Christmas Cacti, or Schlumbergera, are natural plants to bring into your house or garden. However, during their long lifetime, it is not unlikely to see them losing their leaves. While you can save your plant by intervening straight away, you need to identify the cause behind this condition.
So, why is a Christmas Cactus drooping or dropping leaves? There are many possible reasons behind it, and you can identify the cause looking at the other symptoms that the plant is displaying. The most common causes of leaves dropping are:
- Stem or root rot
- Improper watering
- Low humidity levels
- Improper lighting
- Low temperatures
Identifying the symptoms of each of these conditions might not always be the most straightforward of tasks. Read on to find out what is affecting your plant and how to intervene to save it.
Root or Stem Rot
Stem and root rot are among the most severe diseases that could cause the leaves of your Christmas Cactus to fall.
Root rot is a life-threatening disease that starts within the root system of the plant. Indeed, a single episode of overwatering – as well as improper prolonged overwatering – can cause the soil to remain soggy. Aside from preventing the roots from absorbing the necessary nutrients, the stagnating water will start to rot the root. As these become weaker, they are also more exposed to the attack of fungi and bacteria.
Root rot is highly dangerous because when the leaves start to show the first signs of decay, it means that the condition has already spread through the roots system, compromising the plant’s health. A stem rot has a similar origin, and it is just as deadly, but you can see the first lesions spreading from the lower end of the stem instead.
Checking the roots of your plant regularly – especially after an episode of overwatering – allows you to intervene in time to save your plant. If you notice moldy, weak, and mushy roots, remove the plant from the pot.
Then, with care, wash the affected roots under running water to eliminate any mold and dead root. Replant the plant in a new container with fresh soil. Depending on the severity of the situation, you should also consider removing the fallen leaves and trimming your plant. In this way, the Cactus can focus its energy on fighting the infection.
If you cannot save the plant, isolate it to ensure that the pathogen does not transfer onto nearby plants, then dispose of it.
Understanding the watering needs of your Christmas Cactus is essential to avoid overwatering and causing root rot. Even if there are no signs of rotting, the leaves of the plants might still be falling off because the roots are drowning and cannot get enough nutrients from the soil.
Generally, Christmas Cacti need more water than other plants belonging to the Cactus family. Indeed, while they are all highly tolerant to drought, Christmas Cacti need regular watering, especially during the summer months.
The best solution is to remove the leaves that are already dead from the plant and allow the soil to dry entirely before watering it again. However, it is also essential to implement a more consistent watering routine, changing it depending on the season.
Indeed, while your Christmas cactus might need more water over summer, you should allow for extra time between waterings in winter, when temperatures are lower. This strategy enables the soil to dry entirely between waterings, reducing the chances of root and stem rot.
Unlike other house plants that are highly tolerant to several humidity levels, Christmas Cacti have exact needs regarding the level of moisture in the air. If the air in your apartment or house is too dry, the plant is likely to suffer from it.
Since the moisture will transpirate from the leaves’ pores too quickly, the lack of humidity will leave the leaves too dry. You can notice them turning brown, drooping, and, eventually, fall off the stems. Generally, Christmas Cacti need an average level of humidity between 50% and 60%.
If you are cultivating Christmas Cacti indoors, the chances are that it might be complicated to regulate the level of humidity in your house. If this is the case, there are strategies you could implement to ensure the leaves stay moist even during the hottest hours of the day.
Copyright article owner is ReadyToDiy.com for this article. This post was first published on May 13, 2020.
Firstly, you could opt to use a spray bottle to mist the leaves several times per day. However, if due to pre-existing responsibilities and work schedules, you can attend to your plant so often, you should make sure it benefits from a humidity tray. It is easy to build one of these tools, by adding water and pebbles onto a tray and positioning underneath the pot.
Lastly, if you own other houseplants, you could opt to group them and keep them in the same area of the house. This trick helps you keep the level of humidity in check for all of them as they will balance the moisture in the air naturally.
Christmas Cactus can grow in the wild in the mountains of Sout-eastern Brazil. The desert-like ecosystem allows them to benefit from high humidity levels, as well as warm temperatures all year round. When grown indoors, Christmas Cacti can withstand a range of temperatures and environments, yet they do not tolerate cold climates well.
Indeed, while lower temperatures above 50℉ (10℃ ) are ideal when the plant is setting buds, during the rest of its development stages, it should be kept at steady temperatures between 70℉ and 80℉ (21℃ and 27℃). Do not expose your plants to temperatures below 50℉ (10℃) or above 90℉ (32℃).
Sudden drops or rises in temperatures can cause your plant to suffer from stress. This kind of trauma can be worsened by other environmental factors such as improper watering and light exposure. When a plant is under pressure, its roots are not able to absorb the necessary nutrients from the soil to keep the leaves alive, which will start to drop.
To prevent this from happening, keep the plant away from drafts and protect it against sudden changes in temperatures. If it is already under shock, bring it back to a spot in which it was thriving and avoid adding stress by not pruning it or trimming it for a while. You can do so when your plant is back in full health.
Undoubtedly, Christmas Cacti love bright, indirect sunlight, and they should benefit from it for several hours every day. Sunlight promotes their growth and development, as well as the wellbeing of the leaves.
However, many owners fail to move them to a more comfortable spot as the season is changing. Indeed, in summer, intense, direct light can sunscald the leaves, causing them to appear burned and eventually fall.
Move your plant into a more suitable spot of the house. Ideally, this should be away from a windowsill during the warmest days of summer. Alternatively, you could shield it from the direct light and reduce the period of exposure to it. Ultimately, you should also adjust the watering amount and frequency during the warm season.
Several factors could cause your Christmas cactus to drop leaves. While this plant is highly tolerant to many environmental conditions, there are some needs it really can’t do without.
ReadyToDIY is the owner of this article. This post was published on May 13, 2020.
These include proper lighting, temperature, water, and humidity. If your Christmas cactus is not receiving enough – or too much – of these, it could start losing leaves in a matter of weeks. In any case, before attempting to save your plant, inspect the roots in search for signs of root rot. This condition is rare but also the most threatening for the life of your plant.