Can I plant my Christmas cactus outside, you ask? Can Christmas cactus be outside? The answer is yes, but you can only grow the plant outdoors year round if you live in a warm climate because Christmas cactus is definitely not cold hardy. Growing Christmas cactus outdoors is possible only in USDA plant hardiness zones 9 and above.
How to Grow a Christmas Cactus Outside
If you live in a cool climate, plant Christmas cactus in a container or hanging basket so you can bring it indoors when temperatures fall below 50 F. (10 C.) Use a well-drained potting medium such as a mixture of potting soil, perlite and orchid bark.
A location in light shade or early morning sun is best for growing Christmas cactus outdoors in warmer climates, although a sunnier location is suitable in fall and winter. Beware of intense light, which may bleach the leaves. Temperatures between 70 and 80 F. (21-27 C.) are ideal during the growing season. Be careful of sudden changes in light and temperatures, which may cause the buds to drop.
Christmas Cactus Outdoor Care
As part of your care of Christmas cactus outside, you’ll need to water Christmas cactus when the soil is on the dry side, but not bone dry. Don’t overwater Christmas cactus, especially during the winter months. Soggy soil may result in rot, a fungal disease that is usually deadly.
Christmas cactus outdoor care involves regular inspection for pests. Watch for mealybugs – tiny, sap-sucking pests that thrive in cool, shady conditions. If you notice telltale white cottony masses, pick them off with a toothpick or a cotton swab dipped in alcohol.
A Christmas cactus growing outdoors is also susceptible to aphids, scale and mites, which are easily removed by periodic spraying with insecticidal soap spray or neem oil.
Trim Christmas cactus in early summer by removing two or three segments. A regular trim will promote full, bushy growth.