Having a beautiful Christmas cactus, in your garden or indoor space, is just the right step into bringing class into your space. It doesn’t require high maintenance to stay alive and grow, and they blossom into beautiful flowers of colors.
Unlike the regular cactus plant, you may enjoy a flourishing display of lilac, purple, red, crème, and other exciting colors all depending on the variety. However, if you want to experience this beautiful plant blooming beautiful all season and all year, then you might want to learn how to repot a Christmas cactus to give your plant more space for more growth.
Repotting a Christmas Cactus
Generally, repotting plants often seem complicated because of the fear of having them damaged. Although great care is needed, repotting your plant isn't always that complicated. Unlike most plants that are best repotted in spring, after displaying new growth, Christmas cactus are best reported either during winter, shortly after winter or early spring.
Depending on your Christmas cactus variant, blooming for this plant often ends shortly after winter, when all the beautiful flowers wither away, in preparation for the new ones. Blooming for other variants could end during winter or early spring. Whichever is the case, always make sure that your Christmas cactus has stopped blooming before making any effort to re-pot.
Since most Christmas cactus owners prefer their plants in fancy pots for horticultural purposes, then regular repotting between three to four years is the best timeframe for repotting. However, if you can grow your Christmas cactus into a slightly spacious pot that is big enough to accommodate growth for longer years, you should do for it. however, you need to be careful about excessively big pots and the material of the pot.
This is because most Christmas cactus varieties are root bound to their pots and a lot of damages may be done to their roots if care isn’t taken while trying to repot after the plant is already root bound to its pot. You may find your plant growing slower than normal after repotting a Christmas cactus that is already root-bound. Christmas cactus blossom more and grow faster when it is root bound to a pot and that is because the plant prefers a crowded root.
For smaller plants or cuts of Christmas cactus, you may want to re-pot after one year so they have time to gather more crowded roots. You may re-pot yearly until they are mature enough for a three to four years interval repotting.
Appropriate Pot for Christmas Cactus
You probably bought or would buy a young Christmas cactus plant in a plastic bucket or pot. This isn’t the best for this plant. It doesn’t usually come with perfect drainage as well as proper air circulation for the root system of the plant. That is why it is ideal to repot your plant after purchase or never consider using plastic at all.
Clay pots are often the best and the most appropriate pot for your Christmas cactus. They provide the right natural water circulation and draining system your plant needs to grow. Clay pots also help the root to retain the right humidity and moist a Christmas cactus needs to remain a low maintenance plant. Clay pots also provide a good and natural air circulation for your plant.
In picking the right pot when repotting your Christmas cactus, settle for pots that are at least two inches deeper and wider, both in circumference and diameter, than the previous pot. This gives the plant enough room to grow and crowd its roots in anticipation of the next re-pot. However, make sure the pot isn't too big. Very big pots may result in the pot saving up too much moisture and humidity than the plant requires, and this may result in the root of your Christmas cactus rotting away.
Settling for the Right Soil When Repotting
In choosing the right soil needed to ensure maximum growth for your Christmas cactus, you need to first understand that in its natural habitat, Christmas cactus grows mostly on other plants, under shaded areas, and on rocks. Hence, whatever soil you are settling for has to be very lightweight.
While you can use your mix of soil to grow or repot Christmas cactus, make sure the soil drains water properly and is very organic. Also, since the plant is quite picky when it comes to soil, you may create your mix with coco coir fiber, succulent mix, potting soil, chips, and cactus mix.
Furthermore, peat-based soil is also ideal for potting provided it has coarse sand which ensures that water drains off properly and at the same time still retaining sufficient moist that helps the Christmas cactus grow. You may also combine one-third of your regular sand with the same portion of potting soil.
Simple Steps on How to repot a Christmas Cactus
Prepare Plant for Repotting Overnight
It is always ideal to water your plant sufficiently overnight in preparing the plant for a next day repot. This allows the root to stay well moistened and the potting soil to be damp enough to stick to the root. It makes repotting easier instead of dealing with quite coarse soil that may expose the root and lead to the damage.
Hold the Soil in Place
Select an appropriate pot, preferably clay and at most two inches wider and deeper than the old pot. Remember the more excessive the size of your pot is, the more likely that the root of your plant may get damaged.
Make sure the pot has perfect drainage, and since you do not want the potting soil slipping away after each watering, you need to cover the base from the inside with a mesh or a paper coffee filter. Covering the draining hole with a paper coffee filter or mesh will hold the soil and all its organic content in place for you.
After covering the draining hole, fill the base with your soil mix. Do not cover the entire pot at once but cover the pot at least two inches of soil mix to prepare foundational support for the plant you are about to re-pot. Remember the potting soil has to cactus mix or succulent mix.
The entire reason you need to water your plant overnight or perhaps consistently for some days is to make extracting very easy. You don't want to damage the root of your Christmas cactus. The goal is not to uproot the plant but to gently extract the plant together with the old soil mix that would have molded around the root.
The best way to do this, after watering overnight, is to turn the old pot upside down and support the upper layer with your palm while pulling gently to extract the plant and its mix. If it is difficult to extract, then you need to water a bit more and wait for the water to circulate or you could tap the base of the pot, which should be facing you slightly since the pot is upside down.
After extracting, gently place support the plant with your palm and place it in the new pot which holds a foundational soil mix as the bottom support for the plant. Then you can fill up the pot with the right level of soil mix until the plant looks comfortably potted. Remember to shake down the pot to settle the soil and to get it leveled rightly.
Water Lightly and Fertilize at Interval
Water your Christmas cactus lightly, for the next week or two, after repotting. Preferable, water just once in a day to ensure the soil remains moistened enough to accommodate the root into the new environment. Do not water heavily or for more than two weeks as this might make the root rot.
After the first two weeks, you may then resume your normal watering schedule to nurture the cactus into blossom. However, watering is not enough. You need to apply fertilizer eight weeks after repotting and the fertilizer has to be water-soluble. For the right application, use the 12-12-12 ratio to maintain a balance. A gallon of water should take in, at most, one tablespoon of fertilizer to be used for the regular monthly feeding of your Christmas cactus.
Although, repotting your Christmas can be quite technical but it could be a fun and exciting activity. You will love to see your plant blossom into colorful flowers, adding that splash of colorful class into your space. You will agree that maintaining this plant is way less stressful than any beautiful horticultural plant and if repotting at an interval of three or four years is all that is needed, you shouldn't have means to grumble about it.
You’re wondering how to repot a Christmas cactus? It doesn’t take much. Basically, it only requires choosing the right pot, settling with the right soil mix, creating a good foundational base to hold soil in place and carefully placing the plant back in the new pot, and filling it up with the right mix. After all this, just sit back and enjoy an all-season blossom of your favorite Christmas cactus