A flowering Christmas Cactus can no doubt add a special spark to your holiday atmosphere at home. In order to enjoy the beauty of this cactus, however, and to make sure it won’t die before the holiday ends, you have to select the right pot. For many people this means only one thing–the material of the pot. Should you opt for wood, plastic, clay, or even metal? However, expert growers know that there’s much more you should consider--size of the pot, color, design, drainage, and so on. If you aim for perfection, when it comes to both the health of your cactus and the interior design of your home, you will definitely consider all of the variables in question.
Before we dive into details, let me clarify something: The most important thing when it comes to the best pot for a Christmas Cactus is that you buy a pot with a drainage hole. Over-watering is responsible for 90% of cases when a Christmas Cactus dies, and having a pot without a drainage hole, you are asking for troubles. I just wanted to point this out, because at the end of the day, no matter how beautiful or fitting the pot it is, if the cactus struggles (or dies), the pot plays little significance…
Clay is the best material but not your only choice
When we look back centuries ago, almost all pots were from clay. And while planters from clay certainly have some weaknesses–they are heavy and fragile, they still remain the best choice for Christmas Cactus and other succulents. They provide great aeration to the roots of the plant, clay does not hold moisture, does not get too hot in a scorching summer sun, and at the end of the day it is a natural material.
Having said that, I understand why you may not like clay. Plastic pots are cheaper and lighter, and easier to manipulate with. Plastic is not great for either humans or plants, but you can certainly have a thriving cactus in a plastic pot, as long as you care for it properly. Metal pots aren’t recommended for Christmas cactus though. Wooden and glass containers are fine, the only problem is that glass pots typically come without a drainage hole, and hence they aren’t the best fit for a Christmas cactus.
Right size and depth of a pot for a Christmas cactus
Christmas cactus does not like a pot that’s way too bigger than the plant and its root ball. When you buy a Cactus in a shop, it typically comes in small plastic pot that’s just about as big as the root ball of the plant. Sellers want to save money, so logically they sell the plants in the smallest pots possible, and from plastic which is the cheapest material. Such a pot isn’t a good fit for the cactus and you should repot it immediately. But do not go with a very big pot. In fact, the ideal pot should be just 1/4 of an inch or 1/3 of an inch wider in diameter than the root ball of the plant. You will be fine with 1/2 inch, but that’s about the upper limit.
Deep pots make for nice design combinations at home, but Christmas cactus does not really prefer to live in a deep pot. What happens often is that soil at the bottom of such a pot retains too much moisture, which can cause root rot and subsequent problems in the Christmas cactus. Opt for a shallow pot instead. In an ideal case there shouldn’t be more than an inch distance between the roots and the bottom of the pot. Ideally less but again I want to give you an upper limit so you have more room to play when it comes to the design of the pot :).
Opt for neutral colors of the pot to let your Christmas Cactus stand out and shine
The flowers of Christmas Cactus are incredibly beautiful and will easily catch the eye of every visitor of your house. With this plant your intention isn’t to draw attention to the color or design of the pot. The intention is to draw attention to the cactus, and especially the flowers. Hence I suggest you to go with black, white, or natural clay colors when choosing the new pot for your Christmas cactus.
If you are a design and Feng Shui freak, or simply look for something special, you can try to buy a pot in the color of the flowers of the Christmas cactus. Just imagine the spectacle–a flowering cactus perfectly matching the color of the pot. That’s something a visitor of your house will hardly overlook. Of course, you should also consider other pots in the room. In Feng Shui, we always try to achieve balance and harmony of colors. It doesn’t make too much sense combining black, yellow, and green pots for example, for different house plants you grow in the same room. Try to buy a pot that fits well into the existing setup.
Pot with a drainage hole is a must if you want to avoid problems with your Christmas Cactus
Christmas cactus is prone to over-watering. In order to minimize the chances of drowning your Schlumberga in water, you should always grow it in a pot with a drainage hole. I cannot stress the importance of this enough, but I have also some good news for you.
If you really love a certain design of a pot, but it lacks a drainage hole, you can still buy it. Just before you plant your Christmas cactus inside, make sure to drill a hole in a pot, with a help of an electric driller (for plastic, wood, or metal pots) or mechanical driller (for more fragile materials such as clay or terracotta, or glass). You should also buy a fitting saucer (often it does not come with the pot), and make sure you empty it after every watering of your Christmas cactus.
Searching for the best pot for your Christmas cactus, you should consider several factors: material, width and depth, color and design, drainage. It is also important to think about the pots you already have at home, and chose a pot that will fit well into the existing setup. I hope this helps, and wish you good luck with your choice :).
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