Why Are The Leaves of My Christmas Cactus Turning Yellow? 5 Causes

why is my christmas cactus turning yellow

If your Christmas cactus is turning yellow, you’re probably wondering what’s going on and how to fix it pronto! The good news is that it’s usually a simple problem to be fixed, like changing your watering amounts or moving it to a different window.

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Keep reading to find out the 5 main causes of yellow leaves on a Christmas cactus and how to clear up the problem in no time.

Why Is My Christmas Cactus Turning Yellow?

Christmas cactus leaves turning yellow can be caused by a number of things, such as overwatering, underwatering, too much sun, lack of ferilization, or not enough space for the roots anymore.

A quick check before reading further is to just think about your plant care habits – when was the last time you watered your Christmas cactus? Can you remember the last time you fertilized your cactus’ soil? Have you recently moved this plant to a different window, or is the sun coming in at a different angle because of the time of year?

A lot of these same problems cause yellowing on other plants as well, like jade or lavender plants!

Problem 1: Overwatering Causes Christmas Cactus Yellow Leaves

The number one problem people have with their Christmas cactus is overwatering it, which will cause the leaves to turn yellow and eventually fall off. The roots of the plant are very sensitive and will start to rot if they’re sitting in water for too long. And while this plant likes water, it only likes it every so often. Not every week.

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Solution for Overwatering: Water your Christmas cactus less often, and let the soil dry out between watering. If you have bigger issues going on/it doesn’t dry out after a few weeks, look at this article for how to help your overwatered Christmas cactus plant. Keep reading about overwatered Christmas Cacti here.

Problem 2: Underwatering

On the flip side of overwatering, not watering your Christmas cactus enough will also lead to yellow leaves. This plant needs water about every 2-3 weeks, depending on the temperature and humidity in your home. If it’s really hot and dry where you live, you might need to water it a bit more often.

Solution for Underwatering: Water your Christmas cactus more often, making sure the soil is moist (but not wet) each time. And be sure to check the soil at least weekly to feel if it’s dry and needs to be watered.

Problem 3: Too Much Sun Causes Christmas Cactus Leaves to Turn Yellow

Christmas cacti love bright light, but too much sun will cause their leaves to turn yellow. This usually happens when the plant is moved to a different window or the angle of the sun changes because of the time of year.

Solution for Too Much Sun: Move your Christmas cactus to a spot that gets bright light but not direct sunlight. If you don’t have any other windows in your home that will work, you can also try and shade it, or at least move it away from the window.

The same can happen to other plants too, like Calathea plants leaves turning brown.

Problem 4: Needs To Be Fertilized

If your Christmas cactus is yellowing and the leaves are falling off, it might just be because it’s hungry! These plants need to be fertilized about once a month during their growing season (spring and summer), using a balanced fertilizer. Or at the very least, once a year in spring (but more often may be better).

Solution for Fertilizing: Fertilize your Christmas cactus monthly from mid spring to autumn, and occasionally over winter.

I prefer a pump fertilizer, like this Cute Farms Fertilizer, because pump type fertilizers seem to affect my plants quicker than dried.

cute farms succulent cacti fertilizer

Problem 5: Roots Have Outgrown Their Space

Last but not least, if your Christmas cactus is yellowing it might be because its roots have outgrown their pot. The roots need room to grow and breathe, so if they’re too cramped they’ll start to suffocate and the plant will suffer. This one does take a bit more investigating, because you do need to take it out of the pot to see how root bound it is.

Solution for Outgrown Roots: Repot your Christmas cactus into a larger pot after pulling them apart a bit, or trim down the roots a bit and repot into the current pot it’s been living in.

What Do You Do When You Notice Your Christmas Cactus Is Turning Yellow?

So what do you do if you start to think: why is my Christmas cactus turning yellow? You figure out the problem and then work towards fixing it! Remember the leaves or plant won’t change back to green overnight, it may take a few weeks for the leaves to go back to green.

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Looking for information specific to Colorado? Check out Naturalist Perspective!

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