.
The Christmas cacti are native to tropical Brazilian rainforests, where they grow as epiphytic plants on rocks and tree branches. Their blooming during winter makes them great houseplants for the holiday season. These plants can grow bigger with minimal care as long as you stimulate their growth, as explained in this guide.
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.