The Christmas Cactus, which is also known as the Schlumbergera truncate, is a holiday plant often handed as a gift to others.
It has bright pink and red flowers, which makes it a popular plant in America.
It is grown in the USDA hardiness zones 10 to 12 and can often be confused for the Easter Cactus.
The bloom cycle of the plant takes place in winters, and during this time, people often find that their plant has started to wilt.
This plant requires extra care as well as attention, and a lack of it could be why your Christmas Cactus gets damaged.
Why is My Christmas Cactus Wilting?
There can be several reasons behind why your Christmas Cactus is wilting. Some include underwatering or overwatering, pest infection, or humidity. However, the most common reason behind wilting in this plant is soggy soil and root rot. Wilting is a sign that your plant is lacking care or being provided too much of something. This will not instantly kill your plant but should be considered a warning before your plant dies.
Reasons Why Your Christmas Cactus is Wilting
People often find it hard to determine the perfect water ratio for their plants. Oftentimes, the reason why Christmas Cactus wilt is due to over-watering.
Plant owners that are too paranoid about leaving their plant thirsty end up over-watering their plants, and this leads to other problems.
However, overwatering may not always be the cause.
Sometimes owners tend to under-water it as they think this plant is a true cactus due to its name.
This plant is not as drought resistant as cactuses, even though it is capable of storing a good amount of water in its leaves.
The Christmas Cactus needs to be provided with a good amount of humidity, especially if its surroundings are dry. Humidity levels between fifty to sixty percent are perfect for Christmas Cactus.
Lack of humidity leads to more water evaporating from these plant leaves, thus causing them to wilt. Overwatering to compensate for the loss of water can lead to the dreaded root rot.
This is why the surrounding humidity must be kept constant. Thus, a good humidifier in your home can greatly help with this dilemma.
Soil-related issues are the most common problems in Christmas Cactus.
Soggy soil is the biggest enemy of Christmas Cactus, and it can cause your plant’s leaves to wilt within days.
When watering this plant indoors, you will need to do a good job at letting the water seep through the drainage holes. If your plant’s pot doesn’t have drainage holes, then first start by making those to avoid wilting.
However, if you are confident that the excess water always passes out of the drainage holes, then it could be time to repot your plant.
The wilting may be a sign of stunted roots, meaning your plant needs a larger pot for growth.
A Christmas Cactus usually needs to be repotted once every three to four years. But if your plant seems to not be adjusting to its pot, then repotting is the best option.
Overwatered Christmas Cactus causes soggy soil, which in return causes the roots to rot, and this leads to wilting of the leaves.
To provide your plant with the perfect amount of water, use the rule of keeping the soil moist when the plant blooms.
When the blooms are no longer there, wait until a few inches from the top of the soil to dry up and then water.
Leaving the soil of Christmas Cactus soggy for too long is what causes the roots to rot. Eventually, the rotted roots will stop taking up nutrients from the soil and cause your plant to wilt.
There are many ways for you to spot root rot in your plant.
Some of the common signs include a few limping leaves and sagging. Of course, wilting leaves are another sign, but this is usually when the rotting has gotten extremely bad.
To get a full inspection of the roots, you will have to lift your Christmas Cactus out of its pot. If rotting of the roots has occurred, then they will look black and have a slimy substance on top of them.
If root rot is the cause for your Christmas Cactus to wilt, then it is important to fix the issue as fast as possible. Root rot is deadly and can become impossible to fix if it has gone on for too long.
The only option left at the end would be to propagate your plant by taking a cutting and starting a new plant. But this is the last option which you will only do if you aren’t able to save your plant.
If your Christmas Cactus is not provided with proper sunlight, then it will start to wilt.
But lighting issues are not as common for Christmas Cactus since they require bright light but not direct sunlight.
However, some owners may find it difficult to place the plant in the right spot due to several reasons. Read about light levels for you to know where exactly best to place your Christmas Cactus.
These pests can cause a range of problems such as yellowing of the leaves, wilting, and even stunted growth.
How to Stop Your Christmas Cactus from Wilting
How much water your Christmas Cactus needs depends on its surrounding temperatures as well.
It’s wise to keep your Christmas Cactus between seventy to eighty degrees Fahrenheit (21 to 26 degrees Celsius) during its growing period (April to September).
Doing this ensures that the plant won’t lose too much water to its surrounding. This further allows your Christmas Cactus to gain the right amount of water.
Don’t over-water your plant and let the soil dry a few inches deep before you water it again.
The plant would shrivel a little if you didn’t provide it with enough water, which will allow you to know if you have under-watered it.
Perfect Humidity Levels
To provide proper humidity to your plant, first, make sure it is not close to doors that open and close too often. Aside from maintaining the room’s humidity, ensure that the plant is kept away from drafty windows.
Then to increase the humidity levels around the plant, make sure its surroundings are not too dry. Do this by simply placing a pebble tray under the plant.
A humidifier can also help you achieve this feat.
Keep Your Plant Under Proper Sunlight
Keep your Christmas Cactus under partial shade or bright indirect sunlight. The plant is adaptable to different sunlight, but keeping it under direct sunlight will cause it to wilt.
The only time of the year where you can provide direct sunlight is during the winters. Never keep the plant under direct sunlight during spring and summer as the leaves will turn yellow and wilt.
Check for Pests
Always inspect the leaves of your plants for pests, especially the bottom side, as most love to hide under the leaves.
Neem oil is the best organic way to get rid of pests without harming the environment as well.
Another way to remove pests is by spraying the leaves of your plant with high-pressure water that is mixed with soap.
You can also use organic insecticide to remove any of the remaining pests on your plant. When doing this process, make sure your plant is kept away from other plants.
If pests are present, get rid of them all and replace the soil.
Change the Soil
Soggy soil is the main reason for wilting leaves in Christmas Cactus. Thus, it’s always a good idea to replace your soil with good draining soil.
Replacing the soil also makes sure that your Christmas Cactus does not get affected by other diseases. For Christmas Cactus, airy and fast-draining soil is the best.
To get the best soil for your Christmas Cactus, add coarse sand or even perlite to any random potting mix, as this will improve drainage.
Repot your plant almost every year, or every three to four years, if you are confident that your plant is healthy. This act ensures that the soil remains airy and the roots do not get suffocated.
Avoid Root Rot
You can treat your Christmas Cactus root rot if you catch it early. First, you will have to remove the plant from its container or pot the soonest possible.
Then cut any rotten roots from the plant and wash the roots to get rid of the slime on them. Let the roots remain out of the pot overnight in a warm room so that they may dry up.
Once the root becomes dry, take a pot with proper drainage holes, and add properly draining soil to it. Leave the plant be for a few days before you water it again.
Once everything is done, water your plant according to the instructions given before and make sure the drainage is proper.
Frequently Asked Questions about Wilting Christmas Cactus
How can I revive my wilted Christmas Cactus?
The recovery of your plant will depend on how damaged it is. You can revive your plant by cutting off dead leaves, adjusting its sunlight, giving the proper amount of water, and controlling pests.
Will cutting of rooting roots to avoid wilting kill my Christmas Cactus?
First, snip off any dead or infected roots on your Christmas Cactus to ensure that the rest of it can survive. This will not kill your plant as long as you do the procedure properly.
Marcel runs the place around here. He has a deep passion for houseplants & gardening and is constantly on the lookout for yet another special plant to add to his arsenal of houseplants, succulents & cacti.
Marcel is also the founder of Iseli International Commerce, a sole proprietorship company that publishes a variety of websites and online magazines.