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How to Care for a Christmas Cactus

There’s nothing better than decorating your home for the holidays with a festive plant. One of our favorites? The Christmas cactus!

Remember that there are three types of holiday cactus: the Thanksgiving cactus (Schlumbergera truncata), the Easter cactus (Rhipsalidopsis gaetneri), and the Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera russelliana). Each variety has its own unique characteristics – the Christmas cactus is a particularly beautiful houseplant for the winter season.

“This colorful plant displays its petals in a variety of colors such as red, purple, orange, pink and white and will brighten any room during the holiday season and beyond,” says Alfred Palomares, vice president of merchandising and resident plant father at 1-800- Flowers.com. Additionally, this winter-blooming plant is easy to care for indoors and can continue to bloom year after year with proper care. “In fact, it can live up to 20 years,” says Palomares. “And if you have furry friends at home, this plant is pet-friendly.”

If you want to give the Christmas cactus a try, follow our guide that explains how to grow, flower, propagate, prune and care for this popular Christmas plant.

How to Pot a Christmas Cactus
According to Palomares, you should “choose a planter that has a drainage hole at the bottom to allow water to flow easily through the soil, promoting good circulation and preventing root rot.” You want to avoid trapping water in the pot as this can be life-threatening. “Its new home should be larger than its previous container – about three to six inches larger, depending on the size and length of its roots,” he says.

Here are more of his top topping tips:

Trim the roots if they appear excessive.
Treat your Christmas cactus like a mini compost bin and add a small amount of organic material that would normally be thrown away.
Make sure the plant is not too wet. “Be sure to wait a few days after your last sip of water,” he notes.
Tap the top of the pot so the plant slides out easily. “Retain as much of the original soil as possible, place your plant in the new planter, filling the sides with additional soil as needed, compacting it as you go,” he says.