My Christmas Cactus Buds Are Not Opening – Why? What To Do?

Is your Christmas Cactus not blooming despite taking good care of it? If so, we have the answer why! We did the research and found out why your Christmas Cactus buds aren't opening. Read on to know why and what to do.

Christmas Cactus plants are shy bloomers and almost only bloom in ideal conditions. The reason why your Christmas cactus isn't blooming may be because of one or a combination of the following reasons:

  • It's not yet blooming time.
  • It's not cool enough.
  • It is overwatered.
  • It isn't getting the right amount of light or darkness.
  • It was repotted at a bad time.

Additionally, you should also be sure whether it's really a Christmas Cactus.

You won't be able to help your Christmas cactus bloom if you only know why it's not blooming. The key is knowing what to do next, and this post has it all! Read on to learn more.

Why Is My Christmas Cactus Not Blooming?

Christmas cactus plant - Schlumbergera gaertneri

There are 6 possible reasons why your Christmas cactus isn't blooming. Even if you're watering them the right way, or keeping them cool, there must be something that is causing this problem.

It's Not Yet Blooming Time

The name Christmas cactus is associated to the general timeframe during which it blooms. Christmas cacti typically bloom from December to February although some bloom as early as November to January.

Some hybrids such as the Thanksgiving cacti have an altered timeframe. If it's not around the blooming timeframe, the buds wouldn't open.

Just be patient and wait for the right timeframe and it'll bloom nicely. But only if you take good care and follow the proper ways to maintain it.

It's Not Kept Cool

Keeping your plant cool for long periods of time will trigger the buds to open. If you live in warmer areas, you shouldn't be leaving your plant out in the sun or in direct sunlight indoors.

If possible, keep your plant in the darkness preferably for 12 hours or more. The best temperature is 50 degrees Fahrenheit, but the lower 60s would also work fine.

It's also important not to keep it in a room with artificial lights as this can also cause the same problem.

Find somewhere dark and cool to keep your plant. Moving it into a closet or basement with absolute darkness for 12 hours straight can work wonders. An office during closing time would be a good place, too.

Additionally, you can also drape over a curtain or light-blocking fabric around 6pm to 6am. Ensure that the fabric doesn't damage your plant.

Keep doing this for the next six weeks to allow the buds to open.


Watering can in action on black

Overwatering is one of the main reasons why some Christmas cacti do not bloom. Although they need to be watered regularly, you should avoid overwatering them around blooming time which is from November to February.

Doing so will increase the risk of bugs, pests, and rot. Depending on your area, you shouldn't be watering your cactus multiple times a week.

The general rule is that you should let the topsoil dry, that's about once a week. Feel the topsoil about half an inch deep if it's dry to the touch, if it is, water the soil. It's important that you do not let your soil completely dry out because it can cause the buds to fall out.

Your plant's water intake also depends on the pot. Pots made of terracotta clay tend to be porous which means that you'll need more watering than other pots. Plastic pots do not need as much watering.

Not Getting Enough Light or Nighttime Dark

There should be a balance between the sunlight and darkness your Christmas cactus receives.

Unlike other types of cactus which thrive in the desert, Christmas cacti prefer an environment identical to their native environment, a tropical rainforest.

This means striking a balance between light and shade; if not, its buds will never open.

Too much light will result in stunted growth and burnt leaves. Signs of too much sun exposure are purple and wilting leaves.

Untimely Repotting

When you repot your cactus think of two things: the right size and the right time. The cactus' pot plays a big role in its overall health.

Avoid using pots larger than the cactus. When your pot is more compact and smaller, your plant will easily bloom.

This is because Christmas cacti prefer to be root bound, which makes sense because succulents get most of their hydration source from the air and not the soil. The only reason you need to maintain the soil is to have healthy roots.

But what if you want to repot your Christmas cactus, when is the right time? Well, repotting your plant should only be done once in a few years. Or when it reaches the mature age of three. Avoid repotting your plant yearly.

You'll know the plant is ready for repotting when the roots are poking out of the drainage holes in the pot.

Immediately repot the plant or else the soil will collect all the moisture, which is a no-no. When choosing a new pot, pick a bigger size by only a few inches. Doing so will allow your plant to breathe while it's still in a compact environment.

Check out this set of flowerpots on Amazon

Is It Really A Christmas Cactus?

Most hybrids sold in the market are a copy of the Christmas cactus. And they all look very similar. But holiday cacti just like the Christmas cactus have different blooming times and they all bloom around the holiday which they're associated with.

Holiday cacti such as the Easter cactus and the Thanksgiving cactus both look very similar to the Christmas cactus. Only that they flower in different timeframes.

The key is to identify which holiday cactus you have. If you have a Christmas cactus, the leaves should look like a teardrop or a scallop. Easter cacti have rounded edges and Thanksgiving cacti have pointed edges.

For your reference, here's what a Christmas cactus looks like:

pink Christmas cactus flower with the Latin name Schlumberger on the windowsill blooms

Thanksgiving cactus:

Blooming Thanksgiving Cactus

Easter cactus:

Indoor flower Rhipsalidopsis

Common Issues Why Your Christmas Cactus Buds Aren't Opening

Pink Schlumbergera, Christmas cactus or Thanksgiving cactus, My Christmas Cactus Buds Are Not Opening - Why? What To Do?

Besides the mentioned reasons as to why your Christmas cactus is not opening its buds, your cactus might be facing other issues as well. It's a pretty common occurrence, but you have to look out for them to ensure that your plant is happy and healthy.

Root And Stem Rot

Root and stem rot is a common problem among Christmas cactus buds. It's a major concern on your plant's health. This rot is a fungi infection that's taking over the root system of the plant.

This happens when you overwater your cactus or use the wrong potting mix.

Make sure that you're not overwatering the plant. If you're not sure, however, you can always check for signs.

One sign is a browning stem. If you check the base of the stem and it's brownish, the soil isn't draining properly.

There are two ways to fix this issue: repot the plant to a slightly bigger pot to allow more space for faster drainage; or amend the soil.

Bud Drop

If instead of opening, your buds are falling off from the end of the leaves, this may be a cause for concern. It's totally normal for some buds to fall off, but if it happens too much, you might want to address the issue.

The reason behind this is because you're watering your cactus too much or too little. Follow the tip mentioned above regarding watering your cactus to fix this.

Discolored Leaves

The only color you should see in your leaves is green. Nothing else. If you see that the leaves have gone yellow or red, there's a problem.

A yellow-colored leaf means that the plant is slightly sunburnt. A red colored leaf is the worst-case scenario, your plant has been severely sunburnt.

Remember to keep your Christmas cactus in the shade, and never leave it under direct light.

In Conclusion

Pink Schlumbergera, Christmas cactus or Thanksgiving cactus

Considering how sensitive a Christmas cactus can be, its buds may not open if you're not properly taking care of it as ideally as possible. 

Keeping them in the shade and exposing them to indirect light will reward you with lots of blooms during flowering season.

Also keep in mind how you frequently water your cactus and how much. Keep it at a low and only when the topsoil is dry to the touch. 

Be patient with your cactus and in no time, it'll be blooming with flowers!

If you enjoyed this post, check out these helpful articles:

Is Christmas Cactus A Succulent? [What’s The Difference?]

How Large Do Christmas Cactus Grow?

One comment

  1. your info was very helpful, am most appreciative. Very clear, covered all aspects, had no idea there were different cacti- Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving. Again, thanks so much.

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