Christmas Cactus is a tropical cactus that brightens the environment with gorgeous red and pink flowers around the winter holidays. Unfortunately, although Christmas Cactus is easy to get along with and requires minimal care, it is susceptible to root rot. Usually, this dreaded fungal disease is not caused by inattention but by improper watering.
Signs of Root Rot
A Christmas Cactus with root rot displays wilted limp sagging growth, but an inspection of the roots will tell the tale.
Remove the plant gently from its pot. The roots will display blackened tips if the cactus is affected by rot. Rotten Christmas Cactus roots will be slimy with black or brown decay, depending on the disease's severity.
If you determine that your Christmas Cactus is rotting, it is critical to act fast. Rot is a deadly disease, and once it progresses, the only option is to discard the plant and start fresh. If part of the plant is healthy, you can use a stem-segments to propagate a new plant.
If you catch the disease early, you may be able to save it. Remove the Christmas Cactus from the container immediately. Trim away affected roots and rinse the remaining roots gently to remove the fungus. Place the plant on a paper towel and put it in a warm, well-ventilated location so the roots can dry overnight.
Place the Christmas Cactus in a dry pot with fresh, lightweight potting soil the next day. Be sure the pot has a drainage hole so the soil can drain freely. Wait a couple of days before watering the newly potted Christmas Cactus.
When you resume watering, be sure you understand the most effective way to water your Christmas Cactus. Always water thoroughly until the water drips through the drainage hole, then let the plant drain before returning the pot to its drainage saucer. Never let the plant stand in water.
Be careful not to kill the plant with kindness. Slightly underwatered conditions are healthiest. Do not water until the top 0.5 inches (1.2 cm) of soil feels dry. Water sparingly during the winter months, but do not allow the potting mix to become bone dry. Place the plant in bright sunlight during fall and winter and light shade during spring and summer.
- Succulentopedia: Browse succulents by Scientific Name, Common Name, Genus, Family, USDA Hardiness Zone, Origin, or cacti by Genus