How to repot a Christmas cactus for a thriving plant long after the festive season

The step-by-step guide to repotting a Christmas cactus as advised by experts

Christmas cactus
(Image credit: Getty Images/morgenstjerne)

Alongside poinsettia and amaryllis, a Christmas cactus is a go-to plant to bring vibrant colour to your home during the festive season. But if you have had your Christmas cactus for a few years the roots will have grown and you will need to know how to repot a Christmas cactus to ensure it continues to thrive.

Regular repotting is an essential part of Christmas cactus care, which should be performed every 2 to 3 years or when the current plant pot is getting too small for the roots.

But getting the techniques and essentials right is crucial to ensuring your repotting will be a success. That’s why we turned to our plant and gardening experts for a helping hand in the matter. But rest assured, it couldn’t be easier once you know what to do.

Christmas cactus

(Image credit: Getty Images/Nadya So)

How to repot a Christmas cactus

If you want to avoid having Christmas cactus problems, then regularly repotting your plant is key. Doing so every 2 to 3 years is optimal but you should also keep an eye on the rootball filling the pot. This is a clear sign that it’s time to repot to a larger container.

What you’ll need

Christmas cactus potting

(Image credit: Getty Images/Nelly Senko)

How to repot a Christmas cactus - step-by-step

Start the repotting process by choosing the right pot you’ll be transferring your plant into. 

1. Choose the right planter

‘Choose a planter that has a drainage hole at the bottom to allow water to move easily throughout the soil, promoting good water circulation and avoiding root rot. This way, you'll prevent water from getting trapped in the pot, which can be fatal for the plant,’ recommends Petar Ivanov, gardening expert at Fantastic Gardeners.

‘Their new pot should also be larger than its previous container, about 8 to 16 centimetres bigger depending on its size and how long its roots are. Christmas cacti grow wide, so a wider pot will be a better choice than a deep one to provide your plant with stability.’

2. Remove the cactus from the current pot

Then remove the cactus from its current pot – and there is a method for that.

‘Turn it upside down in its current pot and gently tap it,’ says Steve Chilton, garden expert at LeisureBench. ‘This should loosen the roots and make it easy to lift the plant out of the pot. Hold the base of the stem when you do this.’

Christmas cactus

(Image credit: Getty Images/skhoward)
Petar Ivanov portrait
Petar Ivanov

Petar Ivanov is one of the company's top-performing experts and manages over six teams of gardeners, delivering stunning landscape results and fostering a deep connection with nature through his work.

3. Trim the roots

Once it’s out, trim the roots if necessary. ‘Inspect the roots, trimming any damaged or unhealthy roots,’ advises Jack Sutcliffe, co-founder of shed manufacturer, Power Sheds.

4. Put new soil in the new pot

He continues, ‘Prepare a well-draining, slightly acidic potting mix, and place a layer at the new pot's bottom. Set the cactus in the centre of the pot at the same level as before. Fill the remaining space with fresh potting mix.’

5. Water

Then, once the soil is firmed, it’s time to water. ‘Water and let the plant sit for a couple of days in a shaded spot to recover and settle into its new pot,’ Steve advises.

Then you can water as often as you should water a Christmas cactus. And you’re done.

Steve Chilton portrait
Steve Chilton

Steve is a passionate and knowledgeable garden expert with several years of experience within the field. As the director of LeisureBench, an industry-leading garden furniture company, Steve has developed strong expertise for all things nature and plants. 

Christmas cactus

(Image credit: Getty Images/Olga Ionina)

FAQs

What kind of potting soil does a Christmas cactus need?

A well-draining soil suitable for succulent is best to use when repotting your Christmas cactus.

‘A well-draining, slightly acidic to neutral potting mix, with plenty of organic matter,’ Jack says.

When should a Christmas cactus be repotted?

‘The best time to repot is after the plant has finished blooming, usually in late winter to early spring,’ Jack advises.

While it’s something that’s done only every couple of years, it is still an important step in Christmas cactus care that certainly shouldn’t be forgotten.

News Writer

Sara Hesikova has been Ideal Home’s News Writer since July 2023, bringing the Ideal Home’s readership breaking news stories from the world of home decor and interiors, as well as trend-led pieces, shopping round-ups and more. Graduating from London College of Fashion with a bachelor’s degree in fashion journalism in 2016, she got her start in niche fashion and lifestyle magazines like Glass and Alvar as a writer and editor before making the leap into interiors, working with the likes of 91 Magazine and copywriting for luxury bed linen brand Yves Delorme among others. She feels that fashion and interiors are intrinsically connected – if someone puts an effort into what they wear, they most likely also care about what they surround themselves with.