How to get a Christmas cactus to bloom for an explosion of colour this winter

All the tips you need to get your Christmas cactus blooming

How to get Christmas cactus to bloom close-up of christmas cactus with pink flowers
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Knowing how to get Christmas cactus to bloom will ensure that you can enjoy its beautiful flowers year after year.

Popular throughout the coldest months of the year, caring for a christmas cactus brings life to your home – erupting in an explosion of colour from November to January. In most cases, your Christmas cactus will reliably flower each year, but there are things you can do to foster better and longer blooms. 

close-up of christmas cactus with pink flowers

(Image credit: Getty Images)

How to get Christmas cactus to bloom

One of our favourite houseplant ideas, the Christmas cactus makes for the perfect festive gift or Christmas table centrepiece idea. However, in order to ensure blooms, pre-flowering care is essential. 

'During October and November, Christmas cactus plants should be kept relatively dry and cool until flower buds begin to appear,' says Evie Brownlee, plant expert at Grow Urban. 'The Christmas cactus should be fed during the spring and summer with a cacti and succulent feed.'

Light levels are also key to getting your Christmas cactus to bloom. 'Christmas Cactus need darkness to encourage them to flower so once the nights are darker and it gets at least 13 hours of darkness a day, then it will start to bud and bloom,' says Morag Hill, owner of The Little Botanical

Once your Christmas cactus is forming buds, 'feeding your it with a high potassium feed can encourage longer-lasting blooms,' says experts from the RHS.

Macro image of the bud of a Christmas Cactus

(Image credit: Getty Images)

What to do after Christmas cactus has bloomed?

Once your Christmas cactus has bloomed, it is important that you continue your Christmas cactus care – otherwise, you might not get flowers next year. 

'Post flowering, they also require a resting period from when the blooms die back to March,' says Evie Brownlee, plant expert at Grow Urban. 'Once flowering is complete this genus requires repotting annually. Repot with a cactus and succulent compost to ensure the plant the correct amount of drainage.'

close-up of christmas cactus with pink flowers

(Image credit: Getty Images)

What to do if your Christmas cactus doesn't flower?

If your Christmas cactus doesn't flower, start by repotting it with a free draining compost. 'Use a mix of 60% peat-free substrate at 20% perlite or grit and 20% fine-graded orchid bark,' recommends experts at the RHS

This will increase the amount of nutrients in the soil which can encourage blooming. 'I like to let medium get slightly dry between watering. During the warmer growing months, this should be done once or twice a week, though this can be reduced in the winter.'

It is also important to make sure that your Christmas cactus is not suffering from any draughts (hot or cold) and that it is getting at least 13 hours of darkness per day. 

Close up of the flower of a pink Christmas cactus

(Image credit: Getty Images)


Do Christmas cactus flowers fall off?

Yes, Christmas cactus flowers fall off when they have finished blooming. It is important to remove these to prevent the spread of disease. However, if fresh blooms or buds are dropping, this is a sign that something is wrong. The problem could be a change in climate or location (drafts of hot or cold air can cause the buds to drop); or too much or too little water.

'Once buds have formed on the plant it must not be moved, this will cause the buds to drop off,' adds Natalie Bourn, shop manager of Between Two Thorns.

What is the best temperature for Christmas cactus to bloom?

'Once buds appear on a Christmas cactus and during the flowering period a temperature of 18 ̊C to 21 ̊C is best,' says Natalie Bourn, shop manager of Between Two Thorns. 'During the rest period – the time period immediately after flowering – the plant should be kept between 10 ̊C and 15 ̊C.'

Get your cactus blooming a vibrant pink to fill your home with colour this winter.

Holly Reaney
Content Editor

Holly is one of Ideal Home’s content editors. Starting her career in 2018 as a feature writer and sub-editor for Period Living magazine, she has continued this role also adding regular features for Country Homes & Interiors and the Ideal Home website to her roster.  Holly has a passion for traditional and country-inspired interiors – especially kitchen design – and is happiest when exploring the countryside and hills of the Lake District. A keen gardener, she is a strong believer that you can never have too many houseplants.