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Pruning a Christmas Cactus after blooming

Lacey, WA

My Christmas cactus is getting to large for the living room and I need to prune it down but don't know where or how to start. It is over 37 inches wide and stands over 30 inches tall. It is so full of flowers that it is drooping down from the weight right now. Any advise would be appreciated. I have had this plant for over 10 years and it started out as 3 little shoots in a 2 inch pot, can't beleive that I still have it growing so well. I am not known for my plant growing abilities. Also, after it is pruned do I need to do anything special to help it over the shock?
Thank you for your expertise.

Ayrshire Scotland, United Kingdom

Hi Oldhat, I find when my Cacti like yours gets too big, I either pot it into a hanging type container so it can hang over the sides for another few years, or, wait till the flowers have all really gone over, then gently snap off the wilted flowers, step back and really look at the plant, if you still need to reduce the size, then the best way is to snap off all the longer bits, look at the plant again, remove more if required, leave all the removed bits on a paper for a day or so, to dry off the growing tips, then replant these into nice new well draining compost, always place the new bits into the pot the way they have been growing, like if it arches to the left, plant it to grow that way so you don't stress the new cuttings too much, if you get a good few pots full, they make lovely gifts for friends next Christmas. I always give mine a diluted liquid feed after flowering to help build up new energy and reduce the watering so rot don't set in, I place mine outdoors for a few weeks come warm summer too as this helps harden up the growing root ends of theses plants so they get nice and strong for flowering the following Christmas, believe it or not, but mine has flowered 3 times this year, been a funny year for all my plants though. To remove bits, don't use pruners or you will cut the growing leaf axles and they will rot, just look between the leaves and you will see where they join onto each bit, that is the part you need to tug away, I usually just bend mine back on itself and they come apart really easy without damaging the leaves, hope this helps you to reduce the size if you need to. Weenel.

Saint James, MO(Zone 6b)

WeeNel, here you are again! I needed to know all of this as well, just hadn't thought to ask! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all!

Saint Louis, MO

Any way you can post a picture of this magnificent sounding plant? I love Christmas cactus and this one sound gorgeous.

This message was edited Dec 24, 2007 3:35 AM

Ayrshire Scotland, United Kingdom

Hi Misty, long time hearing from you but seen you on some of the forums, have a wonderful Christmas and hope 2008 is good to you and yours, very best wishes. WeeNel.

Saint James, MO(Zone 6b)

Hi WeeNel, Always good to see ya around and get your advice! Hoping you and yours, and everyone else out there, has the Merriest Christmas ever and a blessed New Year!

Lacey, WA

I am new at this, so be patient. I will try to attach a photo of my Christmas cactus.
The picture doesn't do justice -it is just gorgeous. This is the one that I needed help on as to pruning it down to a manageable size. It has gotten so large it is difficult to move around in the house.
Hope the photo transfer works OK.

Thumbnail by oldhat
Saint James, MO(Zone 6b)

WOW that is a beautiful CC!

Poughkeepsie, NY(Zone 6a)

Oldhat that is AWESOME!

Fredericksburg, VA(Zone 7b)

What a stunning plant!

SW, WI(Zone 4b)

Beautiful - I wouldn't touch it if it were mine!

Ayrshire Scotland, United Kingdom

Hi Oldhat, it sure is a beauty, about the same size as mine, they are inclined to grow heavy to the one side as they start to lean over and can topple, the info I gave at the top of the thread will help you on how to cut it back, the other thing I would say is, while the plants are in bud or actually in flower, they can drop all the buds/flowers just from the shock of being moved around, don't know if it is the different light or temps that make them do that when moved, but follow the things I sent you up above and you should have no trouble cutting the plant back to a more managable size. good luck. WeeNel.

Brownstown, IN(Zone 5b)

What kind of pot is that thing in. It is georgeous!! Long for the day mine are that large.

Baltimore, MD(Zone 7a)


I have read that these cacti will drop their buds if you change their orientation to the light source. The buds will try to turn (again) towards the light and will fall off.
In other words, do not rotate the plant once the buds have formed.


