How to Identify, Prevent, and Treat

Christmas cacti are very fashionable houseplants and wonderful presents for the vacation season. In direction of the top of December, these succulent vegetation erupt in star-shaped, brightly coloured flowers sprouting from the ideas of emerald inexperienced leaf-covered stems. Over time, these vegetation can start to look a bit off. Perhaps they’re discolored, or their leaves are dropping or wilting. Whereas a couple of widespread ailments can have an effect on Christmas cactus, the excellent news is that they’re widespread with most houseplants and sometimes are associated to rising situations. 

On the subject of Christmas cacti and most houseplants, stopping their ailments is far simpler than treating them afterward. Following together with primary care tips will make it easier to alongside this path. 

On this article, I’ll briefly assessment which ailments are commonest in these stunning houseplants and how you can stop and deal with them. 


Christmas cacti are succulents that thrive in heat, oblique gentle, and well-drained soil.

These stunning vegetation are succulents, and as with the remainder of the succulent bunch, they want heat, gentle, and good drainage.

  • Place your cactus in brilliant however oblique gentle for many of the season. Nevertheless, throughout their dormant stage, they’ll use a bit extra shade. In case you are rising your plant outdoor, preserve it out of direct daylight throughout dormancy.
  • Watering generally is a difficult stability that every one is dependent upon the place your plant is positioned and what your own home is like. This succulent wants some humidity and likes to have its soil moist more often than not. Whereas Christmas cacti can tolerate intervals of dryness, it’s illiberal of oversaturated soil. That is the place ailments run rampant. If the air in your house is dry, use a humidifier or pebble tray so as to add humidity to your vegetation.
  • The perfect temperature vary is wherever from 60–70 levels Fahrenheit. Some chilly fall air is important to provide flowers. Transferring your pot close to a drafty window will help with this.
  • Fertilize with a balanced normal houseplant fertilizer within the fall. Apply in accordance with the package deal directions. Christmas cacti additionally profit from some further magnesium. Magnesium will help with total plant well being in addition to the manufacturing of brightly coloured foliage and flowers.

Botrytis Blight 

A close-up of a cactus, densely covered in sharp thorns, nestles within a pot brimming with pebbles. The base of the cactus shows signs of botrytis blight, indicated by discolored patches.
This illness thrives in moist soil and decaying foliage.

This fungal illness, additionally known as gray mildew, can have an effect on any decorative plant. The fungus that causes this illness likes to feed on soil moisture and any decaying foliage that will nonetheless be on the plant. It will also be discovered resting on the floor of the soil. 

This illness is commonest after rain or in areas of excessive humidity. It’s possible you’ll first discover botrytis blight signs on older leaves and flowers. 

That is a straightforward one to determine. In case your stems, buds, or flowers seem gray and fuzzy you doubtless have botrytis blight in your arms. This gray fuzz may additionally be seen on the floor of the soil as nicely.

Excessive humidity is a primary situation for botrytis blight. This may be difficult for the reason that Christmas cactus does like some humidity.

  • Hold your vegetation cleaned: take away fallen flowers or leaves and trim any stems that look unwell. It will assist to maintain airflow transferring all through the plant.
  • Give your vegetation some area. Houseplants might look pretty when clustered collectively, however if in case you have loads of humidity in your house, giving vegetation area will do them nicely.
  • When you’re watering, be mild. Attempt to not get any water on the leaves or trigger any splashing. The splashing of the spores with water will trigger them to unfold extra quickly in your cactus.

Therapy of botrytis blight is similar to prevention:

  • Start by trying to enhance air high quality and airflow across the plant. This might imply transferring the plant away from different vegetation or giving it a bit little bit of a trim.
  • Take away all contaminated plant tissues and throw them away. Burn them if doable
  • Sanitize your clippers or another instruments that you’ve got used within the course of. This might embody any scissors, snips, watering can, and so forth.
  • In critical circumstances, buy a copper fungicide and spray in accordance with the labeled directions.

Stem Rot 

A close-up of green and yellow leaves, now browning and blackening at the edges, showing signs of a stem rot condition. The deterioration is spreading from the base upwards, affecting multiple sections of the plant.
Christmas cacti can endure from stem rot, seen as brown spots on stems and leaves.

Also called basal stem rot, this illness will seem on vegetation dwelling in moist soil in a cool atmosphere. Stem rot is produced by two totally different fungi: fusarium and phytophthora.

If stem rot is superior, you might be higher off beginning with a brand new plant. If a couple of wholesome stems stay, you’ll be able to propagate a brand new plant or two. 

On the soil line, you will note a brown spot or line alongside the stems of your Christmas cactus. Because the illness progresses, the scar will flip tan, and plant tissue will start to fall off of the plant going straight by to the middle of the plant.

Apart from the trademark brown spot, you might discover yellowing and wilting of the plant’s leaves. One other widespread signal of stem rot is brown spots on the leaves that seem as watermarks.

Don’t overwater this plant. You may apply fungicide in a preventative method to maintain this illness from showing in your vegetation.

In case you are not sure how a lot you have to water, simply regulate the soil. These vegetation do finest when the soil is moist more often than not, but when they’re overwatered, they may endure. It’s okay to permit your soil to dry out barely in between waterings.

Deal with with a fungicide similar to fungonil or copper fungicide. Maintain off on watering till the soil has dried out.

