Christmas Cactus Pruning/Repotting Questions

donna_cJanuary 6, 2013

Background: My late mother-in-law gave me her large old Christmas Cactus and during the move home a branch broke off. I rooted it by setting it in African Violet mix and wicking it. I later repotted the wicked branch into a self-watering pot. The plant didn't know it wasn't supposed to be grown that way, so it has done well, putting out healthy new segments and blooming around New Year's Day (interesting since the mother plant blooms just before Christmas).


Questions: I'd like to force the plant to become more bushy. Does removal of segments result in a branch splitting into two or more sub-branches? Do you prune your CCs and if so, how many segments do you remove? Is there a way to force more "stems" to grow from the base of the plant?

Since the plant has no drainage, I'm concerned that it might need to be repotted more often than one in a regular pot because of fertilizer salt build-up. When you repot, do you just move it up into a larger pot? Do you massage off the old potting mix from the roots? Can you actually prune some of the roots off and stick it back into the same pot? My other CC and TCs are in regular pots, but I want to keep this one in a self-watering pot as an experiment. I really appreciate any insight you can give!

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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Yes to both questions.
I prune the foliage regularly, and I prune the roots when re-potting.
CC's will often make many new branches from a single cut. Judicious pruning will get
your CC bushy in one season. Low but consistent doses of fertilizer really helps, too.

I would ditch the self-watering container. These plants appreciate a fast-draining mix
of bark, with a bit of Perlite and a pinch of AV soil or Orchid Mix as an afterthought.

Here's a Thread I put together when I re-potted my Christmas Cactus this Autumn:

Christmas Cactus re-potted


This post was edited by greenman28 on Sun, Jan 6, 13 at 20:04

    Bookmark   January 6, 2013 at 3:09PM
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Thanks for the info Josh! The bushiness of your plant is exactly what I had in mind. I'll also do some trimming on the mother plant and the other CC and TC plants I inherited. They are bushy, but most of the flowers are low, so by trimming I can get some blooms next year at different levels like yours.

When I repotted the other CCs they were in dirt that was the consistency of cement. I thought I'd have to break the containers to get the plants out. They're pretty hardy things to have survived without repotting for many years in that dirt. I'll try your mix when it's time to repot again.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2013 at 5:41PM
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