The Q&A Archives: Christmas Cactus

Question: I have several Christmas Cactus which have this summer developed dry leathery leaves and have shed most of their leaves. Can this be a result of too much heat or too much fertilizer(this is the first time they have ever been fertilized) and is it ok to repot them in Miracle-Gro potting soil? Please offer advice.

Answer: Leathery leaves on what is considered a succulent plant is generally due to lack of water, or too much water which has progressed into a root rot. I'd dig one of the plants up to inspect the roots. The crown of the plant should be firm, not mushy, and the roots should be creamy white rather than brown or rusty color. If everything looks okay below ground, I'd suspect lack of water. Go ahead and repot, removing any diseased or injured roots, then water thoroughly, and water again when the top of the soil begins to dry out. Christmas cactus should be fed every 7-10 days with a diluted solution of liquid fertilizer during the growing and flowering season.

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