In case your plant is giant, you’ll be able to try to chop away the broken tissue whereas leaving as a lot of the wholesome plant behind as you’ll be able to. Don’t neglect to avoid wasting a couple of wholesome cuttings to propagate.

Necrotic Spot Virus 

Green leaf in a close-up, showing signs of necrotic spot virus, marked by small, brown lesions encircled by yellow halos. The virus causes cell death, forming discolored spots, and impacting the leaf's health and growth.
Transmitted by thrips, necrotic spot virus is normally deadly as soon as signs manifest.

Also called impatiens necrotic spot virus, this illness is a power to be reckoned with. Transmitted primarily by thrips, it’s typically inconceivable to avoid wasting your plant as soon as it exhibits indicators of this illness. 

These bugs have sucking mouthparts, and whereas feasting on plant tissues, they may transmit the illness from plant to plant. 

Crops contaminated with necrotic spot virus could have yellow leaves, in addition to wilted stems and wilted leaves.

Hold your eyes peeled for indicators of thrips. This illness is unfold by these pesky pests.

  • Place sticky traps in your pot to watch for the presence of thrips
  • Use neem or insecticidal cleaning soap to deal with any thrip infestation

Necrotic spot virus is robust to deal with. You probably have gotten rid of any thrips that had been current and are nonetheless left with a sick plant, you’ll be able to start by isolating the plant out of your different houseplants. Subsequent, take away all of the soil out of your plant’s roots and any infested plant tissue. Repot in contemporary potting soil and a clear, disinfected pot.

Place all contaminated plant tissue, in addition to any potting soil, in a single trash bag and eliminate it. Clear all instruments that you’ve got used throughout this course of as soon as you might be completed by bleaching or utilizing disinfectant wipes.

Root Rot 

A close-up of revealing a plant affected by root rot, evidenced by the darkened and deteriorated plant base. The soil around it has turned black, suggesting waterlogging or excessive dampness contributing to the condition.
The blackening of the foundation system is a hidden however essential symptom of root rot and may result in wilting.

Two forms of root rot can have an effect on Christmas cacti: phytophthora and pythium. Pythium root rot is extra prevalent in potted vegetation similar to houseplants. This kind of root rot will assault new root suggestions, generally spreading to total root techniques. 

In case your potting soil is excessively moist and can’t dry out, your plant will endure additional signs and be tough to revive

The commonest symptom can be probably the most tough to see, which is the blackening of the foundation system. Generally, giant sections of the foundation techniques can rot utterly. When this occurs, you start to see signs above floor.

It’s possible you’ll discover the plant wilting, producing stunted development and even plant dying.

Root rot tends to be simpler to stop than it’s to deal with. Listed here are a few methods you’ll be able to stop this illness:

  • Get your self on watering schedule. Water simply as soon as each 1-2 weeks.
  • Don’t water if the soil is moist.
  • Plant in a container with drainage holes.

Whether it is too late for prevention, remedy for root rot is feasible. Listed here are a couple of suggestions:

  • Take away your plant from its pot and trim away any rotted roots. Use warning, and don’t neglect to sterilize your shears after you might be completed.
  • Repot in a disinfected container with contemporary succulent potting soil.
  • As soon as that is accomplished, start prevention strategies! Maintain off on fertilizing to permit the plant to acclimate to its new house.
  • Alternatively, a fungicide similar to propiconazole will help to deal with root rot.

Powdery Mildew

A close-up of a leaf covered in powdery mildew, showing a white, fuzzy texture across the surface. The mildew appears like scattered patches, creating a powdery layer on the leaf's otherwise green surface.
This illness is probably not severely damaging, however it will probably look ugly.

In case you are an outside gardener with shady areas in your backyard, you might be doubtless very aware of powdery mildew. Powdery mildew impacts backyard vegetation and is quite common with succulents.

The excellent news about this illness is that it is not going to do a lot harm to the general well being of your plant. The dangerous information is that it will probably trigger your plant to seem unattractive. 

Powdery mildew is presumably one of many best ailments to determine. Your plant will appear to be somebody threw flour at it. All elements of the cactus in addition to the soil, could be lined in white or gray mildew. You may additionally discover some rust-colored spots in your cacti’s leaves.

Powdery mildew thrives in humid, damp, and shady areas of your backyard, in accordance with the College of Rhode Island.

  • Present ample airflow in between vegetation and do your finest to stop any crowding of vegetation.
  • Don’t overwater. It will encourage not solely powdery mildew however many of the aforementioned ailments as nicely.
  • Be certain that your plant is getting some daylight. In case your potted cactus resides outdoor, preserve it out of direct daylight. Simply don’t go away it in a darkish nook, particularly in the summertime months when it’s most humid.

As I discussed, more often than not, this isn’t a deadly illness to your plant.

  • Neem oil is a superb chemical remedy for prevention or remedy after the very fact.
  • Copper fungicide is one other broad-spectrum fungicide that’s helpful in opposition to powdery mildew.

Whichever remedy you select, verify the label for software charges and apply with warning.

Last Ideas

In case your Christmas cactus seems lower than festive this season, stay calm and take a while to diagnose it correctly. Ailments can pop up for a number of causes, largely due to watering or the local weather they’re dwelling in. Generally, the plant you could have bought out of your backyard middle might have already got a illness breeding inside its soil earlier than you even convey it house. Take a more in-depth have a look at the signs and the way you could have cared to your plant. You’ll doubtless be capable of determine and deal with your cactus with ease.

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