Why Isn’t My Christmas Cactus Flowering?

Christmas cactus plants are adored for their brightly colored flowers that appear throughout the winter months. Did the winter months pass without flowers blooming on your Christmas cactus? In this article, gardening expert Jill Drago discusses four reasons your Christmas cactus may not bloom.

View of a Christmas cactus isn't flowering in a large pot. Christmas cactus is characterized by flattened, segmented stems of green color. These segmented stems are glossy with scalloped edges.


Christmas cacti are beautiful flowering houseplants. These colorful blossoms typically appear around Christmas, usually by the end of December. So what does it mean if yours doesn’t bloom?

One of the main reasons Christmas cacti are so beloved is because they fill our homes with flowers when not much else is blooming. The flowers are typically white or magenta and will bloom for a few days at a time. 

If you’re worried your plant won’t flower this season or are already dealing with a non-blooming plant, let’s look at the most common reasons it appears to be taking a break.

The Short Answer

It can be such a letdown when you have waited all year for your Christmas cactus to bloom, and the colorful flowers never appear. The good news is that many of the reasons your plant isn’t flowering have to do with its growing conditions. Typically, these conditions can be altered to get your plant back to blooming next year!

The Long Answer

These are low-maintenance plants, but incorrect growing conditions can lead to issues. Light, water, and a few other conditions may cause your plant to skip a blooming period.

Let’s take a deeper look at why your plant may not be flowering and what you can do about it! 

What holiday cactus do you have?

Close-up of a blooming Schlumbergera on a windowsill in a large decorative black ceramic pot. The plant produces tubular flowers emerge from the tips of these segments, showing pink color.
A lack of December blooms may indicate a different holiday cactus type.

If your plant is not blooming, there is a chance that you have a different type of holiday cactus. Yep, you read that correctly. There is more than one type of holiday cactus, and they all bloom at different times. 

Let’s take a look at the different types of holiday cactus:

  • Christmas Cactus (Schlumbergera russelliana) will bloom toward the end of December with either white or magenta flowers. The leaves are rounded and flattened with notched edges. 
  • Thanksgiving Cactus (Schlumbergera truncata) blooms in a broader range of colors at the end of November. Thanksgiving cactus flowers can be orange, pink, purple, red, or white. Their leaves are flattened but have claw-like projections on the ends of their leaves. 
  • Easter Cactus (Rhipsalidopsis gaetneri) will bloom anytime from March through May in similar shades to Thanksgiving cacti: peach, pink, purple, red, and white. These flowers are more star-shaped, with pointier petals than the other holiday cacti. The leaves of the Easter cactus have smooth edges with fewer ridges than the other holiday cacti. 


Close-up of a blooming holiday cactus in a large blue pot indoors. The plant has segmented, flat, and cascading stems of gray-green color. These stems have leaf-like segments that are grey-green in color with scalloped edges. The flower is large, double, tubular, star-shaped, with pointed petals.
Repot sparingly for optimal blooming, preferably in spring after flowering.

Don’t repot too frequently. When repotting is needed, timing is crucial. This plant prefers growing in tight spaces, which promotes flowering. 

Unnecessary transplanting can hinder blooming and foliar growth. When necessary, repotting should be done after blooming has ended and the flowers have dropped. Spring is a good and safe season to repot because your plant will shift into a dormant period.  


Before repotting, look for signs that it’s needed: 

  • Roots are making their way out of its pots drainage holes.
  • Brown, mushy roots, indicating root rot. You’ll need to repot with new soil. This is a life-saving move. 
  • Signs of mold or pests in the soil. 
  • Stunted foliar growth. 


Watering from a blue watering can on a light windowsill among other potted plants. The plant produces long, segmented, cascading stems that have a drooping appearance. The stems consist of flattened, succulent leaves with scalloped edges.
Avoid overwatering, treating it as a succulent with a preference for drought-like conditions.

Overwatering is a common mistake made by houseplant parents. While called a cactus, this holiday plant is a succulent, and it is important to treat it as such. It will take water up through its roots and humidity in the air through its leaves. 

Christmas cacti respond well to drought-like conditions. These plants thrive in these conditions when it comes to forming buds and flowering. 

Depending on how much sunlight your plant gets, you must water every one to two weeks. Allow the soil to dry out about halfway before watering again. 


Give watering a break. Allow the soil to dry out a bit before watering again. If you have been religiously watering, this break can sometimes trigger blooming.

Do not let the soil completely dry out. This can put the plant into a bit of shock. Check the soil regularly, and when it appears to be less water-logged, you can water it again in a smaller dose. 

Overwatering can lead to root rot. To check root health, gently remove the plant from its pot and look for dark or mushy roots. If you find them, trim them back to healthy growth and repot your plant in fresh soil. 

Too Warm

Close-up of a holiday cactus with tiny flower buds in a small brown pot indoors. It is a succulent plant with succulent, fleshy, segmented stems that droop downward. These stems have leaf-like segments of green color, with distinctive scalloped edges. There are tiny flower buds at the tips of the stems.
To induce blooming, expose your plant to periodic cooler temperatures or drafts.

While Christmas cacti love warmth, they need to experience a temperature drop to produce flowers. Without exposure to cooler weather, such as a cold draft from a window, your plants will not bloom.

In nature, Christmas cacti become exposed to shorter days and cooler temperatures, which trigger their dormant period. This period can last up to a month but will result in a lush blooming period. 

To prevent this from happening, consider moving your plant to a new location in your home. This is a great opportunity to take advantage of that draft window or entryway where the door will open more frequently, letting in chilly air. These plants do not need to be cold. They just need exposure to lower temperatures. 


Sadly, this issue cannot be resolved in the same growing season. But the good news is there is always next year! Reconsider your plant’s location. Is it near a heater or in the kitchen? These areas can be a bit warmer. Seek out drafty or naturally cooler areas of your home to grow this succulent. 

Too Much Light 

Close-up of a blooming cactus on a windowsill with dappled sunlight. The plant produces long, flattened, segmented stems with distinctive scalloped edges. These stems are gray-green in color. The plant displays vibrant, pendulous flowers of bright pink color.
Provide Christmas cacti with 12 hours of darkness every day in a dim, unused room.

Like receiving too much warmth, Christmas cacti can also receive too much light. Beginning in the fall, these succulents need about 12 hours of darkness per day

In addition to needing the darkness, Christmas cacti do not respond well to artificial light such as overhead lights and lamps. This can make it especially tricky to find darkness for your plant. To achieve this, I suggest finding the least used room in your home and allowing your cactus to get comfortable in there for the next few weeks.


Move your plant into the dark starting in October to prepare for the upcoming blooming period. Sadly, if it is Christmastime and there are still no blooms, putting it in the dark now won’t produce flowers this year. Call this season a loss, and be ready to move your pots in the fall. 

Final Thoughts

Be patient with your plants, and pay attention to your care for them. If your plant appears otherwise healthy, chances are it will bloom eventually. The above tips are a guideline to help you assess your plant’s health and inform you of a few things you could do differently. 

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