The Q&A Archives: Christmas Cactus Losing Leaves

Question: My chrismas cactus is growing quite nicely but it loses leaves. They seem to be drying from the outside in and turning yellow/brown. It gets plenty of light and blooms every year. This past year I get alot more light but the new growth doesn't burn so I've ruled that out.

Answer: I suspect you are overwatering it. After blooming, the plant needs a rest period during which it gets very little water -- keep the plant barely moist and sitting in a bright window until new growth starts appearing. Only then should you start feeding it and increasing the amount of water but still allow the top few inches of soil to dry out between waterings. If only a few stems or leaves are dropping, then the plant should be OK. Just cut back on watering, adding moisture only when the top few inches of soil are dry. If the whole plant is shriveling up it may be too late to save it. You can try taking the plant out of the pot and checking the roots. If they are still white and pliable, there's hope. Remove all the old soil from the roots and repot the cactus with new fast draining potting soil for cactus. If the roots are brown and mushy, it's best to start over with a new plant.

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