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Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera) is a wonderful festive houseplant that looks great as an indoor and outdoor plant. Just like any plant, this holiday succulent has specific soil requirements. In this article, I’ll be outlining Christmas cactus soil requirements, the best soil for Christmas cactus and how to make your own potting mix!
Unlike most cacti, the Christmas cactus, as well as Easter and Thanksgiving cactus are all tropical plants, instead of a desert plant. They are still considered a succulent, which means they hold water in their stems and can go long periods of time without watering. For this reason, they require specific soil requirements.
Christmas cactus soil requirements
The best Christmas cactus soil type has to meet certain conditions. Being native to Brazil, the Christmas cactus is an epiphyte. What this means is, in its natural environment it grows on the trunks of larger trees and gains most of its moisture from the air. The roots of a Christmas cactus will harvest into decomposing leaves and debris that has fallen from the tree.
Because of this makeshift soil and the fact that the Christmas cactus is often high up in the air, you’ll need a soil that will dry out very easily. Essentially what this means is that the number one Christmas cactus soil requirement is that it is well-draining. Without a well-draining soil, too much water will be absorbed and you will end up with problems such as Christmas cactus root rot!
What is a well draining soil? Usually, for a soil to be well draining, it needs to be a blend of organic material and inorganic material. If you are shopping for the best soil for Christmas cactus, look out for the ingredients perlite (20% – 40%) and peat moss. These will be what makes it fast-draining.
Secondly, Christmas cactus soil requirements will need a good pH level. The Christmas cactus enjoys a slightly acidic soil with a pH level between 5.5 and 7. If you are using existing succulent soil with a higher pH, then you can try putting coffee grounds on a Christmas cactus to balance the pH level out. If you are purchasing new soil, then look out for limestone as this is the ingredient added to level out the pH.
Best potting soil for Christmas cactus
If you’re looking for the best soil for Christmas cactus and are happy to order online, then below are my very favorite potting soils for Christmas cactus. I have used all of these before and have no complaints.
Each has pros and cons of their own which I’ll discuss but all in all, I find these are the best potting mix for a Christmas cactus.
Ingredients: 75% substrate, 25% perlite, low fertilizer.
This is my go to holiday cactus potting mix. In my experience, it is the best Christmas cactus soil. It is both affordable and great quality.
The organic blend is optimized for a pH of 5.5, which is slightly more acidic than regular potting soil for houseplants. It is also extremely lightweight, well draining and contains 25% perlite.
This will need no adjustments and you can tell just by looking at the consistency of this Christmas cactus soil that it is mixed well. I’ve used this to repot numerous cacti and succulents and have no complaints.
It is well packaged and is easily resealable. It arrived within a couple of days ordering and was neatly packaged with no damage done to the box!
Ingredients: Canadian Sphagnum Peat moss, Reed Sedge Peat, Perlite, Sand, Limestone
The blend of peat, perlite and sand is what makes this a well-draining Christmas cactus soil. The use of limestone is what balances out the pH and it is specially formulated for both desert and jungle cacti.
Hoffman is a well-established brand and I have used numerous products from them in the past. This soil will work fantastically with your holiday cactus and I have never had any issues.
The packaging comes in a resealable bag and the product isn’t overpriced for the quality you are getting.
It is fairly heavy on the organic material, so don’t be surprised if you find some larger than expected twigs and rocks in the mix. Because of the large amount of debris, I wouldn’t use this to report smaller succulents. However, for a Christmas cactus, this soil is ideal.
Ingredients: Peat Humus, Sphagnum Peat Moss, Sand, Perlite, Earthworm Castings, Limestone
Containing all the basic ingredients for a great Christmas cactus soil, Espoma organic cactus mix essentially does what it says on the tin.
Although it is one of the best ready-made potting soils on the market, I do find that sometimes I need to add just a little extra perlite to the mix to make it well draining. That being said, it is the only negative I have to say about this product.
Overall, it is a good mix, with all the correct ingredients. It is nicely packaged and isn’t super expensive. On the whole, if you are looking for a Christmas cactus potting mix then this one will do nicely.
These are my top 3 best potting soils for a Christmas cactus. I have tried a few others on the market, but find that they either aren’t as well-draining as I would like or haven’t got the right pH level. If you would like any more information on any of the products before you buy, leave a comment and I’ll get back to you.
DIY Christmas cactus soil mix
I know a lot of people that would rather get creative and DIY your own Christmas cactus soil mix. For this, you will need a number of different ingredients, all affordable, and get your gardening gloves to the ready!
Typically, I use one of the ready-mixed potting soils above, however from time to time I do like to get messy and make my own Christmas cactus soil mix. I have given details below about the ingredients I use, and the quantity of which I use them.
Christmas cactus soil mix recipe
Mixing your Christmas cactus soil together is easy, simply use equal parts of each ingredient and give it a good mix. The compost or loam will provide your holiday plant with the nutrients it needs and help retain the goodness. The perlite and peat moss provides for a well draining soil.
You should also be using a good fertilizer on your Christmas cactus and I recommend using Schultz Cactus Liquid Plant Food as it is cheap, cheerful, and does the job!
You will also need to adjust the pH level of your Christmas cactus soil recipe. To do this you can either add limestone to your mix or try using coffee grounds.
Making your own Christmas cactus soil is great fun, however, when buying each ingredient separately it can become quite pricey! I find that using the pre-mixes I have discussed above works just as well and will save you a lot of time.
Best soil for Christmas cactus concluded
I hope you have found this article helpful and are now well equipped with knowledge in choosing the best Christmas cactus soil for your wonderful holiday plant.
I have talked about the 3 best potting soils for a Christmas cactus and outlined why I like to use them. As a quick overview, these were:
- The Next Gardener Organic Cactus and Succulent Soil Mix
- Hoffman 10410 Organic Cactus and Succulent Soil Mix
- Epsoma CA$ 4-Quart Cactus Soil Mix
Obviously, there are hundreds of cactus potting soils on the market and I’m sure there are plenty of others that work great with a holiday cactus. These 3 are just the ones I personally choose to use and have experience with.
When looking for the best product to purchase, the main Christmas cactus soil requirements you need to look out for are the ingredients perlite (20% – 40%) and peat moss. This is what will make the soil well-draining.
You should also keep an eye out for limestone as this is used as a pH balancer.
If you need any other assistance or advice on Christmas cactus soil, feel free to leave a comment and I’ll get back to you!
Alternatively, you can read up on some common questions below: