Why Isn’t My Christmas Cactus Blooming?

The reason why Christmas cactus are not blooming is due to the stress of drought or too much sunlight, since it’s an annual plant that is short in duration. Christmas cactus have been adapted to rainforests that have heavy rainfall and high humidity. It doesn’t bloom when it is dry or it is too long of sunlight during flower formation.

There are a variety of other causes that could stop Christmas Cactus ( Schlumbergera) blooming that I have listed in this article:

Read on to find out the reasons why your Christmas cactus is not blooming, as well as the most effective practices and methods to fix it to allow it to display blooms…

1. Under Watering and Low Humidity

Christmas Cactus is an plant that is indigenous in the rainforests that are tropical Brazil where it thrives in humid and hot conditions with a high amount of rainfall and is shaded by trees’ canopy.

This is quite different from the majority of cacti species that thrive in hot deserts that have very little humidity, and frequent rainfall and have a variety of adaptations to deal with drought.

When we hear the term “cactus” when talking about Christmas Cactus, the association with desert-dwelling species leads people to believe that Christmas Cactus doesn’t require lots of watering, when in fact the contrary is the case.

Stress from drought prevents Christmas Cactus from flowering. If the cactus has been submerged and the soil is drying out too fast and the humidity is too low. The Christmas cactus doesn’t bloom because of drought stress.

This is a mistake I made myself and my cactus didn’t bloom correctly until I recreated some conditions that were typical of the native cactus habitat by increasing the humidity and more frequent watering.

to encourage the Christmas cactus to flower…

  • Make sure to water your Christmas cactus frequently. It is recommended to water once a week. will provide your cactus with an ideal balance of moisture to supply the required water and not cause root rot, so that your cactus will flower without excessive stress from the moisture.
  • Mist the cactus frequently, especially if you reside in an area that is dry. The houses are generally less humid compared to the outdoors, and considerably lower than rainforests, therefore regular misting is vital in creating a moist microclimate to reduce the loss of water from the leaves and to recreate the ideal conditions for plants. Mist the leaves at least every week, if you live in temperate climates, and two or three times per every week for dry weather to get the optimal outcomes.
  • The cactus should be watered with an ample soak. If you water too little, it results in the water not to penetrate the soil in a proper manner and the water does not reach the roots , causing stress from drought that prevents the plant from flowering.

christmas cactus pink flowers

Another issue that could arise with regards to submerging is if the plant is in pot soil that has peat in it because peat repels water from the surface after drying out.

This could prevent water from infiltrating the soil in a proper manner and the roots aren’t capable of absorbing the water they need.

If the soil in the pot is resistant to water, then soak it in a bowl that is filled with water and let it sit for 10 mins in order to ensure that the water is able to absorb into the root system. Alternatively, plant the cactus again in more porous soil, enriched with horticultural sand , or grit.

Regularly watering and high levels of humidity in the local area by spraying mist onto the leaves in order to mimic the natural conditions The Christmas cactus has the best chance of flowering at home.

(Read the article below to find out the frequency and much you should water your Christmas Cactus in accordance with the climate and the conditions).

2. Christmas Cactus requires at least 12 hours of darkness to flower.

Christmas cactus is rather unusual in that it is a ‘short day plant’ which means requires at least 12 hours or more of unbroken darkness to form flower buds.

If you live in a place where twelve hours or more of darkness is disrupted by the switch of lights during the late at night, this could hinder the growth of the flowers of the cacti and stop the flowering process from happening.

This is because the Christmas cactus is adapting to detect seasonal changes by detecting changes during daylight hours to trigger the development flowers.

The majority of plants sense the change in temperature during the season that triggers the growth of flower buds. However, Christmas Cactus relies on both the length of the day and changes in temperature in its natural habitat of the rainforest to trigger the growth of flower buds. They also signal the appropriate time to flower.

To encourage blooms the time of Christmas, make sure that your cactus is placed in a space that is dark, as switching on a bright light for a short time can hinder the growth of blooms.

Another option is to put an exuding light cloth on top of your Christmas cactus in order to make sure it is covered with an extended period of darkness to encourage blooming.

(Read my article to learn moreinformation, if you notice that you are seeing buds forming and then dropping away, why is my Christmas cactus buds falling?)

3. Too hot or cold Could Delay Christmas Cactus from flowering.

The ideal temperature for the growth of Christmas cactus is a temperatures that is about 68degF (20degC) but it is able to tolerate a variety of temperatures because of its ability to adapt to changing conditions of its rainforest mountain surroundings.

In the Northern part of the hemisphere, Christmas Cactus begins to grow its flower buds in September.

The buds develop over the course of 6 weeks, with an evening temperature that is slightly lower than around 60 deg F (15degC) but once the flowers are in bloom, they will last longer with a steady temperature of around 68degF (20degC).

