Repotting Christmas Cactus: When And How To Transplant Christmas Cactus

Thinking of repotting Christmas cactus plant?

Read on to find out step-by-step on what you need to know about when why and how to repot a Christmas cactus (also known as Easter cactus, Thanksgiving cactus or simply holiday cactus). All these variations are part of the Schlumbergera genus of plants.).

Christmas cactus is a popular houseplant because of its dazzling lilac or pink tubular flowers that bloom for a long time.

If you already have a collection of Christmas cactus in your garden or in your home for a couple of years now, you might want to repot them to make their blooms even livelier.

Don’t worry since this article will guide you through the basics of repotting your Christmas cactus.

Just like any other cacti, this plant is relatively easy to take care of.

However, the only thing that this peculiar cactus has compared to its family of cactus is that it doesn’t live in an arid environment.

Natively, Christmas cacti live in branches of trees at Brazil’s rainforest. It means that instead of arid areas, they’re used to a humid moist climate.

To know more about how to properly care for them, here are a few quick facts about the Christmas cactus.

Christmas Cactus plant profile
  • Names: Schlumbergera x buckleyi, Zygocactus buckleyi, Holiday cactus
  • Native:  Brazil
  • Watering Needs: Requires moist soil to grow
  • Light Requirements: Indirect sun Moderate light, partial shade
  • Life Span: Can live for 20 up to 30 years
  • Height: Maximum of 10 inches or 25.4 cm
  • Temperature: About 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit   
  • USDA Hardiness Zones: 9 to 11 for outdoor Christmas cacti
  • Season best planted in: Late spring

Welcome! I am so excited to help you learn all about repotting Christmas cactus I’ll also tell you why how and when to do it, and the best soil mix and correct pot size to use when transplanting a Christmas cactus!


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Pink Christmas
Cactus Plant 


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Yellow Christmas
Cactus Plant 


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White Christmas
Cactus Plant

When To Repot Christmas Cactus

When to Repot Christmas cactus

Most of the time, the best season to repot or transplant houseplant is during spring. It is when almost all plants start to actively growing.

However, your Schlumbergera plant is a bit different. They actually prefer to be potted up right after they are done blooming.

Since they are dubbed the “Christmas cactus”, it is safe to say that they stop flowering by the end of January up to early February. Some plant may take up to March to stop blooming.

How Often Should I Repot My Christmas Cactus?

How often should I repot my Christmas cactus

The best estimate on when you should transplant christmas cactus is about every 3 to 4 years. Although some owners prevent their plants from being root bound since they are a bit tricky to repot once they are, your Christmas cactus actually prefers being bound to their pot.

Don’t repot them frequently since you may cause more damage than good to your plant. They might also grow slower if they are repotted more than usual.

You’d be surprised how a root bound Christmas cactus blooms more. It is because this plant likes its roots crowded

It might be a bit different for younger and smaller plants or cuttings. These little babies will prosper more if they are repotted once a year for their first few years but just until they are completely established.

Once they are mature, you can proceed to repot Christmas cactus once every 4 years or more.


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Choosing Right Pot For Christmas Cactus 

Choosing Right Pot For Christmas Cactus

The first thing to prepare when transplanting Christmas cactus is the pot. Choose a container that is 1 to 2 inches bigger in diameter than the current one.

Be careful in picking a much bigger pot than what you have since it can also retain too much moisture that would cause rotting. 

Note: Clay pots with enough draining holes are the best for your Christmas cactus since it provides better air circulation for your plant’s roots.


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Best Potting Soil For Repotting Christmas Cactus

For the soil, you can use your own mix as long as it drains well and is lightweight. In their natural habitat, Christmas cacti grow on rocks and other plants under trees and shrubs.

It means that they thrive from the nutrients coming from organic leaf matter that falls from the trees over them.

You can say that these plants are quite meticulous when it comes to soil. You can never go wrong with the usual porous mix for bromeliads.

You can use potting soil that is peat-based and that has perlite or coarse sand since these components offer fast drainage while maintaining a damp soil that your Christmas cactus love. A combination of 2/3 regular potting soil and 1/3 sand is good too.

One popular mix is one-third each of potting soil, cactus and succulent mix, and coco coir fiber and chips.


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How To Repot A Christmas Cactus

Repotting a Christmas cactus isn’t a difficult task, however, you might need to be gentle when transplanting older plants or plans that are root bound. What exactly does root bound mean?

Mostly, root bound plants, in this case some Christmas cactus, grows too much for their current container. Then their entire root system becomes bound with their pot.  

The roots of your plant wind and twist up the pot until they become root bound.

