Christmas

How to repot a Christmas cactus – for maximum longevity

Find out exactly when and how to repot your Christmas cactus to boost its life and flowering potential

Christmas cactus
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Ensuring you know how to repot a Christmas cactus will mean you'll be able to enjoy the plant for years to come.

After all, the Christmas cactus is a pretty flowering succulent that blooms from November to January (hence its name), making it a perfect addition to your Christmas decor ideas. 

But once you've pinned down how to grow a Christmas cactus, and how to make a Christmas cactus bloom again, you'll need to know how to repot a Christmas cactus to ensure you get the most from your plant purchase. We tell you how in our expert guide.

When to repot a Christmas cactus

Christmas cactus

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The Christmas cactus should be repotted after its blooming ends, but you don't need to rush the process, according to Keira Kay, Bloom & Wild (opens in new tab) plant expert.

She says: 'Christmas cactus should be repotted soon after the plant has stopped blooming, and the flowers have wilted, typically in late winter or early spring. 

'However this plant is happy to become quite compact – so you needn’t rush to re-pot a Christmas cactus, if you don't see roots creeping out the pot or drainage holes, you can hold off repotting.'

How to repot a Christmas cactus: a step-by-step guide

See Keira Kay's top tips on how to repot a Christmas cactus below:

1. Use a potting mix that is light-weight and well-draining

Either use a repotting blend for succulents or make your own using four parts compost, one part bark, one part horticultural sand, one part fine grit, and one part pumice.

2. Choose a container slightly larger than the current nursery/cover pot

Ensure the pot has a drainage hole to avoid root rot. 

3. Gently remove the Christmas cactus from its current pot

With your hand at the base of the Christmas cactus, under the foliage, gently remove the plant and its entire root ball from the container. If the potting mix is compact to the roots, give it a gentle squeeze to loosen some of the old soil.

4. Make the Christmas cactus comfortable in its new pot

Add a scoop of your new potting mix to the bigger pot, and create a well in the middle. Pop the Christmas cactus into the space you have created, and backfill with more potting mix until you have about an inch space between the top of the soil and rim of the pot, ensuring all the roots are covered. Give it a pat down to remove any air pockets and fill all the gaps. 

5. Water the Christmas cactus moderately

Water the Christmas cactus moderately over the sink until water flows from the drainage hole, set aside in a cool location for a couple of days to allow it to acclimate before resuming its normal care routine.

What soil does a Christmas cactus need?

A Christmas cactus ideally needs a soil with plenty of organic matter but good drainage. We recommend a combination of four parts well-rotted compost, one part bark, one part horticultural sand, one part fine grit, and one part pumice. Do not use peat, which is not an eco-friendly choice.

How to divide a Christmas cactus?

To split or divide and repot a Christmas cactus, you need to remove it from its container, then take a sharp knife – carefully – to separate sections of the roots from the mother plant. These new sections can then be planted up into new containers, and you can either repot the original plant back into the original container – where it will now have more space, or into a new, larger pot.

Ruth Doherty

Ruth Doherty is an experienced digital writer and editor specializing in interiors, travel and lifestyle. With 20 years of writing for national sites under her belt, she’s worked for the likes of Livingetc.com, Standard, Ideal Home, Stylist and Marie Claire as well as Homes & Gardens.