Christmas cactus is a long-lived plant that can be handed down from generation to generation. True to its name, this plant profusely displays beautiful flowers during Christmas.
If your Christmas cactus is not growing, pruning may help stimulate new growth resulting in a fuller and more attractive plant. Additionally, removing overgrown or leggy branches also keep the plant in shape.
Pruning is best done in the spring or summer after the plant has finished blooming. Since it’s a growing season, the plant will easily recover.
Even if you have a large space to accommodate the monstrous plant, I recommend you prune it. This is because, as it grows, it becomes heavier, and eventually, the weight will overwhelm the cactus’ woody stems, forcing it to split.
How to Prune a Christmas cactus – Steps
To prune a Christmas cactus, you’ll need a clean, sharp pair of pruning shears or scissors, rubbing alcohol for disinfecting your tools, and a soft cloth.
Here are the steps to prune a Christmas cactus:
- Sterilize your pruning shears or scissors by wiping the blades with a soft cloth soaked in rubbing alcohol. This will help prevent the spread of disease or infection to the plant.
- Identify the parts of the stems that need pruning. Look for any branches that are overgrown, leggy, or damaged. Dont forget to remove any dead or yellowing leaves.
- Make clean cuts above a leaf or stem node to encourage new growth. Make sure to maintain a balanced shape as you prune. Do not remove over one-third of the plant’s total size in one pruning session.
- Let the plant rest a few days after pruning before resuming your normal watering and care. This will prevent water from entering the plant to cause rotting.
With proper care, your Christmas cactus should take less than a month to produce new growth in the areas where it was pruned.
If you plan to propagate your Christmas cactus, take longer cuttings – around 3 to 4 segments long. These cuttings can then be rooted in different pots to have more new plants you can gift your friends or relatives.
Rooting Christmas cactus cuttings
Once you have obtained your cuttings, let them sit in a cool, dry place for two or three days to dry out. This helps prevent rot at the cut edge. In the meantime, prepare your cactus soil mix in pots with drainage holes.
Insert the segment into the soil, ensuring the cutting is about an inch deep to absorb enough moisture and nutrients. Place the pot in a well-lit area, avoiding direct sunlight as it can scorch the cuttings.
Water the cutting sparingly, preferably when the top inch of the soil feels dry. Avoid overwatering as it may cause root rot.
After 2-3 weeks of rooting, the cutting will show new growth. This is a sign that rooting has taken place.
Christmas cactus post-pruning care
For faster recovery, ensure your plant is provided with the following:
Bright indirect light
A pruned Christmas cactus will need bright indirect light to stimulate new growth. Keep the plant away from direct sunlight as it will burn the new leaves. Water it thoroughly when the top 1 inch of the soil feels dry, and don’t let the cactus sit in any standing water.
Constantly keep the soil moist through regular watering but don’t overwater. Chrismas cactus is prone to root rot triggered by excess moisture in the soil. An Overwatered Christmas cactus may wilt and eventually die.
Humidity and warmth
Christmas cactus obtains part of their water from the air, which is why it loves high humidity levels. Placing a pot containing water beside the plant when the air is dry is important in boosting the needed humidity. Keep the temperature between 60 and 70 degrees F.
Fertilize the plant regularly in spring and summer, at least once monthly, with a well-balanced houseplant fertilizer such as 10-10-10.
In addition, fertilize the plant monthly with magnesium sulfate (Epsom salt) solution at 1 teaspoon to 1 gallon of water a week after the regular fertilizer.
You should repot your Christmas cactus after every 2 years. This rejuvenates the important supplies to the plant. It should be done in spring as the plant enters into its growing seasons. Use standard cactus soil in a slightly large well-draining pot.
Pruning sustains the size and shape of a Christmas cactus as it also enhances growth. Prune your Christmas cactus in spring precisely after blooming, and you may also root the cuttings to have more plants. Remember to water and fertilize your cactus accordingly.
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.