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How to Repot a Christmas Cactus and Thanksgiving Cactus

Lyn is a horticulturist and YouTuber with over 35 years of experience growing succulents and cacti.

When repotting a Christmas or Thanksgiving cactus, select the next size pot up, but no bigger.

When repotting a Christmas or Thanksgiving cactus, select the next size pot up, but no bigger.

Step 1: Choose the Right Pot

You'll need the next size pot up, not one massively larger than the pot your cactus is currently in. If you go for too big of a pot, your Christmas cactus will put its energy into producing more roots and foliage rather than flowers.

My preferred ratios for epiphytic cactus potting mix.

My preferred ratios for epiphytic cactus potting mix.

Step 2: Prepare Your Cactus Soil

Make sure that you use an epiphytic cactus soil. Because Christmas and Thanksgiving cactus are rainforest cacti, they don't need a typical cactus soil like you would with the desert types. It still needs to be well-draining, but you can choose either commercial orchid soil (orchid soil works well for potting up Christmas cactus), or you can make your own.

I make my own with a mix of 40% perlite, 30% peat and 30% loam. If you make your own mix, make sure you give it all a good mix-up before filling your pot.

Put a couple of inches of soil at the bottom of your new pot.

Gently loosen up the root ball by going around the edge of the pot with the handle of a spoon.

Gently loosen up the root ball by going around the edge of the pot with the handle of a spoon.

Step 3: Loosen the Root Ball

At this point, it's important that you loosen up the root ball. I like to use the handle end of a spoon (though any piece of cutlery will do) and go right around the edges to loosen up that root ball from the pot. Be careful not to damage the roots here.

Step 4: Remove the Cactus

Once you've loosened up the root ball, then you want to hold the cactus between your fingers at the base (don't pull it up by the tops because it's going to come apart) and gently then turn it on its side. Then tip the whole thing upside down, and gently pull out the cactus and root ball.

Before transplanting your cactus, be sure to check the root ball for any pests.

Before transplanting your cactus, be sure to check the root ball for any pests.

Step 5: Check for Pests

This is always a good opportunity to check over the root system and make sure there are no signs of hidden pests and things like that. Gently loosen up the roots and check there are no insects.

Step 6: Transplant Into the New Pot

Gently holding the base of the cactus, lift it up and place it into the new pot. Then you want to put the new soil all around the sides. Make sure that it's all pushed down the sides so there are no air pockets. Make sure that the soil goes all around the sides.

Step 7: Wait a Week to Water

I would advise not watering for about a week just to allow the roots to settle into the new soil and pot. You can spray the foliage with a bit of water if you want to keep the hydration levels up.

After a week, go ahead and water as normal. And that's it!

Schlumbergera tendenza 'Orange Brazil' in bloom!

Schlumbergera tendenza 'Orange Brazil' in bloom!

Schlumbergera tendenza 'Orange Brazil'

The particular type of Christmas cactus that I use in this demo is a Schlumbergera tendenza 'Orange Brazil'. It has lovely red leaves and produces gorgeous orange flowers in the wintertime.

© 2021 Lyn Kimberley

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