No Blooms? Troubleshoot Your Christmas Cactus to Get Those Flowers

Many gardeners love to keep Christmas cactus in their home garden because it is one of the most popular holiday succulents. The plant looks better because of the bright flower blooms that come from the tendrils that drape and creep over it. The Christmas cactus is the best plant for people who want to keep a beautiful plant all year. While you can see this attractive plant thriving all year, the real magic happens when they bloom.

The colorful flowers bring joy and add color to the winters. There are times when these beautiful succulents won’t bloom, though, and you’ll need to figure out how to make them do so. Moreover, figuring out how to make it bloom can be quite challenging for you. But making sure your cute succulent gets enough water, the right temperature, and the right amount of light will help you learn how to make it bloom. This article will tell you what to do if your Christmas cactus hasn’t bloomed yet.

The vibrant holiday blooms of the Christmas cactus are the highlight of the season for many houseplant parents But what if those blooms never arrive? Diagnosing why your Christmas cactus isn’t blooming takes some detective work.

Let’s explore the key factors that can prevent flowers so you can get your Christmas cactus back on track.

The Basics of Christmas Cactus Blooming

Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera bridgesii) bloom in response to certain environmental triggers. As the days shorten in fall, the plant interprets the increasing darkness as a sign winter is coming.

In response, flower buds will form at the ends of the leaf segments. The colorful blooms open from late November through January, lasting about 6 weeks.

Understanding this natural rhythm helps pinpoint potential issues. Christmas cactus blooms are triggered by:

  • Shortening daylight hours
  • Cooler nighttime temperatures
  • Reduction in watering/dormancy period

Disruptions to these seasonal cues is usually why Christmas cactus fails to bloom.

Top Reasons a Christmas Cactus Won’t Bloom

Here are the most common factors that inhibit flowering in Christmas cactus

Insufficient Darkness

Christmas cactus require long uninterrupted dark periods about 12 hours each night to form bloom buds. Even brief light exposure can disrupt blooming.


  • Move plant to a cool, dark room from October-November.

  • Cover the plant for 12 hours overnight.

  • Ensure absolute darkness – no lamps or ambient light.

High Temperatures

Cooler nights between 60-65°F are ideal for Christmas cactus blooms. Warm rooms above 70°F often prevent flower formation.


  • Move the plant to the coolest room in your home in fall.

  • Run AC or use a fan to maintain cooler temps at night.


Too much moisture prevents the dormancy period required for blooms. Plants will stay in active growth rather than forming buds.


  • Allow the soil to partially dry out between waterings in fall.

  • Water only when the top 1″ of soil is dry.

  • Pour off any water in the saucer after watering.


Without adequate nutrients, Christmas cactus won’t have the energy to produce blooms. Nitrogen supports the proteins needed.


  • Use a balanced liquid fertilizer at 1/2 strength monthly in spring and summer.

  • Add compost or slow-release pellets to the potting mix.

Improper Light

Bright but indirect light keeps Christmas cactus actively growing. Too much or too little light disrupts blooming.


  • East or west windows offer ideal bright, indirect light.

  • Provide 14-16 hours of light exposure in spring/summer.

  • Move to shadier spot if showing signs of sunburn.

Not Rootbound

Christmas cactus form blooms most readily when slightly pot-bound. Too much space can reduce flowering.


  • Repot every 2-3 years in the spring until roots fill the pot.

  • Choose a pot only 1-2 inches larger when repotting.


As Christmas cactus mature over 5-10 years, their blooming vigor declines. Overcrowding exacerbates the problem.


  • Propagate new starters from healthy stem segments.

  • Rejuvenate overgrown plants by division.

  • Provide excellent care to support older plants.


Any disturbances just before the fall bloom period can cause flower bud drop. Stress also impedes flowering.


  • Keep conditions stable in fall – no repotting or moving.

  • Ensure consistent care and environment.

  • Pamper plants after shocks to regain strength.


Some Christmas cactus hybrids and cultivars are bred for traits other than prolific blooms. Their flowering may be reduced.


  • Stick with heirloom/species varieties for best flowers.