  • Turn your plant on its side and gently hold the base. Carefully slide the plant out of the old pot. If it’s too compacted, gently tap the sides of the pot against a solid surface. You can also take the plant out by slicing around the edges of the pot using a dull knife or by squeezing the container.
  • Carefully massage the root ball to loosen it slightly. Try to get rid of some of the dry, old soil from the roots. It is easier to do this if the roots are slightly moist, you can rinse them slightly if you prefer so the compact potting mix can be removed.  Using your hands, gently tease the roots to avoid damaging them.
  • Place about 1/3 of your preferred potting mix into the container then put the root ball on top. Fill the pot with more mix until the root ball is evenly placed approximately ½ to 1 inch from the container’s rim. This is the best time to add in compost as you fill it. Get rid of any air spaces by slightly patting the soil with your palms and by shaking the container gently.
  • Water the plant moderately for one to three weeks to let the damaged roots recover and to just give them enough moisture. Remember that damaged roots can have a hard time absorbing water than usual and your plant could rot if you give them too much water. You can resume your usual watering schedule after three weeks.
  • Place your plant in a shaded area for a couple of days to let it acclimate to its new soil and surroundings. A patio where it can get indirect but bright light is good.

Repotting After Care

Repotting After Care

You can resume caring for your newly repotted Christmas cactus like you’re used to after a week at best. 

When it comes to watering, water your Christmas once the soil is dry. Since your plant loves moisture, keep it evenly moist by misting is frequently.

They thrive in natural and bright light on medium exposure. Direct sunlight might cause burn on your plant’s leaves.

For the temperature, just maintain 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit and they’ll do just fine. Also make sure that you increase the humidity in your home if it’s a bit dry.

Lastly, your Christmas cactus doesn’t really need to be fertilized but it also would hurt if you use half strength water soluble formula like 20-20-20 during its growing season. You can also just use worm compost with your potting mix.

How Often Should You Water Your Christmas Cactus?

How Often Should You Water Your Christmas Cactus_

Some prefer not to water their Christmas cactus about a week or two before transferring them to a new pot. It’s a good practice since it lessens the possibility of rotting.

However, if you currently have a root bound plant, it is easier to repot your Christmas cactus if they watered about one to two days before repotting.

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21 thoughts on “Repotting Christmas Cactus: When And How To Transplant Christmas Cactus”

  1. Thank you very much. Well organized. Simple to understand. The only problem is the temptation to show love to my plants by overwatering and overfeeding. And not to replant too often. Thanks!

    • Thank you for the information. I have a question. I got one for my daddy’s death, it is in one of those black plastic containers they come in. Should I leave it in that until it stops blooming or do it now? Thank you ❤️😀

      • Vickie, wait until it finishes blooming before you repot. Don’t be tempted to pick off the dead blooms either: let them fall off naturally!

  2. Thank you for this educational video. And idea I have when repotting 3 differently colored cactus is to start a 4th plant using pieces of plant that fall off when repotting. That plant will have three colors of bloom when mature and flowers. Especially exciting would be the new starts from plants that flower from Thanksgiving through Easter!!!

  3. What was the soil combination again?
    I’ve had a Christmas cactus for about four years I’ve never reported it and this year it’s beginning to droop and wilt. Even though I have watered it every other week it seems to look better and then will to get. The soil around the part is pointing away so it’s very dry I just don’t know it bloomed last year. I just don’t know if I should re-pot it or not. Any thoughts or suggestions would be greatly appreciated I would hate to lose this beautiful plant

  4. Thank you for a well written article on “Repotting Christmas Cactus”. I have a Christmas Cactus that has grown about 4 x’s it size since I bought it. I did repot it one time and it double again, as is getting ready to be repotted again. Last year only 1/2 of the plant bloomed unsure why. I appreciated the soil contents you indicated, which is how I will now used better soil, not just potting soil after it blooms again this year. Also appreciated knowing that it likes to be moist, I always thought it liked dry soil, so I will change my watering of this plant. It look really healthy, my only concern was it’s 1/2 bloom and not full. Thank you again for the good information.

    • Do you rotate the pot weekly? I have found that I get more even blooming if I give the pot 1\4 turn each week. Also, you might want to check to see if the plant gets more light at night on the unblooming side as night light during the bud setting time of the year can affect blooming.
      Please research this for more complete information.

  5. Hi I bought a Christmas cactus and repotted it because I thought it was root bound but since I read that they like to be some what crowded I’m afraid I screwed was I’m guessing a nursery pot it was still in and it was some what root bound so do you think it will be okay?ps with a new plant repotted how often should i water it?is it like most plants 7 days until roots take or less?also my new pot i have it in has a built in over flow plate so will that take away some of the watering since the cactus don’t like to be over watered?

  6. I have a christmas/Thanksgiving cactus that I have grown in water for about four years. It blooms every year. I’m just wondering how to go about planting it in soil. Thank you.

  7. I have a Christmas cactus (actually Thanksgiving cactus) given to me as a one stalk little desk decoration back in the 1970s – it is now huge and blooms every year, dark red.

  8. Holiday cactus like to stay moist. I put the pot on a plate that is raised up in the middle so the pot doesn’t sit in water. Then I keep the plate full of water. It adds moisture to the air around the plant and the plant soaked up water from beneath as needed. No fuss just add a cup or so of water to the plate when dry. Works like a charm.

  9. Thank you for the information. I repotted my cactus and it got too hot (central California) and it died off. Now it is a lot smaller in a huge pot. Should I transfer it back to a smaller pot until it grows out again?


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