Christmas cactus are not desert plants. Unlike other cactus, they are tropical plants that don’t exist in the wild.
They perform well in different lighting arrangements but with some conditions. Let’s know more about how much light they need and much more.
Christmas cacti need 6-8 hours of indirect light to thrive. Although they can adjust to low lighting conditions, the growth rate will slow down when lighting is poor, so this needs to be supplemented with artificial light sources to keep the plant thriving.
Christmas cactus are light lovers, but direct light can burn their leaves.
You can try different lighting arrangements or locations for them and decide the best-suited one.
We will discuss all their light needs and requirements. By the end of this article, you will know where you want to keep your Christmas cactus.
There are no limitations but following some facts and, let’s say, warnings will only save you and your plant from harassment.
Let us read till the end to find the right spot for your Christmas cactus:
Importance of light for Christmas cactus
Light is a crucial source of energy, critical to the growth of all living beings. Plants also need enough and the right lighting to flourish.
They are naturally supposed to grow outdoors, which mankind has modified by bringing them indoors.
This has limited their growing conditions, but they still need some factors in check to grow properly.
They need light to photosynthesize, produce chlorophyll, flowers, food, and to carry out major and minor functions within.
To get your Christmas cactus to bloom, you need to provide them with sufficient light and temperature. Otherwise, you might miss those beautiful flowers.
Lack of light can inhibit the manufacturing of carbohydrates, the energy leaves deplete, and the plant may die. The plant will not function efficiently, couldn’t bloom, drop leaves, stunt growth, etc.
What type of light does a Christmas cactus need?
Christmas cactus are tropical plants, so they appreciate plenty of light, but indirect bright light.
Direct light can damage their leaves, cause sunburn, etc. The leaf segments may turn red as a result of sunburn.
Low light is also not enough for the Christmas cactus. It can inhibit its growth and affect its blooming and entire growth and development.
They also appreciate the artificial light source, which can compensate for natural light, as long as it is sufficient for the plant.
They like indirect light, and lack of the same may lead to dull stems and leaves, droopy and wilting leaves, etc. If your plant seems dull or shows such signs, you need to move them to a brightly lit spot.
Direct light vs. Indirect light
Direct and indirect light are two terms you will listen to or read the most when learning about the light needs of any plant.
The different types of light, but that is not all, because the amount and intensity of the same can be different in different areas.
To give you a brief about both types of light, the light your plant gets outdoors, which is direct and unfiltered, is direct.
If the plant casts a clear shadow of the plant, then the plant is receiving direct light.
When the plant is filtered light, either by a shade or curtain, it is indirect light. Such light doesn’t fall directly on the foliage, and some parts of the plant may not receive light at all.
Christmas cactus appreciate indirect bright light, and they cannot tolerate a lot of direct light.
This calls for finding the right spot for your Christmas cactus to receive enough light.
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Can Christmas cactus survive without sunlight?
Christmas cactus may do fine in low light but will not flower. They do not like direct light because I will directly burn the leaves and gradually damage the entire plant.
However, low light will prevent flowering and may not cause direct harm to the leaves but will lead to issues within the plant, such as diseases and root rot.
Christmas cactus need light for photosynthesis, accelerate flower development, create strong stems, increase chlorophyll content, etc.
This means they may have to compromise many things if they receive low light, though they might not die and just survive. Bright and uniform light facilitates their growth and hardiness.
Best spot for Christmas cactus
Choosing the right spot for your Christmas cactus’s light requirement is real as they need proper light to grow and thrive.
East-facing and west-facing windows are great options for your Christmas cactus, but make sure to keep them out of direct light.
You can also place them in other window directions at a safer distance or use a sheer curtain to diffuse the direct light.
You can keep them near your balcony where it can get 6-8 hours of indirect light. No matter which window you choose until the plant receives at least 6 hours of indirect light.
Keeping them on a windowsill with a lot of direct light, mostly the afternoon harsh light, will harm your Christmas cactus.
Don’t complicate by searching for different spots; just observe the spot with enough indirect bright light and no or very less direct light. You can place your plant in such a spot without much thought.
Make sure you move your Christmas cactus to a spot away from cold drafts during winters and away from the window.
Is Christmas cactus getting enough light?
