5 Tips to Revive a Dying Christmas Cactus

Revive a Dying Christmas Cactus – Withered Christmas cactus with drooping leaves is caused by overwatering and cold temperatures. Christmas cactus need the top two inches of soil to dry between waterings. If the soil remains damp for an extended period of time, the stems droop, fall apart, and die back due to root rot. A list of the possible reasons for a dying Christmas cactus

To resurrect a dying Christmas cactus, it is necessary to mimic part of its natural habitat by boosting humidity with frequent misting, allowing the first 2 inches of potting soil to dry between waterings, and placing the cacti in strong indirect light. Continue reading to find out how to put the answers into action and bring your dying Christmas cactus back to life.

Christmas Cactus Wilting and Dropping Leaves (Stems) (Overwatering and Underwatering)

Dying Christmas cactus save

  • The Symptoms. Stems droop, and pieces of stems fall off at random. The stems might also become yellow at times.
  • Causes. Typically, stress is caused by overwatering and slow draining swampy soils. Underwatering, chilly temperatures, and low humidity all have a role.

Wilting stems on a Christmas cactus are an early warning sign that the cactus is either not getting enough water or that the soil is excessively wet from overwatering and inadequate drainage.

Overwatering is the most common cause of withering stems. Christmas cactus grows on rocks or other trees in its native Brazil, thus it has excellent drainage around the roots. When the roots sit in wet soil, the stems wilt as an indication of stress.

Overwatering and compacted soils prevent oxygen from reaching the roots of the Christmas cactus. Without sufficient oxygen, the roots cannot efficiently respire, interfering with their capacity to suck up water and nutrients, resulting in a withering Christmas cactus.

If the cactus is left in wet soil for an extended period of time, parts of the stem may break off and the remaining stems will become yellow.

Christmas cactus lack leaves in favor of flattened stem parts that are adapted to photosynthesize and behave like leaves.

Sections of stem breaking away are also linked to unfavorable cold conditions. Temperatures below 50oF (10oC), especially when paired with overwatering, cause parts of stem to break off.
(Cold temperatures and abrupt temperature changes may also cause flower buds to fall off.)

This occurred to my Christmas cactus throughout the winter when it was housed on a window sill with part of its stems in contact with the glass.

The glass was much cooler than the room temperature at night, which aggravated the cold stress and caused several portions of the stem to come off.

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Low humidity may also induce wilting and leaf falling. Christmas cactus is indigenous to wet tropical Brazil. If the humidity is too low, the cactus loses too much water from its stems, causing it to wilt and break apart.

How to cure a Dying Christmas cactus
How to Resurrect a Wilting Christmas Cactus Dropping Leaves

The secret to reviving a wilting Christmas cactus is to mimic some of its natural habitat circumstances, such as watering when the soil is dry to the touch, keeping an appropriate temperature range, and increasing humidity with frequent spraying.

  • Water your Christmas cactus just when the top inch of soil is dry to the touch. Use your finger to sense moisture in the soil to identify when it usually dries out and water appropriately. This irrigation balance ensures that the cactus’ hydration needs are met while allowing the soil to dry out enough to prevent wilting and root rot.
  • Mist the stems of the cactus on a frequent basis to simulate the circumstances of its natural Brazilian rainforest setting. Misting your Christmas cactus offers ideal circumstances and keeps it from losing too much moisture via evaporation. If you can’t spray your plant every day, you may use a specific plant humidifier, which is available online.
  • When repotting your Christmas cactus, use a potting mix that contains two-thirds potting soil and one-third inorganic material like grit or perlite. A potting mix containing grit or perlite improves soil porosity, enabling water to drain effectively and oxygen to reach the roots for root respiration. This mimics the drainage conditions seen in the Christmas cactus’ natural environment.
  • Keep your Christmas cactus at temps above 50oF (10oC). The Christmas cactus’ optimum temperature range fluctuates throughout the year depending on seasonality, and the plant needs a certain sequence of temperatures to bloom. Keep the cactus away from drafty, chilly sections of the home.
  • The Christmas cactus should cease drooping and recover to its normal shape under the appropriate circumstances.
  • If any stem pieces have come off, this is an excellent chance to reproduce your Christmas cactus. In the correct circumstances, Christmas cactus are fairly simple to reproduce and grow rather fast.

Here’s a snapshot of a Christmas cactus segment that fell from the original plant and successfully rooted in a potting mix of around 60% soil and 40% horticultural sand, developing into an outstanding plant after just two years of growing in the appropriate circumstances, even blooming heavily.

How to resurrect a Dying Christmas cactus
Yellowing Christmas Cactus Leaves (Stems)

  • The Symptoms. yellowing leaves and a drooping look.
  • Causes. nutrient deficiency or overwatering, underwatering, low humidity, and cold weather.

When the roots of a Christmas cactus turn yellow, it is typically because the potting soil is too moist for them.

