Tips for Transplanting Christmas Cactus Safely

Moving a plant from its growth media or location to a different one can result in many challenges including, wilting, leaf drop, yellowing leaves, drooping or stunted growth. In this guide, I’ll explain how to transplant Christmas cactus safely.

Transplanting a Christmas cactus is not so different from repotting. However, in this case, you might be moving the plant from its starter pot to a different growth media or location. It is a more disruptive process and that’s the reason most plants experience what we call transplant shock.

There are a number of factors that can contribute to transplant shock, including:

  • Root damage: The roots of a plant are often damaged when transplanting. This commonly happens when some roots are cut or torn in the process of digging up.
  • Change in the environment: Plants can get stressed when moved to a new environment, particularly with different conditions of soil, light levels, temperature, and humidity. 
  • Water stress: Underwatering or overwatering a plant after transplanting can stress out the plant and cause transplant shock symptoms.

Signs of transplant shock can vary depending on how everything is handled. Commonly, they include wilting, leaf drop, yellowing leaves, drooping or stunted growth. In most cases, plants will recover from transplant shock within a few weeks when well cared for.

Transplanting Christmas cactus

Tips for transplanting Christmas cactus

After propagating Christmas cactus, most gardeners prefer transplanting the young plant. In most cases, the plant is moved from the starter pot to a larger one probably with a new growth media. Here is what to do to ensure that your plant remains healthy:

Choose the right time 

Timing is very essential in transplanting. Christmas cactus growth is most active during spring and summer. This is the best time to transplant and your plant will easily adapt to the new growth conditions. Avoid transplanting Christmas cactus during cold, hot, dry, or windy weather.

Prepare the soil properly

Christmas cactus prefers well-dained soil. When transplanting, use cactus mix and a pot with drainage holes. This plant is prone to root rot and other fungal problems when overwatered. For this reason, you’ll want to use well-drained fertile soil.

Although the new pot should be slightly bigger than the current one, an excessively larger pot can cause the soil to stay wet for so long. Additionally, Christmas cactus likes to be root bound, so a pot you use should not be too large.

Handle the plant carefully

Carefully remove the plant from its current pot to avoid damaging the roots. Tip the pot on one side and gently shake to dislodge the root ball. If the roots are tightly bound, you can gently loosen them with your fingers before planting into the new growth media. You may need to cut off overgrown roots before transplanting. 

Water the plant thoroughly

Water the plant thoroughly after transplanting until you see water running out through the pot drainage holes. However, make sure the plant is not sitting in any standing water as it can lead to root rot and other fungal problems. 

Place the plant in a shade

Place the Christmas cactus in a place with bright indirect sunlight. Direct sunlight will make the plant loose water that the roots can absorb, which can result in wilting. You may filter the light in your room with drapes to create a shady condition.

Monitor the plant closely

Monitor the plant closely and water when the top inch of the soil feels dry to the touch. Insert your finger in the soil to check the moisture level before watering. Pests can also take advantage of the vulnerable plant, so inspect and treat with insecticidal soap or neem oil.

Fertilize the plant after recovery

Slightly fertilize the Christmas cactus with a well-balanced houseplant fertilizer a few weeks after transplanting. This will help the plant to quickly recover from transplant shock and establish faster in the new environment. Do not fertilize during winter months when the plant is dormant.

Pro Tip: If the plant is overgrown, prune it back slightly or divide it before transplanting. Dead or diseased stems should also be removed.

Final Thought

Traditionally, Christmas cactus should be repotted every 2 to 3 years or when the plant outgrows its pot. Transplanting into a slightly larger pot gives roots room to breathe and expand well. The best time to repot or transplant Christmas cactus is in the spring or early summer when the plant is actively growing.

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