This pattern of temperatures is the same pattern for buds to form in the Christmas cactus’s natural habitat.

While these temperatures aren’t the ideal for promoting flowers I’ve personally witnessed an amazing display of flowers every year, when my flower is set on the kitchen window sill that receives indirect sunlight as well as slightly cooler temperatures and more humidity than other rooms in the house but not necessarily in the exact pattern of temperature changes.

If your cactus is not blooming, maintaining it cool and cool throughout the bud formation will provide it with the greatest chances of blooming.

4. Prefers Being Pot Bound for Flowering

Christmas cactus has an affinity for smaller pots, with their roots being a bit restricted and pot tied.

Cactus Christmas is not a must flower if they’re not in a state of stress.

When the Christmas Cactus has been placed in a large pot the energy of the plant will be directed towards growing the root system, rather than to flowering.

If the Cactus is in a pot, it prefers to produce flower buds over the development and growth of the plant since flowers are the plant’s way to reproduce and is a method to survive in harsh environments.

When the plants are completely satisfied with its surroundings, then it is less likely to produce flowers since their are not a major threat to its existence.

Place your Christmas cactus in the pot that is just bigger than its rootball (rather than a pot that has a large capacity) to encourage flowering.

5. Overwatering Prevents Blooming

Christmas cactus grows and blooms best when there is a balanced amount of moisture.

Christmas Cactus is an epiphytic plant (grows on trees) that draws moisture from air, or moist areas of the plant or tree where it is growing.

So Christmas cactus has an affinity for porous, aerated soils that hold some moisture, but allows it to drain rapidly.

If you water your Christmas Cactus excessively and plant it into relatively compact soil, this could block airflow around the roots, which could hinder efficient root respiration and lead to root rot, which causes the cactus to lose its shape or turn yellow.

(There could be a variety of reasons for why Christmas cactus dies apart from overwatering, read the article on the reason my Christmas cactus dying for solutions).

If the cactus is placed in a soil that is too damp, it will not bloom.

Other reasons for too much water around the roots include:

  • Potting soil that hasn’t been altered with perlite or sand. It is recommended to plant the cactus in soil with three parts potting soil with 1 part of grit to ensure a porous soil structure.
  • Use of trays, saucers and decorative outer pots. Clean any saucers, trays or pots frequently which are used to stop excessive water from spilling into your home. This stops water from that pools around roots, that causes the soil to remain damp, which causes root decay.

Water Christmas Cactus should be watered once a week, with a good soak , then mist the leaves but let that the top layer of dirt to become remain dry to the point of allowing the exchange of gas to aid in the respiration of the roots.

This will help achieve the ideal balance of moisture for your cactus, so it will bloom rather than suffering from moisture stress or root decay.

6. Too Much Sun Impacts Flowering

While most cacti like full sunshine, Christmas cactus is a plant that is adapted to thrive in indirect, bright light under a canopy of trees.

If the cactus is situated in a sun-lit area, the leaves change to either red or purple in an attempt to avoid sunburn.

Full sun is not in line with its conditions in which it has to be adapted. The stress of too much sun can hinder the flowering process and may cause drought because it dries off the plant too fast and a lower humidity.

The cactus should be placed in a spot that receives direct light that is bright (rather than shade) to provide the plant with enough energy to bloom but not to be exposed to sunburn or stress from drought.

7. Too Much Fertilizer In Fall Prevents Flowering

Christmas cactus do not have to be heavy feeders and don’t need fertilizer to flower.

If you’ve been using fertilizer in the time of bud development beginning in September, it is likely to stop flowering , and the plant may become droopy.

However, a low strength ordinary fertilizer for plants in the home used once a month in the Spring and Summer will help to prevent any deficiency in nutrients which can hinder flowering.

Always apply half strength. Only apply every month. Avoid fertilizing until the end of Summer to ensure the best buds and blooms.

Key Takeaways

  • Christmas cactus will not bloom when it is suffering from stress from drought due to the flooding and low humidity, and due to too long hours of sunlight during the flowering bud development. Christmas cactus needs frequent irrigation and frequent misting, and at minimum twelve hours of dark over six weeks prior to flowering.
  • The Christmas cactus likes cooler temperatures around 60degF (15degC) in September, while the buds of flowers are beginning to form to mimic the natural conditions in its natural habitat. The Christmas cactus likes temperatures of 68degF (20degC) to ensure optimal growth conditions.
  • The excessive watering of cactus can lead to strain and root decay that hinders the flowering.
  • A lot of sun can cause burns to the plant, drying it out rapidly, causing stress from drought, which may hinder flowering.


Went from a bad gardener to a half-decent one over 10+ years. Super happy to share my tips and tricks with you :)