The Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera) is a lovely seasonal houseplant that may be used inside or outdoors. The Christmas cactus, unlike other desert cacti, has brilliant pink and scarlet blossoms and may live for up to 50 years. It’s normal to feel anxious when your Christmas cactus leaves begin to fall off. The purpose of this essay is to walk you through the most prevalent causes of Christmas cactus leaves falling off or drooping.
If you’ve neglected your plant, take a look at our top recommendations for reviving a Christmas cactus.
Why are the leaves on my Christmas cactus dropping off?
Christmas cactus is a tropical plant native to Brazil that is normally relatively easy to grow and maintain as a perennial in USDA plant hardiness zones 10b through 11. However, if particular growth conditions are not satisfied, the Christmas cactus leaves will begin to fall off. So, why do the leaves of the Christmas cactus fall off?
Your Christmas cactus leaves may fall off due to both underwatering and overwatering, however too much water is more common. Watering your houseplant should be done carefully and never to the point of flooding the soil. Even though the Christmas cactus is a tropical plant, it is still a cactus and does not require frequent watering. It requires more water than a desert cactus, but too much causes the roots to rot, causing the leaves to droop or fall off. Overwatering can lead to withering foliage and attract Christmas cactus pests, among other issues.
If you’re not sure how often to water a Christmas cactus, a good rule of thumb is to water once a week and wait until the top inch of the soil is dry before rewatering. If you’re growing a Christmas cactus indoors, make sure you choose a container with drainage holes. Water thoroughly until the water drains from the bottom.
To avoid your plant resting in water at the roots, make sure the water drains correctly before placing it back onto a saucer. In the fall and winter, cut back on watering but don’t allow the soil entirely dry up.
Trauma Due to Temperature
It’s also possible that the improper temperature is causing your Christmas cactus leaves to fall off. In general, the houseplant prefers temperatures of 70 to 80°F (21 to 27°C) in the spring and summer and 60 to 68°F (15 to 20°C) in the fall and winter. Christmas cactus can withstand freezing temperatures in USDA plant hardiness zones 10 to 12.
You may also notice that relocating your Christmas cactus indoors from its summer location causes the leaves to fall off. This is due to the abrupt temperature shift, yet just a few leaves should fall.
This is quite normal, and there is little you can do about it. The problem should go away once the houseplant has adjusted to its new surroundings.
Keep the plant away from heat sources like vents and fireplaces, as well as drafty windows. Anything that might induce a temperature shift too quickly should be avoided.
In addition to the proper temperature, illumination plays an important part in keeping your Christmas cactus healthy and happy. The Christmas cactus, like any other houseplant, requires enough light to grow. In the summer, though, direct sunshine will cause its lovely foliage to fall off, droop, get sunburned, or even turn purple! Any cactus or succulent that receives too much sunshine will burn. Ouch!
If you have an indoor Christmas cactus, place it in a north-facing window as much as possible. You should also keep in mind that the plant will need to be kept in a dark area for 12 hours a day starting in September to enhance blooming. If you keep it in strong light during these months, your lovely plant will not bloom, and you’ll be left wondering why your Christmas cactus isn’t flowering.
You can relocate your plant from a dark room to your selected display space after the buds develop (as long as it is out of direct sunlight, anywhere around the home will be fine). Usually, we hear about how desert cacti prefer direct sunlight, but Christmas cacti are tropical plants, and they suffer damage from direct sunlight.
Compacted soils promote Oedema by allowing the roots of your Christmas cactus to absorb more water than the leaves can tolerate. Drooping, brown leaves, as well as dry areas, will be visible. The leaves will eventually fall off as a result of this ailment.
The most important thing to note when choosing the finest soil for Christmas cactus is that it must drain effectively. One part potting soil, two parts peat moss, and one part perlite or sand are recommended. Make sure your pot includes drainage holes as well. This ensures that any unnecessary water drains to the bottom. Before you put your plant back on a saucer, make sure the drainage water is gone, so the roots aren’t resting in dirt.
Because the Christmas cactus prefers somewhat acidic soil, you should try adding coffee grounds to it.
The wonderful thing about Christmas cactus is that they don’t need to be repotted or have their soil changed too often. It’ll be OK if you do it every three years.
So, we’ve gone through the four primary reasons why your Christmas cactus leaves are dropping off in great detail. This list is not exhaustive, and additional causes may exist; nonetheless, in our experience, one of the reasons listed above will be the root of the problem nine times out of ten.