The first signs of overwatering are typically drooping stems; however, if the overwatering problem persists for a long enough period of time, the stems turn yellow; add in some other unfavorable growing conditions, such as sudden temperature fluctuations and low humidity, and the yellow effect is frequently exacerbated.

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In that case, follow the overwatering instructions above by allowing the top 2 inches of soil to dry between bouts of watering, ensuring the soil is well draining, and emptying any saucers, trays, or decorative outer pots of excess water that can pool around the base of the pot and keep the soil consistently damp.

Yellowing leaves may also be caused by underwatering, which occurs when you water too lightly or the potting soil has dried out entirely, causing it to become hydrophobic and resist water off the top of the soil without fully entering.

My own Christmas cactus went yellow since it was in a too-small planter. Christmas cactus may withstand being pot-confined, which can enhance the likelihood of blooming; however, I kept mine in the same pot for around 5 years.

Because the roots were yearning for additional dirt and room to expand, they were seen growing out of the earth. The roots had depleted the available nutrients in the potting soil, necessitating repotting and the use of a standard houseplant fertilizer on an as-needed basis.

How to Revive a Dying Christmas cactus
How to Resurrect a Dying Christmas Cactus

  • If your Christmas cactus has been in the same pot for a long time (and roots are seen growing out of the dirt), it may be time to repot it in a larger container. Only repot the cactus into a pot one size larger than its original pot, since over-potting may cause root rot. Repot your Christmas cactus in the spring, when the plant is most resistant to stress. Use a 60% potting soil, 40% grit or perlite potting mix.
  • In the spring and summer, apply a half-concentration of a general houseplant fertilizer. Christmas cactus need a lower concentration of fertilizer than other houseplants since they are evolved to grow on other trees or on rocks in their original environment, so always use half strength. The houseplant fertilizer gives the cactus all the nutrients it needs to flourish.
  • Water Christmas cactus well after watering to ensure that the soil is equally wet. Watering too gently just moistens the top few inches of soil, preventing moisture from reaching the roots and resulting in yellowing stems and a drooping look. If you don’t water for an extended period of time, the soil might dry up and bake hard, preventing water from properly penetrating and reaching the roots.
  • Scratch the potting soil back and feel it to determine whether it is dry despite being watered. In such a situation, immerse the cactus in a basin of lukewarm water, submerging the root ball for about 10 minutes to enable the soil to adequately absorb moisture. This strengthens the soil structure and should avoid the issue of hydrophobic soil, and you should be able to water your cactus normally the following time.
  • Once you’ve found the correct watering balance and fixed any potting issues, the Christmas cactus may be frequently revived and turned green again.
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However, it is far simpler to resuscitate a yellowish, dying Christmas cactus that is suffering from underwatering or a lack of nutrients than it is to recover one that is suffering from overwatering. If the plant has been consistently overwatered, root rot may produce yellowing stems, causing the plant to break apart and die back.

How to save Dying Christmas cactus

Cactus Turning Red or Purple for Christmas

  • The Symptoms. Leaves turn crimson or purple, usually toward the margins at first.
  • Causes. There is too much sunshine.

Christmas cactus are endemic to southeast Brazil’s coastal and mountain areas, where they grow beneath the canopy of a forest and are exposed to filtered light via the trees at best, if not relative shadow.

As a result, the leaves (which are really stems) of the Christmas cactus are suited to bright light but are sensitive to any severe direct light.

As a defensive mechanism, the cactus’s leaves turn red or purple (depending on the cultivar), attempting to reduce additional burning and injury.

The Christmas cactus raises the concentration of the photoprotective pigments anthocyanin and carotenoid to ensure that the leaves do not burn to the point that they cannot photosynthesize.

If a cactus has been grown in very deep shade and then abruptly transferred to a more sunny aspect with little time to adjust to the new circumstances, it is more likely to turn red or purple.

Simply relocate the cactus to an area of bright, indirect light that mimics the ideal lighting conditions in its original habitat.

Bright light is still necessary since it encourages blooming. The reddish, purple colorations should fade after the Christmas cactus is relocated to a location away from direct sunshine in the coming weeks.

  • A dying Christmas cactus is mainly caused by overwatering and temperatures below 50 oF (10 oC). Christmas cacti enjoy warm tropical conditions and need the top 2 inches of soil to dry between waterings. The cactus’s leaves droop, fall off, and die back if the soil is persistently moist and the air is too chilly.
  • If Christmas cactus leaves are exposed to too much direct sunlight, they turn crimson or purple. Because Christmas cactus are native to Brazilian rainforests and thrive in the shadow, they should be cultivated indoors in strong indirect light to prevent turning red or purple.
  • Christmas cactus become yellow due to overwatering, underwatering, or nutritional deficiency. Mature Christmas cactus may deplete the minerals in the potting soil, turning the leaves yellow and giving them a drooping, dying aspect.