Christmas Cactus: 13 Top Growing Questions Answered (Size, Growth Rate/Cycle & More)

If you’re wondering about growing a Christmas cactus, this article is for you. We’ll cover all the top questions including how they grow, how big they get, the best-growing methods, and more.

1.) Do Christmas Cactus Grow Wild?

Yes, Christmas cactus does grow in the wild. It is native to Brazil’s rain forests, where you can find holiday cacti (also known as Schlumbergera spp.). The rain forests are perfect for Christmas cactus because it is a plant that consumes nutrients and water from the air rather than the soil like most plants. Called an epiphyte¹ or an air plant.

Often found in rock crevices or leaf debris on a tree. Most people think they are “parasite” plants since they are usually found growing on other plants, but they do not harm their host.

2.) What’s Christmas Cactus Ideal Growing Temperature?

The ideal temperature for Christmas cactus is 70℉ during the day and 60 to 65℉ during the evening. Pay close attention to sunlight- as the daytime sun can warm a room up very quickly if it gets lots of direct sun exposure.

3.) Where Do Christmas Cactus Grow Best?

An east-facing room and window often are best for indirect light. Suppose you think of a rainforest in Brazil where it grows native. There is a lot of bright indirect light and humid air. So, you’ll want to mimic that the best you can. Too much direct sun can cause harm.

4.) Are Christmas Cactus Easy to Grow?

Many people think Christmas cactus is hard to grow, but if you get the basics right, the correct amount of sun, soil, water, and temperature, then the Christmas cactus is a breeze to grow. That is why it is so popular (along with the beautiful blooms).

5.)What is the Christmas Cactus Growth Cycle?

Here is a general growth cycle of Christmas cactus²:

  • December through April – Propagation
  • March through May – Potting
  • Early June – Pinch
  • August 15th – Stop fertilization; continue to water normally
  • Middle of September – Increase darkness and lower temperature
  • Middle of November to December – Flowering stage

6.) What Is the Best Way to Grow a Christmas Cactus?

Follow these step for the best ways to grow Christmas cactus:

  1. Choose a location with bright but indirect sunlight.
  2. Use the proper potting mix (Cactus, Palm, and Citrus potting mix is best)
  3. Only water the plant when the top couple of inches is dry.
  4. Monitor humidity and increase if needed.
  5. Fertilize after it blooms all the way to fall.
  6. If you want to increase blooming provide the plant with six weeks of darkness along with lower temperatures.
  7. For better shape, after blooming, it is recommended to prune. Also, use the sections you pruned to propagate more free plants!

6.) How Big Does a Christmas Cactus Get?

Christmas cactus can grow up to 12 inches tall (30 cm) and 24 inches wide (61 cm). When growing in the right conditions, mature plants can reach a width of more than 3 feet (almost 1 meter) after a decade.

7.) What’s the Christmas Cactus Growth Pattern?

The Christmas cactus will grow vertically to 6-12″ and then spread 12-24″ wide. So essentially, it grows up, then spreads out and down.

If you want to adjust how your plant is growing check out the following video:

8.) Why Is My Christmas Cactus Growing Straight Up?

You might need to prune your Christmas cactus if it is growing straight up. Watch the video above for some great tips.

9.) How Fast Does a Christmas Cactus Grow?

Christmas cactus has a medium growth rate and will send out several stem segments yearly. If provided with enough bright indirect light and plenty of water and nutrients, it can grow almost 2 feet (60 cm) in size in about five years. When grown from seed, the Christmas cactus will take 2 – 3 years to reach maturity.  

10.) How Much Does a Christmas Cactus Grow in a Year?

The growth rate depends on the plant’s conditions—the amount of sunlight, temperature, nutrients, and so on. But, for the most part, Christmas cactus can grow 6-12″ yearly.

11.) Why Is My Christmas Cactus Growing Slow?

The main reason a Christmas cactus grow slowly is due to poor root growth. You can stimulate root growth by transferring it into a smaller pot or adding more nutrients to the soil. Make sure the potting soil has a high amount of organic matter and drains freely.

12.) Why Did My Christmas Cactus Stop Growing?

While it may seem like your Christmas cactus stopped growing, it is still growing. These plants never really stop growing while they are alive. It may just be slow-growing (see question above), or need to be transferred to a larger pot.

13.) How Do Christmas Cactus Grow New Leaves?

Christmas cactus does not grow leaves. What people call leaves are segments called cladodes. These are jointed stems that have flowering ends. You can pull off one to three phylloclades at the leaf joints and use them for cuttings.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, you have a better understanding of how a Christmas cactus grows. By understanding where the plant grows natively and its different parts, you are setting yourself up for better plant growth and survival.

For more questions and answers about Christmas cactus plant care, check out our main article here.


1.) Epiphyte – PDF

2.) Growing cycles – PDF

Website | + posts

Davin is a jack-of-all-trades but has professional training and experience in various home and garden subjects. He leans on other experts when needed and edits and fact-checks all articles.