Christmas cactus watering tips: essential advice for these festive plants

These Christmas cactus watering tips will keep your colorful houseplants looking their best

Christmas cactus
(Image credit: Olga_Anourina/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images)

There are some essential Christmas cactus watering tips that will up your chance of success with these beautiful, blooming plants. As we all know, watering is a key maintenance job for any houseplant (or indeed, garden plant). But, there are some right and wrong ways to go about it, and the wrong ways can do more harm than good.

We explain the things to bear in mind before you reach for your watering can, so you can provide the best Christmas cactus care possible.

christmas cactus plants on window sill

Christmas cacti like humid environments

(Image credit: Nadya So/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images)

4 Christmas cactus watering tips for top houseplant care

This advice will keep these glorious Christmas plants thriving through the festive season and beyond.

1. Keep the humidity levels high

Hailing from coastal, mountainous, jungle regions in Brazil, these pretty succulents like humid conditions and plenty of warmth. So, for the best results, you'll need to take steps to recreate this type of environment in your home.

Similar to calathea care, regular misting is beneficial, as is standing the pots on trays of wet gravel. Keep them away from radiators, and consider using them as bathroom or kitchen plants – rooms where the air is naturally more humid.

red and orange Christmas cactus

With the right care, these plants will produce colorful blooms

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2. Don't underwater your Christmas cactus

As well as keeping the air humid, you'll also need to water your Christmas cactus. Not doing so can result in the buds of your Christmas cactus falling off before they've burst into bloom.

'In nature, the plant colonizes sunny river and streamside banks and is splashed with water. If you deprive it of moisture, the roots die and shoots will wither,' explains the experts at Amateur Gardening magazine.

In general, you should water your plant when the compost starts to dry a little and the pot feels light, they add.

Pink Christmas cactus in pot

Providing the right amount of water is key

(Image credit: Kostas Anastassiu/Alamy Stock Photo)

3. But, avoid overwatering your Christmas cactus, too

Overwatering indoor plants almost always leads to problems. It is one of the biggest killers of the Christmas cactus, as it can lead to diseases such as white rot. It can also cause the leaves to drop off.

'Only water when the top two inches of soil are completely dry, so use your finger or a pencil to test its moisture levels before each water,' says the team at Baby Bio® (opens in new tab). If it feels dry, aerate the soil before watering to allow for an even distribution, they add.

When planting your Christmas cactus, be sure to use a pot with drainage holes which will reduce the chance of it becoming waterlogged. Adding horticultural grit to the compost will help, too.

watering a Christmas cactus

Getting your watering routine right is essential for these plants

(Image credit: Olga_Anourina/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images)

4. Use the right sort of water

Use lime-free water – clean rainwater collected from the garden is ideal, says the Amateur Gardening experts. 

It's also best to use tepid water, advises the team at Baby Bio®, otherwise you may shock your plant and cause damage.

Christmas cactus with pink flowers

Try to use rainwater on these plants

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How often should you water a Christmas cactus?

As the Christmas cactus watering tips listed above demonstrate, getting the balance between overwatering and underwatering right is essential for the best results. This means paying careful attention to your indoor plant and its soil, and adjusting your watering schedule accordingly.

Generally, though, err on the side of caution. 'They only require watering once every couple of weeks during the summer, and as little as once a month during winter,' says the team at Baby Bio®. 

Holly Crossley
Senior Content Editor

The garden was always a big part of Holly's life growing up, as was the surrounding New Forest where she lived. Her appreciation for the great outdoors has only grown since then. She's been an allotment keeper, a professional gardener, and a botanical illustrator – plants are her passion.