Ask a Question forum: Christmas cactus

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pandat
Nov 18, 2017 12:30 PM CST
Hi, I recently bought 2 xmas cactus. The research I have done says DONT repot when in bloom or if buds are on the cactus!!! BUT it also says if the roots are coming out of the drainage holes you have to repot!!!! Well....mine has both!!! What do I do???????
Name: Daisy I
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DaisyI
Nov 18, 2017 12:35 PM CST
I wouldn't worry about transplanting it, even if you do see roots. These plants are naturally epiphytic (they grow on trees or rocks in the jungle). Enjoy you flowers!
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Name: Frenchy
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Frenchy21
Nov 18, 2017 12:38 PM CST
Welcome Pandat Smiling If you disturb your plant too much you will lose buds or they will not open up. Wait until all the blooming is finished.
Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
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WillC
Nov 19, 2017 11:52 AM CST
Definitely do NOT repot now or possibly ever. The notion that roots coming out of a drain hole means the plant needs a larger pot is simply not true for your Holiday Cactus or most other plants.

Enjoy the flowers while they last and then give it a mild rest (slightly less water) after the flowers are spent.
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Name: Tiffany purpleinopp
Opp, AL 🌵🌷⚘🌹🌻 (Zone 8b)
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purpleinopp
Nov 19, 2017 12:15 PM CST
I also subscribe to the golden rule of not fixing the unbroken. Your plant sounds quite happy if it's in the process of blooming. Epiphytic plants need to access significant amounts of air/oxygen through their roots to remain healthy. One way a potted plant can do that is to grow roots out of the drain holes.

In regard to the theoretical discussion, I don't use a one-size-fits-all approach. A larger pot/volume of soil may never be needed, but a change of soil could be if there are organic components in the soil that degrade into smaller particles that cause the soil to be devoid of oxygen, or if outside and exposed to wind that can cause sand & grit to accumulate in pots over time. The health of a plant above the soil is a mirror of the health of the roots.

This individual has been repotted several times over the past 6-7 yrs, and yielded many cuttings to share with others. The original roots that came from the store were hopelessly enmeshed in that horrible stifling peat that can't be separated from roots and they eventually rotted after a few years. The same thing happened with a Hoya that everyone insisted I should never repot. Luckily I took cuttings of it too. The only way to save plants like that is to propagate and move forward with healthy new roots in any other kind of "soil." I'm sure root rot can occur without peat being involved, but it hasn't happened yet to any of my plants.
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Name: Will Creed
NYC
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WillC
Nov 19, 2017 3:58 PM CST
Tiffany - My experience with indoor potted plants is very different. Most are potted in a mix of peat moss and perlite. It is the perlite that provides the porosity necessary to hold both water and oxygen. Unlike vermiculite, which is rarely used anymore, perlite does not compact or break down even after many years. In addition, whatever compacting does occur is very gradual and plant roots seem to adapt to that. I have cared for thousands of plants over the years and have never found it necessary to repot for the purpose of changing the soil and increasing porosity.

Outdoor plants are another matter as are potting mixes that have a lot of compost, bark chips and sand.
Will Creed
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I now have a book available on indoor plant care
Name: Tiffany purpleinopp
Opp, AL 🌵🌷⚘🌹🌻 (Zone 8b)
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purpleinopp
Nov 20, 2017 9:40 AM CST
Yes, it would be awesome if plants were sold in soil with a lot of perlite, some are, many are not. Anything but peat, or the even worse fibrous peat that can not be separated from roots. I've found a couple recently that were in cococoir/cocopeat, incredibly awesome stuff compared to peat, and I repotted those only because the plants became ridiculously top-heavy and thirsty way too often in the smaller pots. I've found some with bits of styrofoam masquerading as peat. Not all plants arrive at stores in horrible "soil." I hope nobody is buying any soils with sand.

I don't like perlite, so what I am doing is done in regard to avoidance of having those white bits interrupting my personal enjoyment of plants. When I repot, I dump old soil in flower beds and I don't have to worry about the white bits persisting there. This is a personal preference, and what is working well for me/my plants, not instructions for others unless they share the preference.

Not everyone is doing something comparable to what you do, or to what I do, and it should be recognized that a 1-size-fits-all approach just doesn't apply to plants. I don't try to force that my mindset, preferences, or style on anyone, or discount their experiences that are different from mine.
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Faridat
Nov 21, 2017 5:23 AM CST
@purpleinopp, I have to agree, as it happened to me, the soil sold for indoor plants had no perlite in it, yet it was sold as suitable. I will only buy soil only from my neighborhood nursery from now on! I also agree with the perlite, it does actually worsen the soil aesthetically, and I agree when used outside, but is there an alternative when used for indoor plants, pots and containers that are kept inside the house? Thank you for reading.
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Name: Tiffany purpleinopp
Opp, AL 🌵🌷⚘🌹🌻 (Zone 8b)
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purpleinopp
Nov 21, 2017 10:19 AM CST
I would gladly use tons of perlite if I didn't do the dump into flower beds, largely for the reason Will mentioned, that it does not decompose. Ones' sense of aesthetic is so personal, subjective, and the one I expressed in this instance has nothing to do with the growing of the potted plants, just the aftermath and "looking at the dirt." Within the realm of potted houseplants, there are tons of things that some people are doing and others are not, for an infinite number of reasons.

Other substances that could be used for roots that need more air are bark, chicken grit, lava rock, probably other stuff not coming to mind. I don't worry much about what is going into a pot, as long as it's not small particles of anything, peat, sand, silt/clay, especially for any epiphytic plants like any of the holiday cacti specifically asked about in this discussion.

Unglazed clay pot is always a way to allow roots to access more oxygen. A thin layer of aquarium gravel or similar can hide the soil, but does reduce the exchange of air/oxygen at the soil surface. A creeping ground cover type plant can also hide soil.
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Name: Cheryl
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ShadyGreenThumb
Nov 21, 2017 5:35 PM CST
I have not been able to be overly successful with my Holiday Cacti because of the horrid peat they use when planting it. It is impossible to transplant without harming the plant and what I have is from cuttings. That takes forever to get the giant bush i dream of. Peat must be cheap. Seems all house plants are planted into it! Grumbling
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Name: Tiffany purpleinopp
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purpleinopp
Nov 22, 2017 5:02 AM CST
That's been my experience too from buying plants enmeshed in that fibrous peat, almost like a sponge. Hardly any roots ever survive this for more than a few years, whether repotted or not. I always propagate these plants immediately. The cactuscollection.com/Altman succulents are the worst. I wish they'd just sell cuttings.

I will be looking for any holiday cacti for sale this year but I won't buy any in soil that won't fall easily off of the roots.

It's possible these plants might survive in another location, in the care of someone else. I'm not saying they wouldn't. Just sharing what does & doesn't work for me.
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Name: Will Creed
NYC
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WillC
Nov 22, 2017 1:25 PM CST
Again, I have never had a problem with plants potted in peat-based soilless potting mixes. Most nursery growers use peat-based potting mixes and their livelihood depends on using potting mixes that work well.

If peat is allowed to get too dry, then it does become difficult to rewet and almost water repellent. But it is not generally a good idea to let the soil get that dry anyway.

In my experience, a well-rooted plant will have the potting mix enveloped nicely by a mesh of roots around the rootball and should not fall away easily when unpotted.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
I now have a book available on indoor plant care

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