Potting Mix For Christmas Cactus: Christmas Cactus Soil Requirements

Root Rot In Christmas Cactus
(Image credit: petrovval)

Christmas cactus is a popular gift and houseplant. Blooming specifically during periods with long nights, it’s a welcome flash of color in the dead of winter. If you’re looking to plant or repot a Christmas cactus, however, you should be aware of a few specific soil requirements to ensure a good bloom in the next season. Keep reading to learn about soil requirements for Christmas cactus.

Christmas Cactus Soil Requirements

In its native Brazil, the Christmas cactus has very specific growing conditions. It’s an epiphyte, meaning it grows on the trunks of larger trees and gains most of its moisture from the air. It sinks its roots into decomposing leaves and debris resting on the sides of trees. 

It also draws some moisture from this makeshift soil, but because of its small volume and position high in the air, this soil dries out easily even with daily rainfall. This means that the best soil for Christmas cactus is extremely well draining.

How to Make a Potting Mix for Christmas Cactus

You can buy commercial potting mixes for cacti that will ensure good drainage. With just a little effort, however, you can make your own. The easiest medium requires three parts regular potting soil mixed with two parts perlite. This will provide perfectly adequate drainage. 

If you’d like to take it a step further, mix equal parts compost, perlite, and milled peat. Water your Christmas cactus whenever the soil is dry - try not to let the soil dry out completely, but don’t let water stand in the pot or the saucer underneath. Drainage is much more important than water volume. 

Used to growing in small nooks on trees, the Christmas cactus likes being slightly root bound. Plant it in a pot that provides just a little room for growth, and transplant it no more frequently than every three years.

Liz Baessler
Senior Editor

The only child of a horticulturist and an English teacher, Liz Baessler was destined to become a gardening editor. She has been with Gardening Know how since 2015, and a Senior Editor since 2020. She holds a BA in English from Brandeis University and an MA in English from the University of Geneva, Switzerland. After years of gardening in containers and community garden plots, she finally has a backyard of her own, which she is systematically filling with vegetables and flowers.