How to Fix a Limp Christmas Cactus For Bright and Flourishing Festive Foliage

Plant experts reveal the important steps to take to turn the health of your Christmas cactus around

A limp Christmas cactus
(Image credit: Alamy)

A Christmas cactus makes a great contemporary twist on traditional festive foliage. If you're bored of poinsettias, these plants provide beautiful pink blooms that brighten up any space, but only when your cactus is in good health. 

With its green stems and unusual pink flowers, the Christmas cactus can make a real statement in your home, but limp, lackluster leaves are the reality for many of us. If this sounds familiar, you're forgiven - there's no denying that houseplant care is difficult this time of year - but the good news is, the Christmas cactus makes a great houseplant for beginners.

Thankfully, there are plant experts out there who know how to provide the necessary care to keep these plants happy and healthy for flourishing festive foliage throughout the season. We spoke to some of them to get their top tips on how to turn a limp, lifeless-looking cactus into a glorious display of festive decor in no time at all. 

Why are my Christmas cactus leaves limp?

A Christmas cactus in bloom

(Image credit: Thom GourleyFlatbread Images, LLC/Alamy Stock Photo)

Houseplants can be difficult to look after if you're not a green thumb, and all of them require specific conditions and frequent maintenance. One day your plant can be looking perfectly fine, the next its leaves are limp and turning red, with no explanation at all as to why. 

What about in the case of the Christmas cactus, then? 'Limp leaves are typically an indication of a watering issue,' says indoor gardening specialist from Urban Leafy, George Brown. When it comes to how often you should water a Christmas cactus they need semi-frequent watering every one to two weeks as well as good drainage. 'By adjusting these care elements, your Christmas cactus should return to its healthy, vibrant state in no time,' says George.

Closely linked to watering schedules, humidity can often be the cause for limp leaves, too. 'If your plant is limp it could be due to a lack of humidity,' says Lindsey Hyland Founder of Urban Organic Yield. While cacti are known to be drought-tolerant plants, the Christmas cactus has adapted to cooler temperatures and moister conditions. 

How do you fix limp leaves on a christmas cactus? 

If you notice your plant taking a turn for the worst, don't panic. It can usually be easily fixed in a few simple steps and in most cases, correcting your general maintenance routine will have a huge effect on the look and health of your plant. 

'Adjust your watering routine to maintain consistent soil moisture,' advises gardening expert Zahid Adnan from The Plant Bible. 'Water the plant when the top inch of the soil is dry, allowing excess water to drain away.' 

Similarly, if you are wondering how you make your Christmas cactus bloom, you ought to know that the environment's humidity is incredibly important. 'Christmas cacti thrive in higher humidity levels,' Zahid says. 'To try and rectify this, place a shallow tray of water near the plant or mist the leaves can create a more humid environment.' 

Once you have ensured the water, drainage, and humidity conditions are right, you are on the path to success. The health of your plant should quickly turn around and you'll be able to enjoy its bright foliage throughout the festive season and beyond. 

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Amy McArdle
News writer

Amy recently completed an MA in Magazine Journalism at City, University of London, with experience writing for Women’s lifestyle publications across arts, culture, and beauty. She has a particular love for the minimalist aesthetic mixed with mid-century furniture, especially combining unique vintage finds with more modern pieces. Her previous work in luxury jewellery has given her a keen eye for beautiful things and clever design, that plays into her love of interiors. As a result, Amy will often be heard justifying homeware purchases as 'an investment', wise words to live by.