Why Is Christmas Cactus Dropping Its Buds?

Christmas cactus flower buds fall due to drought stress and fluctuating temperatures, or because artificial light disrupts the darkness of 12 hours necessary for the growth of flower buds.

Christmas cactus are short day’ plants, which means they need more hours of darkness before they can create flower buds.

To understand the reason for the buds to fall from Christmas Cacti, it is crucial to understand the ideal conditions for the formation of buds.

The reason for this is that the cause of the bud dropping is typically caused by a sudden change in the conditions or a major departure from the ideal growth environment.

The Optimal Conditions for Christmas Cactus Flower bud Formation

The Christmas cactus flower buds Cactus appear the most typically in September..

The following requirements are necessary to ensure that your flower buds grow properly:

  • 12 or more hours of continuous darkness beginning in September and continuing through the night for at least six weeks. Christmas cactus are day-length plants that require longer hours of darkness than the light that is required during the bud’s development. This is due to the adaptation to recognize seasonal changes in the environment, which triggers the flowering process.
  • Bud formation is cooler than normal. The ideal temperature for bud development is 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15degC) in 12-hour or longer period of dark. The temperature changes mimic the cooler temperatures of this time of the year in the natural Brazilian habitat.
  • A bright indirect light throughout the day provides the Christmas cactus with the energy needed to form buds. A lot of shade can lead to the loss of flower buds.
  • A few times per week to ensure that you can ensure that the surfaces of your soil are completely dry to the point of contact between intervals of watering is the ideal amount of moisture for Christmas cactus in bud development. Mist the plant at least every week, and keep it away from any air flow that is significant.
  • Don’t apply any fertilizer after the end of Summer when flower buds begin beginning to form. The addition of fertilizer may stimulate the growth of foliage, but not the development of buds.
  • An environment that is consistent without the need to move plants or turning them around. Cactus that are Christmas-themed get used to their surroundings and don’t want to be moved even when buds begin to develop.

If the Christmas cactus is experiencing conditions that are not in line with this it is probable reason for the flowers not growing or falling off.

Continue reading to find out the reason your flowers are falling apart before you are able to display flowers. ….

(I am listing the reasons of bud loss in the order, which one is the most commonly).

Underwatering and Low Humidity Causes Buds to Drop off

Christmas cactus is native to forests of the mountains in Brazil where they thrive in humid conditions and regular rainfall.

This contrasts with other species of desert of cactus that thrive in dry and hot conditions, with very little rain.

If the humidity is low in your house, the flowers will fall off the Christmas cactus in their development.

The majority of homes have the lowest humidity, but there are certain things which can increase the absence of humidity, and also increase the chance of bud loss like:

  • Air conditioning air currents.
  • Airflow and heat fluctuate caused by forced air.
  • The rooms that are smoky.
  • Convention currents are caused by sources of heat in Winter.

Find your Cactus in a still location in your home (although moving the plant in the bud’s formation is not recommended).

To combat the causes of low humidity, and to replicate the conditions of the rainforest habitat of cactus Spray mist on the leaves twice or three times per week.

This reduces the loss of water (transpiration) through the foliage, which helps to reduce stress from drought and provides more ideal conditions to grow its flowers.


Since people believe that cacti are drought-tolerant as well as desert environments, the popular Christmas cactus can be submerged which can cause drought stress and can cause damage to the growth flowers.

The amount of watering crucial in order to prevent flower buds falling.

Typically , watering about every week to ensure that the soil remains evenly moist , but the surface remains completely dry in between periods of watering, which meets the requirements for moisture of the cactus, and avoids issues with excessive watering or submerging.

(To find out more, check out my article on the best frequency and amount to water your Christmas Cactus and to learn about the best practices for watering).

Christmas cactus flowers white pink

The removal of the Christmas Cactus can Cause Flower buds to fall off

One common error that causes bud loss is moving the cactus while the flowering process is taking place.

Christmas cactus needs an exact set of conditions to flower and therefore moving the plant could alter the surroundings to which it is accustomed that can cause the flower buds to fall.

Changes in air flow is usually the cause of the bud dropping, as is a change in the direction of the light source.

The Christmas Cactus likes to grow its buds in a steady course of illumination.

The plant can be turned around or shifting it to a different window will alter the direction of light. The flower buds usually grow toward the source of light, only to fade in reaction.

Make sure that your cactus remains in a single spot throughout the flower buds’ formation beginning about September. Try not shift it around or rotate it in any way to lessen stress and stop the buds from falling.

Interrupted darkness interferes with the formation of Flowers

Christmas cactus are relatively unusual in that they are ‘short day’ plants which means they rely on shortening day length to stimulate the formation of flowers.

There should be more than 12 hours of darkness (more than 12 hours) and then you will need light for your Christmas cactus to grow flowers correctly.

If you switch on an intense light during late at night even for a brief period, it interrupts the plant’s time of darkness. This can result in the plant not show flowers or make the buds that are developing fall off.

If you are unable to locate a space in your home that is dark and without artificial lighting for more than 12 hours, I suggest placing a cloth with a light over your Christmas cactus about 6 weeks while the buds are growing.

(If your Cactus doesn’t display any flowers , then check out my article on the reason my Christmas cactus still not flowering to find the solution).

Saturated Soil Causes Flower Buds to Drop

While Christmas Cactus are rainforest plants, They can be epiphytic meaning they are able to grow on other trees as well as away from the ground, which means that they are not tolerant of their roots growing in damp or boggy soil.

The trick is to ensure that the soil remains equally moist and well-drained.

A lot of moisture around the roots could result in root rot, the appearance of the root is drooping and the flower buds to fall.

There are a variety of reasons that lead to damp soil that can lead to buds falling off:

  • Overwatering. Typically, watering every week is sufficient during buds’ development.
  • Pots with no drainage holes in the base. Christmas cactus is not tolerant of its roots being in standing water. Make sure that the pot has drainage holes at the base, and ensure that they are not blocked by roots or soil that has been compacted.
  • Use of trays, saucers and decorative pots. The excess water must be able to flow freely out of the container. If the tray, saucer or the outer pot is a pool of water and the soil remains too wet and the flowers will fall off because of stress.

Make sure that the potted Christmas Cactus plants have adequate drainage to ensure the proper level of moisture during buds development to prevent the flower buds from falling off.

(If the Christmas cactus seems to be overly droopy or wilting, read my article on what is the reason my Christmas cactus turning wilting to find the answer).

Fluctuating Temperatures

Cactus that bloom during Christmas are quite flexible, but the fluctuation in temperatures while the buds are growing frequently causes them to fall off.

Christmas Cactus are native to the mountainous Brazilian forests and are used to colder temperatures and shorter days as the buds of the flowers develop.

It is recommended to maintain the temperature at 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15degC) in September for about six weeks. Temperatures that are significantly from this could cause the flowers to fall.

After the flowers have appeared after the flowers have emerged, a temperature of 68 degrees Fahrenheit (20degC) if thought to extend the time of flowering.

Key Takeaways

  • The main reasons behind the cactus’s Christmas flowers are the effects of drought, temperature fluctuations as well as excessive watering and artificial light at night.
  • Christmas cactus need equally moist soil, greater humidity, and longer hours of darkness than the sun shines for six weeks beginning in September until they begin to grow buds.
  • If you move the cactus during flower buds development and alter the direction of the brightest light then the buds will often attempt to move towards more light, and then fall off in a sign of stress.
  • Maintain Christmas cactus at lower temperatures during the bud’s development as well as spraying the leaves with water to increase humidity.


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