  • Hybrids like ‘Winterbloom’ and ‘Early Joy’ have good flowering reputations.

Fall Care Tips for Abundant Holiday Blooms

Getting a Christmas cactus to bloom requires paying close attention to its care in the lead-up to the holidays. Here are some best practices:

  • Move to a Cool, Dark Room – Starting October 1st, provide at least 12 hours of uninterrupted darkness daily by moving the plant to a cool basement or bedroom. Cover with a box or cloth at night.

  • Reduce Watering – Allow the soil to partially dry out between waterings. Aim for the top 1″ of soil to dry. Only water when needed.

  • Monitor Temperatures – Maintain average temperatures around 60-65°F. Run air conditioning, use a fan, or move to a cool windowsill at night.

  • Ensure Bright Indirect Light – Give 14 hours of bright light from an east or west window during the day. Avoid direct sun.

  • Don’t Repot or Fertilize – Refrain from repotting, dividing, or fertilizing in the fall to prevent shock.

  • Prune Back and Shape – You can prune and shape plants in summer after blooming. Remove dead stems and shape as desired.

  • Watch for Bud Set – Look for tiny round buds at the ends of the leaf segments. This confirms your care tricks are working!

  • Display Blooms – Once buds open, you can move the plant to a bright location indoors. Keep cool and water sparingly.

Troubleshooting Lack of Rebloom

Sometimes a Christmas cactus will bloom one year but fail to flower the next. Here are some things to check if rebloom isn’t happening:

  • Were conditions different than the previous year? lighting, temperature, location, etc. Consistency is key.

  • Did flower bud drop occur? Any shock or stress can cause this.

  • Is the plant rootbound? Repot in the spring if overcrowded.

  • Are nutrients sufficient? Fertilize monthly from March-September.

  • Has the plant aged significantly? Divide or propagate new plants.

  • Did you accidentally leave lights on at night? Even brief light will prevent blooms.

Minor environmental changes are often the culprit, but you can course correct by adhering to the fall care checklist. With attentive care, most Christmas cactus will bloom again the next season.

Questions to Ask if Your Christmas Cactus Still Won’t Bloom

If you’ve diligently followed the proper seasonal care for your Christmas cactus but flowering is still absent, ask yourself these questions:

  • How old is the plant? Blooming diminishes after 5-10 years. Propagate or start new plants.

  • When was it last repotted? Overgrown plants bloom less. Repot in fresh mix if roots are crowded.

  • Is it getting 12+ hours of darkness? Even minor light disruptions overnight will prevent blooms. Cover completely.

  • Are temps staying above 70°F? Cool nights are essential. Use AC and fans to maintain cooler conditions.

  • Could genetics be the cause? Some hybrids bloom less prolifically. Stick to heirloom varieties.

  • Has anything stressed the plant recently? Repotting, moving, drought, or excess water can inhibit flowering.

  • Are you properly reducing water in fall? Dormancy triggers blooms. Allow soil to partly dry out.

Caring for a Non-Blooming Christmas Cactus

If your Christmas cactus refuses to bloom no matter what you try, don’t despair! Focus on keeping it healthy and enjoy it as a foliage plant. Here are some general care tips:

  • Place in bright indirect light from an east or west window. Avoid direct sun.

  • Water thoroughly when the top inch of soil is dry.

  • Mist leaves periodically to boost humidity.

  • Use room temperature water and avoid cold drafts.

  • Repot every 2-3 years in spring in a slightly larger container.

  • Fertilize monthly from March-September with a balanced houseplant food.

  • Prune back and shape as desired after bloom season ends.

  • Propagate new plants occasionally to refresh genetics.

  • Monitor for pests like mealybugs and treat any issues promptly.

While flowers are fleeting, you can enjoy a Christmas cactus for many years to come. Consistent seasonal care maximizes blooms, but don’t be discouraged if they sometimes fail to appear.

The Takeaway on Christmas Cactus Blooms

A Christmas cactus that refuses to bloom can be frustrating, but a bit of troubleshooting usually reveals the culprit. Temperatures, light, dormancy, stress, and genetics all come into play.

