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Are you wondering about the best soil Christmas Cactus? Choosing an appropriate potting mix for your Christmas cactus plants is important for the overall health of your plants. The soil recommendations in this post will also work for the very closely related Thanksgiving cactus as well, and also for Easter Cactus plants.
Before I get into the best soil for Christmas cactus, it is helpful to understand how this popular houseplant grows in nature.
ABOUT CHRISTMAS CACTUS
The Christmas Cactus (often known in the trade as Schlumbergera x buckleyi) is actually a hybrid of Schlumbergera russelliana and Schlumbergera truncata.
Schlumbergera russelliana sometimes goes by the synonym Schlumbergera bridgesii, and Schlumbergera truncata is commonly known as Thanksgiving cactus.
Christmas cacti and Thanksgiving cacti are sometimes generically called Holiday cacti because they tend to bloom around those respective holidays.
As confusing as all the botanical names are, Schlumbergera genus contains 7 species and they are all epiphytic cacti native to Brazil. This means that they grow mainly on tree branches or shrubs, so they are used to excellent, very sharp drainage in their native environment.
Even though they are not desert cacti, they are indeed cacti even though they grow in the jungle.
BEST SOIL FOR CHRISTMAS CACTUS
Due to their epiphytic nature, these plants require really good drainage, which entails both having drainage holes in the pots that you grow them in, as well as a well-draining soil.
I tend never to use regular potting soil out of the bag by itself. Most potting mixes on the market hold too much water and aren’t well-drained enough.
For this reason, I’m recommending two DIY mixes that you can easily blend on your own, or if you don’t want to bother with that, there is a company that makes superior potting mixes that you can use straight out of the bag.
1. TROPICAL SUCCULENT SOIL BLEND
Why is the Tropical Succulent Soil Blend amazing, besides receiving 10% off automatically simply by using my link?
It is specifically designed for tropical succulents like Christmas Cactus plants. It has excellent drainage, while still holding enough moisture and allowing plenty of oxygen to the plant’s roots.
Here are more reasons why this is an exceptional mix:
- Sustainable ingredients are used in their blends. Peat moss is not used, and Oh Happy Plants uses coco coir and coco chips instead.
- Even the bags and labels are compostable!
- If you are not a fan of perlite, none of their mixes use perlite (which tends to float to the top when watering your soil).
- The blend is nutritious and uses real ingredients like alfalfa meal, flax seed meal and rock dust to ensure a slow release of nutrients for your plants.
- A mycorrhizal inoculant is used which improves plant health and vigor, and increases disease resistance naturally!
- Charcoal is also used in the blend, which helps create a healthy environment for the root ball of your Christmas cactus.
I highly recommend giving Tropical Succulent Soil Blend a try for your Christmas cacti.
2. DIY BLEND WITH PUMICE
If you want a simple mix that you can blend at home, I’ve used this mix which works beautifully too.
Like I mentioned earlier, I don’t like most mixes straight out of the bag, even if it is a cactus mix or succulent mix. Although they are formulated to dry out faster, they still don’t drain well enough for my liking.
This is why I like to amend any cactus/succulent mixes with pumice. I like to use two parts of a cactus/succulent mix and 1 part pumice. I really love the 1/4″ horticultural pumice (link to Amazon) from Bonsai Jack’s. It is always uniform and in size and quality.
The pumice helps to create a really well-drained soil.
3. DIY BLEND USING ORCHID BARK AND PERLITE
Lastly, you can make your own DIY mix of equal parts all-purpose potting mix, perlite, and orchid bark. Keep in mind that the chunkier the potting mix, the more quickly your Christmas cactus will dry out.
This mix results in a very sharply draining blend, with plenty of oxygen to your plant’s roots, and you may be watering more frequently.
Regardless of which potting mix you use, water again whenever the top inch of soil has dried out, however long that takes. Allowing the top inch to dry out will also help to deter fungus gnats.
REPOTTING CHRISTMAS CACTUS
The Christmas cactus bloom period, as you would expect, is typically during the winter season. A good time to repot would be after the bloom period is ramping down or over.
Anytime during the growing season, after flowering, is the best time to repot. Try and avoid repotting much after the summer months, as it may be too close to when your plant will be setting flower buds.
Smaller plants may bloom from early winter to late winter, and large plants can often continue blooming through late spring, so you can time repotting your plant until your plant is done blooming.
When choosing a new pot, always make sure that you have a drainage hole at the bottom of the pot so excess water can drain away.
As a general rule of thumb, only go up one pot size, which are usually in 2-inch increments of diameter. For example, if your plant is in a 4-inch diameter pot, go up to a 6-inch diameter pot and no bigger.
This is so you don’t have a huge excess of soil, which would take much longer for your soil to dry out.
Clay pots (terra cotta pots) will dry out your soil a lot more quickly than other types of pots since they are very porous. They can be wonderful, since they provide more air to your plant’s roots, but keep a close eye on watering since the soil will dry out more quickly.
For more detailed information, check out my Christmas cactus care post for proper care of your plants.