Have an Overwatered Christmas Cactus? Learn How To Care For It

overwatered christmas cactus care

If you’re like many people, you might be wondering if you’re overwatering your Christmas cactus. This plant is a bit different from a normal cactus, even though it shares the same name. Keep reading to find out if your Christmas cactus symptoms are overwatering or underwatering, and how to care for your overwatered plant!

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Overwatered vs. Underwatered Christmas Cactus

It can be difficult to recognize the difference between overwatered and underwatered plants, since some of the signs are the same. With these 3 easy lists, you should be able to determine which symptoms your plant has

Symptoms of Both Overwatered and Underwatered Christmas Cacti

Symptoms of an Underwatered Christmas Cactus

  • Brown spots on leaves
  • Wilted edges of leaves
  • Soil is dry to the touch
  • Leaves feel like they are drying out

Keep reading about underwatered plants: underwatered jade plant

Symptoms of an Overwatered Christmas Cactus

  • Spongy soil that feels wet to the touch for more than a day or two
  • The yellowing leaves look/feel soggy to touch
  • Mold (white fuzz) growing on top of the soil
  • If your plant is flowering, the flowers will be drooping

The Easiest Determinant Of An Overwatered Christmas Cactus

So what’s the easiest way to decide for certain that you have an overwatered Christmas cactus? Feel the soil. This can even be over a few days, to see if the soil gets less damp over time or stays really moist.

Why Do I Have An Overwatered Christmas Cactus?

There are two main reasons why you have an overwatered Christmas cactus. And they’re both watering issue related. While it is a cactus still, this plant needs a bit more water than a regular cactus. Not a lot, but a bit more. So you may have been overwatering thinking it needed more water than it actually does.

The other reason you might have an overwatered Christmas cactus is the weather. On cloudy weeks, your plant will need less water than on weeks when the sun is out all day. Your plant also just needs less water in the winter than summer. With the cold temperatures and fewer daylight hours, it just doesn’t need as much. So that means that you have to change your watering schedule for the seasonal changes!

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Overwatered Christmas Cactus Care

Once you’ve recognized that your plant is overwatered, you need to act fast. The excess water can damage the roots and leaves of the plant if it’s not removed immediately. Here are some steps to take:

1. Take the pot out of its saucer and empty out any standing water.

2. Let the soil drain completely, then put the plant back in its saucer. If you can, move your plant to a sunnier spot to help dry out the soil.

3. If possible (and if it’s seriously overwatered), repot your Christmas cactus with fresh potting mix to help reduce the moisture levels in the soil. Don’t moisten the soil when you do this. (I suggest using a cactus specific soil, like the Harris Succulent & Cactus Potting Mix.

4. Trim off any yellow or wilted leaves to reduce stress on the plant.

5. Reduce your watering frequency and make sure not to water the plant until the top inch of soil is dry, then only give it just enough water so that the soil is damp (but not soggy) again.

In Summary

If your Christmas cactus is overwatered, you need to act fast. Empty out any standing water, repot the plant with fresh potting mix if possible, trim off any dead or yellow leaves, and reduce the frequency of watering. Remember that this plant needs more water than a regular cactus, but that doesn’t mean as much water as other houseplants.

And with some patience, you should have a happy Christmas cactus again soon!

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

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