Should I Water My Christmas Cactus from the Top or Bottom?

watering christmas cactus

A Christmas Cactus is the perfect indoor plant–it’s beautiful, low maintenance, and adds color to wintertime. These plants don’t need a lot of water. However, what’s the best way to water a Christmas cactus?

You should water a Christmas Cactus from the base of the plant, directly into the soil. The roots need to get the water and distribute it to the rest of the cactus. You can also mist the leaves if you want to make sure they are properly hydrated, but it’s not strictly necessary. 

How to Water a Christmas Cactus

A vital key to keeping a Christmas Cactus alive and healthy is to not overwater it. While Christmas Cacti need more water than their desert counterparts, it’s still very easy to overwater. An overwatered cactus will have soft and limp leaves and branches and will eventually die.

While it’s very hard to save an overwatered cactus, it’s easy to prevent this by keeping the cactus watered properly. If you keep track of watering times and water properly, your cactus should last several years. Water from the top of the cactus, using these simple steps.

Make Sure the Soil is Dry

To avoid over-watering your cactus, make sure that the top third of the soil is completely dry before adding more water. Even if the top looks dry, you should push your finger underneath the soil to double-check.

The dirt should be pretty dry on top and for a few inches, but not to the bottom. Once you’ve decided that the top third of the soil is dry (this is usually two to three inches of soil in a regular-sized pot), you can start to water the dirt.

Water the Soil

Water the Christmas Cactus from the bottom so the water can get down to the plant’s roots. Keep pouring water into the soil until water is dripping through the holes in the bottom of the pot. This soaks the soil.

Once the soil is completely soaked, make sure that there’s no standing water underneath the pot. Always dump the extra water–you don’t want insects laying eggs, root rot, or mold forming in the bottom of the planter. Water in a tray underneath the pot is fine as long as the water is completely separated from the pot.

Mist the Leaves

To ensure that the leaves are as healthy as possible, you can mist the leaves with water in a spray bottle. Don’t drench the leaves – especially if you’re watering the plant a quick mist will be perfect for proper hydration.

How to Maintain Humidity for a Christmas Cactus

A way to “water from the bottom” for a Christmas Cactus is to make an environment where humidity naturally surrounds the plant. You can do this by planting the cactus in a pot with a tray underneath. Many planters come with lids that you can flip over and use as natural humidifiers for your plants. See our guide on DIY Christmas Cactus Humidifiers

To make a naturally humid environment, fill the tray with pebbles and pour water over them. Leave this under the pot, making sure the water isn’t touching the soil or the pot. If the water and dirt are separated, you will have a great source of extra humidity for your plant.

As the water evaporates through the soil and around your plant, it will keep the soil moist for longer and provide natural humidity. Because Christmas Cacti are from naturally humid areas, they will thrive in a greenhouse-like environment, whether that’s the natural summer humidity or pebbles and water underneath your pot.

You can use under-the-pot hydration if you’re going to be gone and won’t be able to water your plant as regularly. However, this system is not a substitute for watering–it only prolongs the need for water by a few days. Once the soil is dry, you will have to water your cactus to keep it alive and healthy.

Final Thoughts

It would be best to water your Christmas Cactus from the base so that the water can soak down into the soil and fully hydrate the roots. With proper watering and care, your cactus can last several years and brighten up every holiday season!