Christmas cactus may adapt to low light but only thrive in brighter light. In low light, the plant will not be as strong as it should be and may not bloom readily.
Every plant will show signs of stress in some way or another when exposed to unfavorable conditions.
You should initially identify these signs to prevent them from sinking to death. Some of the signs are:
- Slow growth
- Root rot
- Fungal growth
- Droopy leaves
- Plumpy stems
Due to lack of light, the plant uses up its nutrients stored and becomes weak. They grow slowly and use less water, resulting in flowerless Christmas cacti that might soon die.
Droopiness is a prime sign of low light. If you notice it, immediately check the light the plant is receiving. If the light availability is insufficient as per their need, look for a better and brighter spot.
If you keep them in the proper light, they will again bounce back with healthy stems and grow faster.
Is my Christmas cactus getting too much sun?
The Christmas cactus kept under too much light, direct sun, or long hours of the direct sun may react adversely.
Especially the outer foliage of the plant will be affected the most. Let’s see what are the signs to confirm if they are getting too much sun:
- Sunburnt leaves
- Yellow and brown leaves
- Dark reddish stems
- Scorched leaf
- Dry soil
These signs call for different spots, less sunny and indirect. You need to either move them to another spot where there is no direct light or use a sheer curtain or blinds to diffuse the intensity of the light.
Please do not mistake these signs for overwatering as some of them are the same for both; it could be due to harsh light.
Take some time to observe the plant conditions and, after moving them, to see how they react.
Please get rid of the damaged parts by clipping them. It will support the plant’s growth hormones.
You can experiment with different spots but do not move them to different lighting frequently; it can shock them.
Can Christmas cactus grow in low light?
It is wrong to say that your Christmas cactus will not grow in low light, but the growth will surely slow down.
We are not saying to move them outdoors if you lack natural light indoors, but we would suggest finding a better lit spot in your home for them.
They like humidity, so you can even place them in bathrooms, even at an office desk with some light. They will do good, and the only problem would be their growth rate and blooming.
Also, it would be best if you kept rotating your Christmas cactus every few weeks for even distribution of light.
If, by choice, you have kept your Christmas cactus in low light, then move them to a better lit space for a week once every month.
We suggest you keep them in bright light if you want to enjoy its beautiful flowers and healthier plants.
What if my room has no windows?
It becomes almost impossible to grow houseplants without natural light, especially for newbies.
But if you look around to plant parents, you might see many houseplants growing without natural light.
So there is a plan which can help you grow your Christmas cactus even if you don’t have windows in your room.
No windows mean no natural light, yes, it is quite hard to keep up your plant, but we have a solution, “Growlight.” Yes, Grow lights are excellent artificial sources of light.
We recommend Spider Farmer SF300 LED grow light. By featuring a high-quality LED array that emits a balanced blend of blue, red, and white light, this compact and efficient grow light provides plants with the ideal spectrum of light needed for photosynthesis throughout all stages of their growth cycle.
LED and fluorescent bulbs are the most common types of light, but you may look for incandescent and high-pressure sodium bulbs.
They supplement natural light with pros and cons but will do the work. Take time to understand what kind of light your plant needs and choose accordingly or buy the one we suggested.
How many hours of sunlight do Christmas cactus need?
Christmas cacti need at least 6 hours of light in a day. The more, the better it is for your Christmas cactus. They will never complain about too much light if it is indirect.
Once acclimated, they will adjust to different light settings, intensities, and amounts.
If direct light is coming from a window, keep the plant at a sufficient distance to save them from heat.
Christmas cactus are cacti but have needs similar to succulents. They are versatile and flexible to different light conditions.
They cannot tolerate long hours of direct light and will be happier without any direct light and ample indirect light.
When it comes to light intensity, then you should avoid both extremes.
Both low and direct sun will affect their growth and development adversely.
Direct light can cause sunburn, and too little light will limit their overall growth, cause droopiness, etc.
Balancing both types of light is the main thing you need to learn for your Christmas cactus.
You can always supplement natural light by using, preferably when natural light is unavailable or insufficient. Growing lights work great for them.
Along with the right light, maintain high temperature and humidity around them and give them a drink when needed. This will keep them happy and in optimal health.
Reference: NC State University, Nebraska Extension in Lancaster County, Researchgate, Texas A&M University, Chicago Botanic Garden.