How Large Do Christmas Cactus Grow?
Figuring out which plants to grow throughout your landscape can take doing additional research. For example, do you want to grow a Christmas cactus but don't know how big they get? Are Christmas cacti generally small plants?
Luckily, we've done plenty of digging and have the answers below!
A Christmas cactus will usually grow between six and 12 inches tall. This cactus species is very small and often doesn't exceed a foot tall upon full maturity. However, your Christmas cactus may spread a bit if it has plenty of space, making it a great ground cover.
You can expect a Christmas cactus to become around 12-24 inches wide as it matures, so try and leave room surrounding your cactus.
As we start this article, we will cover all things Christmas cacti and discuss how big one will grow. Whether you want to start a desert garden, have questions about an existing Christmas cactus in your yard, or need tips and tricks, we're here to help. With that said, let's dive right into this topic!
How Big Will A Christmas Cactus Get?
You can usually expect a Christmas cactus to grow 6-12 inches tall and 12-24 inches wide. As we mentioned, this desert species tend to stay fairly short, often showing off in spread.
Christmas cacti are generally smaller growing, making them perfect for urban gardening or simply in a pot on your porch. Like many cactus species, you won't need to allot too much space to grow a Christmas variety.
You may also know this succulent as the 'holiday cactus' or the 'crab cactus,' so it goes by a few different names. Regardless, once you plant one: it is sure to become the centerpiece of your garden.
Some gardeners use Christmas cacti as ground-covering plants because they spread up to two feet, so that's another idea for your landscape.
How Long Does It Take For A Christmas Cactus To Reach Full Size?
Although this will vary depending on your cactus's climate and conditions, you can usually expect a Christmas cactus to reach full sizing within 2-3 years.
Of course, that's assuming you plant a cactus that is already somewhat developed rather than by seed. If you grow a Christmas cactus by seed, your timeline turns into about five years.
Cacti can be somewhat slow growers, so give your plant plenty of TLC and time to mature. According to experts, an easy way to see a Christmas cactus reach full size faster is by giving it plenty of light, water, and nutrients.
The better you care for your cactus, the faster it grows and matures.
How Far Does A Christmas Cactus Spread?
When it comes to the spread of a Christmas cactus, you can generally expect this to be two feet. As we covered above, your Christmas cactus may grow between 12 and 24 inches upon maturity in total spread/width.
Since this species doesn't grow too tall, you want to shift focus to the width of your Christmas cactus. A good plan is to give your succulent plenty of ground space, allowing it to spread out and mature.
If you want to grow your Christmas cactus in a pot, try and aim for one with plenty of room and a deep under-area. Your Christmas cactus will also thank you for the below-ground space, as it can spread its roots.
Deeper soil can also help during periods of drought, as the Christmas cactus stores rainwater far below the soil's surface and in its fleshy stems.
So, although your cactus may not have a towering look upon maturity: you should expect quite the spread.
How Can I Make A Christmas Cactus Grow Bigger?
There are many ideas for those with a Christmas cactus wanting to see more growth. Usually, a Christmas cactus will grow faster if you improve its soil conditions.
According to Clean Air Gardening, try a mix of equal parts sand, leaf mold, and standard commercial potting soil for your Christmas cactus.
Changing out your cactus's existing soil can cause it to gain energy and begin growing faster and better than before. As we covered, your Christmas cactus should become upwards of a foot tall and two feet wide, so you shouldn't have a problem seeing this type of growth if you follow our suggestion.
On top of that, your cactus may be getting too little light. For example, if a Christmas cactus is growing in lower light, you may notice it slow down or stop growing entirely.
Therefore, we recommend planting one in the full sun or somewhere with bright, direct sun exposure throughout the morning or afternoon.
Another way to make your Christmas cactus grow faster is by watering it with an Epsom salt solution: mix one teaspoon of Epsom salt with one gallon of water to do this.
So, there are many ways to encourage growth and a healthier cactus!
Should I Plant My Christmas Cactus In A Pot Or In The Ground?
Growing your Christmas cactus in a pot may be safer, depending on your climate. Since this succulent doesn't do well in the extreme cold, you don't want to try planting it in the soil if you aren't in a specific growing zone.
According to garden pros, you only want to plant a Christmas cactus in the ground if you're in USDA zone nine or higher. Therefore, any place below that zone will not be suitable for your cactus.
In addition, you want to ensure the in-ground location you choose for your Christmas cactus has the right conditions. Remember, this plant needs bright light and won't grow well in too much shade.
If you decide to keep your cactus in a pot/planter, you must be mindful of its location and soil conditions. This succulent doesn't respond well to "wet feet" (overwatering), so find a container with good drainage.
So, you can certainly grow Christmas cacti in pots or the ground, depending on where you live.
Do Christmas Cactus Like Shallow Or Deep Pots?
If you want to pot-grow your Christmas cactus, try and choose a somewhat deep, spacious container. As we mentioned earlier, this species tends to spread its roots a bit as it matures, making a deeper pot the perfect choice.
Many experts claim that Christmas cacti are slightly potbound, meaning they tend to fill out the container you grow them in. So, if your pot is super shallow, you could notice roots coming out of the bottom drainage holes.
One of the mistakes gardeners make with Christmas cactuses is trying to plant them in tiny pots, ultimately wondering why their cactus won't grow as big as it should.
The larger your pot, the larger your plant will be able to grow and mature over the years. However, if you want to keep your cactus smaller, then it's perfectly okay to choose a smaller planter.
Just try staying around six inches or larger.
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Where Is The Best Place To Grow Christmas Cactus?
For those wanting to grow this festive cactus at home, there are some factors to consider. Generally, a Christmas cactus will respond well to warm year-round weather and plenty of sunlight.
However, if you want to grow one indoors, you need to position it in a north- or east-facing window. Miracle-Gro claims that these plants thrive in humidity and bright, indirect sunlight, so if you can mimic these conditions: expect your cactus to grow better.
As we mentioned, you don't want to keep your Christmas cactus in the full shade. Instead, give it partial sun exposure, ideally with the majority of that light coming in during the morning.
The afternoon sun can be overbearing to this species, so if you can find a way to protect it during that period, your plant will appreciate it.
On top of that, you want to give Christmas cacti plenty of space to spread and mature. If possible, purchase a pot with space for your cactus to develop its roots, which will help it grow larger too.
Does Christmas Cactus Do Better Inside?
Since Christmas cacti prefer humidity, growing one indoors can be the best choice in some regions. For example, if your cactus is in a desert, it could have trouble getting the moisture it needs to develop.
Even though cacti and succulent species thrive in desert conditions, your Christmas plant could have trouble if the weather is severe and you don't give it enough shade/protection.
Therefore, if you prefer to keep your succulent indoors in a bright window, we don't see an issue. The key is providing your Christmas cactus with bright light, water, and nutrient-rich soil.
Again, you don't need to have your indoor plant burning up in a window for hours at a time, but try to position it so your cactus can get dappled sunlight in the morning and afternoon.
To Finish Up
Whether you have a Christmas cactus in your garden or want to plant one, it's always good to understand how big one gets. We found that Christmas cacti grow to be around 6-12 inches tall and 12-24 inches wide upon maturity.
Even though these succulents aren't massive, your plant can still benefit from a larger pot or section of land. Additionally, you may want to change your Christmas cacti's soil if you notice slowed growth, which should give it a boost of energy.
Have fun gardening!
And while we have your attention, check out these related posts:
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