I would not touch it either. it is spectacular! Find an appropriately heavy plant stand for it and display it with pride. I LOVE huge Christmas cactus!


Lacey, WA

Indynannyof8: Right now the Christmas cactus is potted in a 11"by 10"deep pot. That pot is placed in another pot so as to hold it in a plant stand to elevate it above the table top about 5 inches.
I need to repot it this year in that it is root bound and does not absorb water very well. I know that i will loose branches when i do this in that it is so large it is unweildy. Between that and pruning it I'm sure it will be a little picky about what it wants to do for awhile. Hope no in that I don't do real well with my other plants but it is fun to try.
Happy New year to all.

Ayrshire Scotland, United Kingdom

Hi Oldhat, when you do re-pot your plant, do it before you water it so that the large plant will come out the pot easier than if watered, the soil will have dried and shrunk a bit when dry, for my large Cacti, I always do it when there is help about as the foliage breaks into bits as soon as you touch it, I turn the pot and plant upside down, holding my fingers around the top of the soil while it is upside down I get my helper to gently tap the bottom, and sides of the pot as I give a delicate shake downwards, the plant usually starts to drop from the pot, it is best to have the larger pot ready with some soil to the depth you need, and mix in your plant food if you wish, then slide the old plant into the new pot, cut away the foliage as I said way up the top of the thread, then add the new soil around the sides of the new pot, tapping the pot as you go so you dont get any air pockets in the soil, I top drees the top of the pot with very small gravel to keep water off the center, or splashing as I water the plant, they dont like too much water inside the growing tips. good luck. WeeNel.

Baltimore, MD(Zone 7a)


Good advice on repotting! If you don't mind, I have some additional suggestions.

To avoid leaf/stem breakage, take a study plastic bag (maybe one of those new stretchy ones) and cut a hole in the bottom so that the old pot will slide comfortably through it--but only up to the bottom of the plant. Don't make the hole too big. it will stretch.
Now. like WeeNel said, turn the plant upside down, using your 5 fingers as prongs, and pull the bag over the dangling plant just past the base of it. This should contain the plant safely until all the repotting is done.

You ARE going to need a helper here, as you are stuck holding this heavy plant upside down in your hands and won't be able to do the next step. I bet it weight a ton!

Your helper should now add enough soil to the bottom of the new pot to bring the plant to it's original depth after repotting. Here's the trick! Using the old pot as a "mold" of sorts, fill the soil all around it and tamp it down. If the pot sits too deep--left it out and add more soil at the bottom. You want the cavity in the soil to match the root ball, therefore you are using the old pot as a guide.
Once the soil is all tamped down all around the rim of the old pot, lift the empty pot out and then all you have to do is gently place the existing root ball into the hole and--voila!--you are done! Give the pot a few gentle thumps to settle things a bit and then, slit the plastic bag and release the fronds and it should suffer minimal damage.

I have found this method to work best when transplanting. Works for all sized pots and plants. It is very hard to add soil around the edges once the plant has been placed in the pot, especially with fragile plants like African Violets. Much damage is sure to occur.

Of course, while you are standing there holding this bare-rooted plant, you may want to, gently, loosen some of the major roots from their cramped condition to help them re-grow in the new soil while your helper is messing around with the new pot.
You COULD mix, into the new soil, some slow-release fertilizer, like "Osmacote", but not too much. Maybe a tsp. for the whole pot.

Good luck! Gita

Ayrshire Scotland, United Kingdom

Hi Gita, your a gardener after my own hat, too bad the wheel had been invented before our time Ha Ha Ha, we could be millionaires by now and buying all the plants we wanted, well I do that anyway, just have to tell husband that someone either dropped them off for me or, they were so cheep it was a shame to see them go to waist, OHHHHHHH, has my nose got bigger, Happy Gardening Gita and best wishes for next year. Weenel.

Saint Louis, MO

WOW!!! I can't believe how beautiful this plant is. I'm sure the coloring is far more terrific in person than this photo, but even the picture looks too good to be true. I'm with Nan. Don't mess with this gorgeous speciman. You've got a winner on your hands!

This message was edited Jan 1, 2008 11:34 PM

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