Do Christmas Cactus like to be Root bound? (Expert Insights)

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If you’re a plant enthusiast, you may have heard that some plants prefer to be root-bound. But what about Christmas cacti?

Do they thrive when their roots are compressed in a small pot?

Do Christmas Cactus like to be Root Bound

Let’s explore the answer to this common question.

Do Christmas Cactus Like To be Root Bound?

Christmas cacti does prefer to be slightly root-bound, which means they like to have a snug fit in their pot with their roots slightly compressed. This allows for better water retention and encourages blooming.

However, as they get older, they will need more space for their roots to grow. 

When you repot your Christmas cactus, use a pot that is only a few inches larger in diameter than the original pot. If you choose a pot that is too large, your plant may not flower.

How are the roots of the Christmas Cactus?

Christmas cactus has a taproot, which is the part of the plant’s root system that stores water.

When they are young, they can be rootbound, and as they grow older, they will need more space for their roots. If you put them in too small a pot, your Christmas cactus may not flower.

How do you know when to repot a Christmas cactus?

You can tell that your Christmas cactus needs to be repotted when the roots start to wind around the edge of the pot. You might also see a white, fuzzy mold growing on the roots. If you notice these signs, repotting is necessary.

Christmas cactus can grow quite large, so you should repot them when they get about a foot tall. It’s a good idea to repot them annually or every other year. 

If you place your plant in too small of a container, it will simply not be able to continue to grow. You may also want to consider taking cuttings from your plant.

How do you treat a root-bound Christmas Cactus?

If you notice signs of root-bound Christmas Cactus, then you should repot the plant in a larger container. The root system of your Christmas cactus will be able to extend into the new pot without being crowded, which allows them to continue growing.

You need to make sure that your plant has enough water before you repot it, so give it time to adjust to the new environment before putting it under stress.

Do Christmas Cactus have shallow roots?

If your Christmas cactus is rootbound, then you might want to give it a root pruning. Pruning the top of the plant will allow it to develop healthy new roots. You can also repot your Christmas cactus in a larger pot to give the roots more room.

Pros and Cons of a Christmas Cactus being Rootbound

You should check your Christmas cactus monthly to see if it is becoming rootbound. If it is, you have a few options. Christmas Cactus being Rootbound has a few pros and cons.


  • More room for expansion– The Christmas Cactus roots system has more room to expand and more room for healthy development
  • Fully hydrated– Since your Christmas Cactus is rootbound, it is more likely to be dehydrated when you first begin to repot it because there is not enough room for them to absorb water from the surrounding soil.
  • Excellent air circulation around the roots– The air circulation around the Christmas Cactus roots will allow for proper moisture content and nitrification.
  • More flowers– A healthy root system will usually produce more blooms. Therefore, a root-bound Christmas Cactus will likely produce more flowers because it is healthier.


  • Less water flow and more water retention inside the pot– When you have a rootbound plant, less water will flow down into the soil, which causes more water retention that can eventually lead to rot or root rots, or root diseases.
  • The roots grow unnaturally– If you do not correct the problem of your Christmas Cactus being to rootbound, the roots will continue to grow in a cramped and unnatural way, which could cause some of them to die and stick out above ground level when they are later exposed.
  • Fewer flowers– If you do not correct the problem of your Christmas cactus being too rootbound, it will produce fewer flowers.

When should I repot a Christmas cactus?

If your Christmas cactus is rootbound, you should repot it immediately as soon as possible.

The roots will start to grow again more quickly when they are not pressed against the sides of the pot and have more room to expand, and this will also allow the plant to develop healthy new roots.

If your Christmas cactus is not rootbound, you can repot it after taking cuttings. It is not as urgent to repot it, but it will still help the plant thrive.

If you have several plants, they might all be flowering at different times, and taking cuttings from each of them at other times will allow you to stagger your blooming schedule and your repotting schedule.

What kind of pots does Christmas Cactus like?

If you have seen Christmas Cactus in stores, you will notice that they are often sold in terracotta pots, but this is not the best pot for a Christmas cactus. 

Although terracotta pots are aesthetically pleasing, they do not drain as well and do not hold moisture, so it is better to use a container with better drainage. 

Here are some types of suitable tops:

  • Clay Pots
  • Terracotta Pots (moisture drainage is better than plastic pots but still not ideal)
  • Plastic pots with holes in the bottom (better than terracotta or clay pots)
  • Plastic pots with a hole in the bottom and saucer to catch water (best pot for Christmas cactus)

How to Repot a Christmas Cactus? 

You can usually repot your Christmas cactus into a larger container.

This is the best thing to do with some plants, but you may want to repot it in an appropriately sized pot with others.

How to Repot a Christmas Cactus

Here are steps to repot Christmas Cactus:

Step 1: Loosen the pot in two places

First, at the base of the plant (where it meets the soil) and second, at one of the top corners closest to where you want to put it. 

This will allow you to slip a finger between the root ball and the container, and this will loosen it enough to pull it out without tearing it.

Step 2: Gently pull the plant out of the pot

If you are repotting right after taking cuttings, you can simply lift all of the roots by the base and gently slide it out of the pot. 

Do not pull all of them up at once, or they may come off with your Christmas cactus. If you are repotting as part of a more significant task, such as a reorganization, you will need to gently separate each piece and slide it into a new position.

Step 3: Store the plant in the refrigerator overnight

This is to let the roots adjust to the weight of a new container before going into their new home. Fill your new Christmas cactus pot about halfway with soil. The rest should be left empty to use as a saucer for water when you water your plant from a hose or watering bowl.

Step 4: Put the plant and soil back into the container

Gently slide it back into its new pot. Make sure you don’t lose any pieces or ruin your work by having large air pockets. 

Use a spoon to push the soil down around the Christmas cactus roots gently. Add more soil until you reach about an inch above, where the roots begin to emerge from the base of your plant.

Step 5: Water well

Water thoroughly so that the soil is moist but not soggy. Your Christmas cactus will probably drink a lot of water, so be careful not to flood it.

Christmas cactus Repotting risks 

If you are not careful when repotting a Christmas cactus, you could damage it. The most common risks when repotting a Christmas cactus are:

  • Breaking the plant- If you do not loosen the container before removing the plant, then you may tear or break your Christmas cactus. This can happen when pulling out the plant by the base.
  • Overwatering- If too much water is present in your new pot, and this could cause root rot to develop and kill your Christmas Cactus.
  • Having too much or not enough soil in the pot- When you add a new Christmas Cactus to your pot, be sure to add just enough extra soil so that the plant can fit snugly in it. If there is too much soil, it will act as a wick, draw out moisture from the roots, and kill it.
  • Too much or not enough light- If you change the location of your Christmas Cactus, be sure to move it to a spot with about the same amount of light and temperature.

Key Takeaways From Our Editorial Team

Sure, here’s a revised version of the opinion:

“I recommend maintaining a slight root-bound condition for Christmas Cacti to promote better blooming and overall plant health. Regular repotting in a slightly larger pot is essential for their care.”

Adalyn McCall, Co-Founder MrPlanter

Here are the key takeaways:

  1. Christmas cacti do prefer to be slightly root-bound, meaning they like a snug fit in their pot with slightly compressed roots. This helps with water retention and encourages blooming.
  2. It’s essential to repot them when they become too root-bound, typically when their roots start winding around the edge of the pot or when you see mold on the roots.
  3. When repotting, choose a pot that is only slightly larger in diameter than the original pot to avoid hindering their flowering.

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