When to fertilize Christmas cactus

Know when to fertilize Christmas cactus and fill your home with winter color

Christmas cactus
(Image credit: Alamy)

Fancy an indoor show of spectacular winter color? Then learn when to fertilize Christmas cactus plants for a long-lasting display of brilliant blooms. 

If you are growing Christmas cactus, it's worth knowing that while it's tempting to fertilize during fall and winter, this job actually needs to be done monthly during the growing season, between April and September. 

Experts explain in detail below, so that you can get the best show from one of the most loved Christmas plants.

When to fertilize Christmas cactus

Flowering from late November to the end of January, Christmas cacti – or Schlumbergera – dazzle with their star-like blooms in vivid shades of orange, pink, red, yellow, and white, making them one of the best winter house plants.  

Fertilize at the right time, and you can make a Christmas cactus bloom for longer and more prolifically, from late November through end of January.

Kate Turner, garden expert at MiracleGro, says ‘Keep plants moist during their main growing period, from April to September, and feed regularly with a liquid feed that is high in potash. Try to maintain a temperature of 65-70°F (18-21°C).’

Jim and Mary Competti of Old World Garden Farms agree: ‘Christmas cactus should only be fertilized during the late spring and summer months. This allows for a bit of new growth and for the plant to store energy for the winter blooming season. Use a high quality all-purpose indoor plant fertilizer, and not one intended for succulents or true cacti plants.’

Repotting a Christmas cactus can happen in spring, once flowering season is over, and this is when you can start to fertilize the plant, too. Propagating a Christmas cactus can be done at the same time.

Originating from the mountains of southeast Brazil, these cacti, with their distinctive and sturdy leaf-like stems, actually prefer semi shady and humid environments – this will encourage strong and healthy growth, too. 

Once September comes around, you can stop fertilizing Christmas cactus, and give them a period of reduced natural light, no water and cooler temperatures to prompt them to flower again for Christmas. 

After this raise the temperature to around 65-69℉ (18-20℃) and start watering regularly. 

How often should I fertilize a Christmas cactus?

You should fertilize a Christmas cactus once a month during the growing season, from spring (after flowering) through to September.

Can you use Miracle-Gro on Christmas cactus?

You can use Miracle-Gro Cactus, Palm & Citrus Potting Mix to grow Christmas cactus. Then fertilize after blooming until September when the top two inches of the soil are dried out. 

What kind of fertilizer do you give a Christmas cactus?

The best kind of fertilizer to give a Christmas cactus is a liquid feed that is high in potash. Miracle-Gro's Indoor Plant Food is recommended.

Jill Morgan
Contributing Editor

Jill Morgan has spent the last 20 years writing for Interior and Gardening magazines both in print and online. Titles she has been lucky enough to work on include House Beautiful, The English

Home, Ideal Home, Modern Gardens and Gardeningetc.com. Although much of her career has involved commissioning and writing about reader homes and home improvement projects, her

everlasting passion is for gardens and outdoor living, which is what she writes about for Homes & Gardens.