Stick to the guidelines for proper fall care to trigger bountiful holiday blooms. Rule out environmental issues and provide attentive year-round care. With some patience and detective work, you can coax those colorful flowers back each season.

Provide 12 hours of darkness and cooler temperature

Since Christmas Cactus is a short-day plant, it needs 12 to 24 hours of darkness every day and should be kept in a cool room to flower.

Move your Christmas cactus to a spot where it will receive at least 12 hours of darkness. You can also cover it with a piece of clothing around 6 PM and take it off in the morning. Continue this for approximately 6 weeks to promote the production of the flower buds.

Christmas Cactus with Orange Flowers

Remember that bright light that comes from the side is fine during the day, but it needs 12 hours of total darkness at night. No matter where you keep your Christmas Cactus, don’t turn on the lights at night, not even for a short time. It will break the dark cycle required and interrupt the blooming process.

For Christmas cactus to bloom, the temperature should be between 50 and 55F. You may need to turn down the heater or look for a cooler spot in the room.

How to Make Christmas Cactus Bloom

Christmas Cactus Bloom Cycle, How to Get Your Christmas Cactus to Bloom, Christmas Cactus Blooming in Spring, Christmas cactus bloom time, How many times a year does a Christmas cactus bloom, When to stop watering Christmas cactus

Christmas Cactus Succulent in decorative pot.

Before going into specifics on how to make the Christmas cactus bloom, it’s important to know what this plant is like. Christmas Cactus, also known as Thanksgiving or holiday cactus. Although classified as “cactus”, Christmas cactus has very different care need compared to its desert relatives. As a forest cactus, this plant thrives in more tropical conditions. They prefer bright, indirect light and a richer, more organic potting mix. Their water need is also higher than other succulent plants so don’t leave their soil too dry.

Their bloom season comes during the fall, usually in the early days of November. The “trick” to get them to bloom comes down to three factors: minimal watering, light, and temperature.

To start, you need to limit the amount of water your plant normally receives around October. You should only water the top inch or so of soil, and you should only water the plant when it feels dry to the touch. This watering schedule will force the plant to enter the dormancy period. Not to forget, dormancy is crucial for Christmas cactus to bloom.

why is my christmas cactus not blooming

Christmas Cactus (or Thanksgiving Cactus) WON’T FLOWER??? Here is what to do!


Why does my Christmas cactus not flower?

The Christmas cactus will not bloom properly if exposed to artificial light at night in fall. Flowers may also fail to develop if the plant is exposed to temperatures above 70°F. Night temperatures of 60 to 65°F with slightly warmer daytime temperatures are ideal for flower formation.

What two things trigger a Christmas cactus to bloom?

Blooms requires two things: cooler temperatures and long nights. These cacti are short-day plants, which means that blooms are triggered by long dark cool nights. They need between 14-16 hours of uninterrupted darkness and 8 hours of daylight for between 3 – 6 weeks to set flower buds.

Why is my Christmas cactus not blooming?

Another reason why your Christmas cactus may fail to bloom is because you are exposing it to too much light. While desert cacti love a lot of sunlight and should get at least four hours of direct sunlight every day, a Christmas cactus is a tropical plant native to the tropical rainforest and doesn’t need direct sunlight to thrive.

How do I encourage my Christmas cactus to bloom?

To encourage your **Christmas cactus** to bloom, follow these steps: 1.**Light and Temperature**: Christmas cacti naturally bloom during the winter season.They thrive when exposed to about a week of long

Why is my Christmas cactus falling apart?

Overwatering causes so many Christmas cactus issues; it should come as no surprise that too much water can cause your plant to fall apart literally. This is why it’s so important to use a pot with a drainage hole. You’ll want to check the roots to see if your plant has root rot.

Why does my Christmas cactus Wilt?

One of the most common problems with Christmas Cactus is improper watering. Overwatering or underwatering can cause the leaves to wilt and shrivel up. This can be due to a lack of knowledge about the plant’s watering needs or incorrect watering habits. Another problem that Christmas cactus owners face is stem rot.

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