Bedding plants

Christmas cactus is losing leaves - why it is and what you can do


If the Christmas cactus loses its leaves or limbs, it is always a sign that something is "bothering" it. We reveal what it can be.

The Christmas cactus is a very popular houseplant in Germany, which stands out in winter thanks to beautiful flowers in red, pink, white or orange and thus visually emphasizes the Christmas season. The cactus, which originates from the Brazilian rainforest, is available in many subspecies, some of which are very rare and threatened with existence. The species available here, however, prove to be very easy to care for, with which even beginners can hardly do anything wrong. Nevertheless, it occasionally happens that the Christmas cactus loses parts of its leaves or limbs, or that its buds hang down unsightly and look anything but healthy. What can that be - and more importantly, what can you do about it?

Interesting facts about the Christmas cactus

Most Christmas cacti manage to spread, grow well and impress with their attractive flowers in winter without any effort. When it comes to watering, chalky water is not well tolerated - which is often the reason for a not so healthy appearance. The plant hardly needs any fertilizer, since it originally comes from areas that are poor in nutrients. Otherwise, the exciting crop is very easy to care for and rewards its owner with optimal blooms for several weeks under optimal conditions. Repotting is not necessary as often, as is cutting - so even beginners can't really go wrong with the Christmas cactus. Still, an unhealthy look happens from time to time.

The flowers hang down or fall off - why?

A common problem is that the cactus buds or flowers sag limply and are anything but ready to flower. This can either be due to calcareous water or - more likely - because the plant has been moved and moved too often. The Christmas cactus, with its flowers and growth, is based on sunlight. If you move it against this direction or if you even change it completely, it only tolerates it moderately.

The consequence: Leaves or limbs look limp, the ends of the buds hang down a bit and you don't expect any flowers on their own - which is because the cactus first has to get used to the new direction and should strengthen itself with its limbs to realign them. Either you prevent by changing as little as possible, or you give the plant back its old place. Otherwise, you have to give her a little time to relax. The best way to do this is to place it in a somewhat cooler, darker room until it recovers - this usually results in a rich floral display.

The leaves are falling - what is the reason?

If entire limbs of the Christmas cactus fall off and appear slightly woody at the beginning, the plant is usually not doing too well. Several factors can be responsible for dropping the limbs here:

  • wrong casting
  • a root damage
  • wrong room temperature

In this case, it is important to examine all options and adapt the care to all requirements in order to save the cactus - otherwise, large parts of the plant may soon die.

Check the root ball

First of all, carefully check the root ball of the plant. This is usually compact and compact, so it does not necessarily mean that the plant is in a pot that is too small if the root ball is smaller than the cactus itself. If the root ball looks musty, rot or has mold, it has become possibly waterlogged on this. The only thing left to do is to remove the affected parts of the roots carefully and as little as possible, and to insert the root ball into fresh, well drained soil. With the watering you can wait until the earth looks a little drier. Clay granules can also be inserted into the new soil to better prevent waterlogging.

Check pouring behavior

On the other hand, if the roots look perfectly fine, one should rule out that the casting off of the limbs is caused by incorrect watering. Always use lime-free water that has boiled or that comes from the rain barrel. A slight moisture is okay, moisture should be prevented. In general, it is important to water a little less when it is cool - it can still be a little more when it is warm. You should note that the cactus needs a break in a dark, cool place after flowering - during this time watering should be avoided, as well as fertilizing.

Wrong location

The cactus may also be too close to a sunny window and is easily burned by the heat, which leads to limb dropping. In this case, the cactus should be placed on a north or south window, where it receives indirect light and no heat is generated. However, the roots like it a little warmer, so they can be placed quietly over a heater. It may also be that the dropping took place in the root area due to a too cold temperature.

Maybe the plant is rejuvenating?

If the Christmas cactus throws off its leaves or limbs, it may also be because it rejuvenates itself. This happens very rarely, but is already known to some holders of the plant. The plant may have grown too rapidly and can no longer supply long shoots or heavily distributed parts itself, so that "unimportant" items are first disposed of. Some plants look quite puny during this process, but you should avoid panic here - because most cacti also recover. The cactus may also take a break, so that it is best to bring it into a darker room with cooler temperatures above 10 degrees during this time - this will stimulate its flowering so that it may recover more quickly.

Limb dropping in the Christmas cactus - all possibilities at a glance