Common Holiday Cactus Problems

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The Christmas Cactus (Schlumbergera bridgesii or Schlumbergera x buckleyi), Thanksgiving Cactus (Schlumbergera truncata) and Easter Cactus (Schlumbergera gaertneri) are all Holiday Cacti.

These plants are great as indoor houseplants and are especially popular during holiday times. Brightening up the holidays they’re named after with their colorful flowers.

But what if your winter-blooming plant doesn’t flower? Or you see buds starting to grow, happy dance, and then they suddenly all drop. Sadface.

Let me tell you those are very common problems with indoor holiday cactus plants.

Keep reading for all typical issues you can have with your Christmas, Thanksgiving, or Easter cactus.

And more importantly, what you can do to fix it!

Don’t see your Holiday Cactus problem listed? Leave a comment with your question down below, and I will try to answer it asap. Let’s talk plants!

Budding Thanksgiving Cactus Plant. Why is your Holiday Cactus dropping flower buds? And other common problems).

READ: Start off with all the basic care tips to grow your Christmas, Thanksgiving, or Easter Cactus.

Holiday Cactus Dropping Flower Buds

First of all, it is perfectly normal for your holiday cactus to drop a few flower buds in the process. No need to do anything.

A holiday cactus plant knows how many flowers it can grow. It will drop an occasional bud if it has too many and doesn’t have the strength to grow them all fully.

When a lot of buds or flowers suddenly drop, it is a sign of a bigger problem.

Usually, the reason for your holiday cactus to drop its buds or flowers is that the plant went through a sudden change in temperature or light.

Did you just move your plant maybe?

Holiday cacti like things to stay the same. They get stressed when they get moved. Their stress shows when the buds or flowers drop.

This also explains why many plants drop buds right after purchase. Traveling from the growers’ greenhouse to the store, then to your home was too much movement.

On top of that, the flower buds will always turn towards the light. When they get moved around, the buds keep turning, until they eventually fall off.

So don’t move your plant too much.

Unless you’re giving it a dark treatment to get it to flower.

TIP: Mark your planter pot on the back so you know how to return your plant after watering.

Another reason for buds or flowers to drop from your holiday cactus could be overwatering. When you overwater, it can cause root rot. The rot can cut off water to the rest of the plant which will cause bud drop.

One last thing to check is the humidity around your holiday cactus. If it’s too low, that too can cause buds and flowers to dry up and drop.

Green Thanksgiving Cactus plant. Why is your Holiday Cactus not flowering?

Holiday Cactus won’t Bloom

It happens. A lot.

You maybe got it last year. It came with all these buds ready to flower. It was gorgeous. After that, you cared for it throughout the year.

Now the holidays are approaching and your holiday cactus is not blooming.

Holiday cacti will want to bloom as the days shorten and temperature drops.

This means that when your plant gets too much light or too high temperatures it won’t be triggered to start the blooming process.

By giving your plant a dark treatment starting 6-8 weeks before the desired bloom time you can mimic the natural habitat of your holiday cactus. And get it to bloom!

Holiday Cactus Dropping Leaves

When a Christmas cactus or Thanksgiving cactus drops its leaves, it is trying to show you that something is wrong. It’s the plants’ way of talking to you.

Now this is something I need to mention, those green, flat ‘leaves’ are actually segmented stems. They are just called leaves by many people.

A common cause of leaves dropping from a holiday cactus is too much water. Either by overwatering or because the pot doesn’t have any drainage holes in the bottom. When the soil stays wet for too long it can cause the plant to rot, which in turn causes those stem segments to drop.

TIP: If your pot doesn’t have drainage holes, hurry and repot your plant in a pot that does!

Holiday Cactus has Limp Leaves

Holiday cactus plants wilting and turning limp is another common problem.

This is often caused by a lack of water or too much direct sunlight.

Usually its the lack of water. You may be watering either too little or not often enough. Thin and shriveled stem segments appear when your plant is dehydrated.

I’ve seen some bad cases of limp and neglected holiday cacti. The good thing is, that with the right care, these strong plants can perk up rather quickly.

To fix and rescue your plant, begin by giving the plant a little bit of water. Don’t soak it straight away. Continue to water sparingly every few days until the soil is lightly moist. Your plant should soon look a lot better!

READ: How to know its time water your indoor plants.

Thanksgiving cactus with red stem segments. What happened to your Holiday Cactus, why is it turning red?
Red or Purple Leaves on your Holiday Cactus. Why is this happening?

Red Leaves on a Holiday Cactus

Stem segments getting a reddish hue and slowly turning a deeper red or purple can happen to Christmas Cacti, Thanksgiving Cacti, and the Easter Cacti.

When this happens, your plant is again trying to tell you something. It is saying that it went through some type of stress.

This is usually due to a lack of nutrients and being exposed to way too much bright light.

It happens a lot during the summer. Plants can get sunburnt too.

The easy fix is to move your plant to another spot where it gets less direct sunlight.

If it’s a lack of nutrients, fix it by using an organic plant fertilizer.

Are Holiday Cacti Save for Pets?


The Animal Poison Control Center lists the Christmas cactus as non-toxic.

READ: Toxic plants and Pets. How to keep it safe.

Where to Buy Holiday Cactus Plants

Around the holidays, Christmas Cactus, Thanksgiving Cactus, and Easter Cactus plants are commonly sold in most nurseries and garden centers.

If you don’t live near a nursery or want to buy a Christmas cactus or Thanksgiving cactus when they are not in season, there are a number of plant growers that sell them online on Amazon and Etsy.

READ: Where and How to buy indoor plants. Get all the tips!

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