Christmas cactus, also known as Schlumbergera, is a popular houseplant. It is popular for all good reasons like it’s easy to grow and has beautiful flowers blooming in the holiday season. It’s not surprising why the plant is called ‘Christmas Cactus’.
Being from the desert family, it is one of the easiest plants to grow at home. However, it is not exactly similar to desert cactus, so it requires a little more attention to survive well.
You can’t just plant it and forget. Neglecting the plant will hinder its growth and make it lifeless, which you surely don’t want.
If your Christmas cactus has turned purple, it’s a red sign, and you need to fix it early. The sooner you notice and give attention to the cactus, the faster it will revive.
Let’s get started!
Why is my Christmas cactus turning purple?
Plants do not communicate like humans but communicate by giving indications. Discoloration, falling leaves, yellow leaves, weak stems, and damaged edges are some signals that something isn’t right with your cactus. You need to find the reason behind the problems and quickly fix them. Here are some possible factors causing your Christmas cactus to turn purple.
1. Nutritional issues
You need nutrients to make your body work and live well, and so does your Christmas cactus! It, just like humans, can catch diseases or even die due to a lack of nutritional deficiency.
When it does not get one or more essential nutrients for a longer period, it starts getting a purple tint. Magnesium, phosphorus, and nitrogen are some of the most required macronutrients for the cactus.
The deficiency may occur due to poor-quality potting soil, damaged roots, pests, bugs, accidental damage, and more.
2. Crowded roots
Christmas cactus needs dense soil to grow well, but the soil should not be too dense. Extremely tight soil makes the roots crowded and restricts them from absorbing moisture.
Additionally, the roots can’t breathe and absorb nutrients from the air. This will make the foliage nutrition-deprived, and it turns purple.
Christmas cacti grow their fullest in shaded regions of rainforests. House plants need an environment that mimics the cactus plant’s natural habitat. You can provide such an environment by placing the cactus in not-too-harsh light.
The succulent feel pampered under direct sunlight during the fall and winter seasons. However, keeping it in the same place in summer will make it scorched. Direct sunlight in the summer months is too much for Christmas cactus.
This can make it sunburnt. The plant leaves react with UV rays and produce phenolic compounds, anthocyanins. These compounds dominate the green pigment of the leaves with their purple hue.
Some people grow the cactus indoors near artificial lights. These lights sometimes fail to provide sufficient light and heat to the plant, causing discoloration.
4. Temperature Fluctuations
You know that too much light affects the Christmas cactus. In the same way, extreme temperatures also harm the plant and force it to discolor. It cannot survive in extreme hot and cold temperatures.
If it remains in extreme temperatures for an extended period, it tries to protect itself and survive best. The discoloration of plants is the response to harsh temperatures.
5. Christmas Cactus Got Stressed
Several factors can make your Christmas cactus stressed. A stressed cactus will turn purple, and you can’t stop the discoloration process without working on the factor first.
If your cactus is appearing stressed, it can be due to underwatering, overwatering, clogged roots, rotten roots, poor soil, uncomfortable temperature, and overheating.
How do you Revive a Purple Christmas cactus?
No one likes a purple Christmas cactus but a green one with pink blooming flowers. If your Schlumbergera has been unattended for a long time, it’s normal for it to turn purple.
Fortunately, it has a high chance of reviving again and turning green and fresh. Follow these tips to revive a purple Christmas cactus.
- Touch the soil of the pot and check if it’s dry. When the first few inches feel dry, water the soil properly until water drops come out from the bottom holes. Then remove water from the bottom of the pot to avoid over-moisture.
- If the soil appears so crunchy that even water cannot fix it, repot the plant into a fresh pot mix.
- Choose good soil while repotting the Christmas Cactus. The potting mix should be well draining and a mixture of organic and inorganic material. Don’t forget to check the pH level of the soil.
- Take extra care while repotting the Christmas cactus, or you may hurt the roots. Use a small spoon to dig the soil, and be gentle.
- Keep your Christmas cactus several inches away from the window in summer. You can also place it near a north or east-facing window where the light is not direct.
- Your succulent should maintain a proper cycle of brightness and darkness during the dormancy period. Make sure it remains in the dark for at least 12 hours every day.
- Don’t keep it in an extreme temperature zone. The best-recommended temperature range is 70-80 degrees Fahrenheit in the daytime while 60-65 degrees Fahrenheit at night. Avoid keeping it near heat registers and exit doors.
- Christmas cactus requires more magnesium as compared to regular plants. Apply one tablespoon of Epsom salt to one gallon of water to supply magnesium. Keep putting fertilizer in the plant to avoid nutritional deficiencies.
To learn more about using Epsom salt for your Christmas cactus, see our article on Epsom salt.
Will a purple Christmas cactus turn green again?
Christmas cactus is a trouble-free succulent that knows best to survive. If you help it to meet its requirements, it will not only turn green again but also bloom. Check the moisture level, humidity, soil quality, temperature, and light.
Ensure that nothing should be too much or too less for the plant. In case your succulent has been in the same pot for 1-2 years, repot in a larger pot.
Are Christmas Cactus supposed to be purple?
Christmas cactus with green leaves and colorful flowers(in the blooming season) is healthy. Some factors can make it change in color.
If the leaves are getting a purple tint in a few areas, there’s nothing much to worry about.
However, dark purple foliage is not a good sign, and it means the plant requires immediate attention.
Let’s conclude the post!
As we discussed here, the primary reasons for your Christmas Cactus turning purple are:
- Nutritional issues
- Crowded roots
- Temperature Fluctuations
- Christmas Cactus Got Stressed.
Also, we discussed how you can repot Christmas Cactus and fix this issue.
I hope you liked reading the post and found it useful in fixing your Christmas Cactus.
Anirban Saha is an Engineer with a specialization in Electronics and Communication. He is the Founder and Editor of mrplanter.com and also techbullish.com. Anirban loves plants and pursue gardening as a hobby for more than 10 years.