5 Best Christmas Cactus Fertilizers | How And When To Use

The Christmas cactus, or Schlumbergera bridgesii, is most famous for producing flowers during the winter holidays. But did you know that Christmas cacti are just one type of holiday cactus? 

Many plants sold today as Christmas cacti are actually Schlumbergera truncata — also known as the Thanksgiving cactus. The Easter cactus, or Schlumbergera gaertneri, is another popular member of the same genus. Unsurprisingly, the names of these cacti correspond with the times of the year they usually bloom in the Northern Hemisphere.

Whether you purchased one of these plants for yourself or received it as a gift, getting a Christmas cactus to flower each year requires good plant husbandry and a healthy level of the right nutrients. 

While many people know that they need a certain amount of light to produce buds, a shocking number overlook the importance of good nutrition throughout the growing season. And that’s why high-quality Christmas cactus fertilizer is one of the best investments you can make for this unique houseplant.

The Best Christmas Cactus Fertilizers

If you’re in a hurry to make a purchase and need to feed your Christmas Cactus fast, then here are my top two recommendations. Alternatively, to find out more about fertilizing Christmas Cactus, including when, why, how, and how much, then be sure to read the article through to the end.

miracle grow plant food_new small

Best Ready to Use Fertilizer

Miracle-Gro Indoor Plant Food 0.5-1-1

Ready to use fertilizer, simply pump directly onto the soil or dilute it with water

Grow More Cactus & Soil Fertilizer 1-7-6

Best Fertilizer Concentrate

Grow More Cactus & Soil Fertilizer 1-7-6

Convenient water-while-you-feed liquid fertilizer that supports healthy roots and flower development

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Choosing Fertilizer For Christmas Cactus 

For Christmas cacti, nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and magnesium are the most important nutrients. The tricky part is ensuring your cactus has access to everything it needs without applying too much fertilizer at one time.

I recommend opting for a slow-release formula or diluting an appropriate liquid fertilizer in the water. Slow-release fertilizers work well because they don’t deliver all their nutrients right away. Instead, they provide a slow trickle of nutrition that won’t overwhelm the plant. 

Whilst diluting a liquid fertilizer will create an extra “buffer” between the nutrient molecules and your plant’s roots.

Granular Vs Liquid Fertilizer

With Christmas cacti, it’s possible to see good results from any type of fertilizer.

Granules and spikes (or capsules) are the most popular forms of slow-release fertilizer. They are specifically designed to release nutrients over the course of several weeks. Meanwhile, liquid fertilizers tend to deliver instant nutrition that must be replenished on a consistent schedule.

Liquid Concentrate

Despite my personal preference for slow-release granular fertilizer in most cases, I’ll admit that there are plenty of benefits to using a liquid concentrate on your Christmas cactus. For example, liquid concentrates tend to be economical, less messy, and easier to store than traditional granules.

When feeding any cactus with liquid fertilizer, dilution is the key to success. Mixing your chosen concentrate in a large amount of water will reduce the risk of fertilizer burn and salt build-up over time.

If you need to address a nutrient deficiency in your Christmas cactus, I recommend using a liquid fertilizer. You’ll see much faster results and have an easier time measuring out an exact dose versus other options.

Slow-Release Granules

Slow-release granules are a great option for any potted cactus that could use an extra boost of nutrition. Because they stick around in the soil for a long time, you can easily go a month or more between feedings without any ill effects.

The biggest downside to this type of fertilizer is that it’s very easy to overfeed your Christmas cactus. Be sure to follow the dosage guidelines provided with your chosen fertilizer and water thoroughly after each application.

Also, granular fertilizers tend to be cost-effective only when bought in bulk. If you have only one or two Christmas cacti in need of feeding, purchasing a large bag of fertilizer might be unrealistic.

Fertilizer Spikes

Fertilizer spikes and capsules are very similar to slow-release granules. Instead of being spread evenly on the soil’s surface, however, they’re designed to be pressed into the soil around the plant. 

Most people feed with fertilizer spikes because of the sheer convenience. They’re easy to store and don’t require any measuring or mixing. Plus, most formulas feed for several weeks at a time.

This type of fertilizer is also a great option if you have pets in the home. Spikes and capsules are less likely to attract animals and pests than traditional liquid or granular fertilizers.

Soil pH And Nutrients

The soil pH level indicates how alkaline or acidic your cactus’s growing environment is. A pH reading of 7 is perfectly neutral. Readings above 7.0 are alkaline. Those below 7.0 are acidic.

Christmas cacti grow best in somewhat acidic soil with a pH between 5.5 and 6.2. Most potting mixes sold for cacti feature this pH level. If desired, you can always test your soil’s pH fairly easily at home with a soil test kit.

If your cactus is planted in soil with an incorrect pH level, there’s a good chance you’ll see symptoms of nutrient deficiencies. This is because soil pH directly affects how well plant roots can absorb certain nutrients. For Christmas cacti specifically, magnesium (which is most easily absorbed in alkaline soil) is often deficient due in part to soil pH.

Christmas Cactus Fertilizer N-P-K Ratio

All plants rely on macronutrients — i.e., nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium — to grow and survive. Without access to these three key nutrients, your Christmas cactus will not be long for this world.

Store-bought fertilizers advertise how much of each macronutrient they contain via something called an N-P-K ratio. This is a sequence of numbers that, in order, represent the percentage of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium contained inside.

For example, a fertilizer labeled 10-10-10 contains 10% each of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Meanwhile, a 20-5-15 formula has 20% nitrogen, 5% phosphorus, and 15% potassium.

When choosing a Christmas cactus fertilizer, pay attention to the total amount of each nutrient plus how balanced they are. A balanced formula will have an N-P-K ratio with numbers that are identical (or nearly so) to each other.

Best Fertilizer For Christmas Cactus Reviews

When it comes to fertilizing Christmas cacti, less is almost always more. So I think it’s super important to make sure you’re using a formula that meets your cactus’ needs as efficiently as possible.

Cacti and succulent fertilizers are frequently some of the best options out there. However, that still leaves you with dozens (if not more) of formulas to choose from. 

After some research, here are the fertilizers I’d be happy to use on my own Christmas cactus and recommend you try out on yours: 


  • Packaged in a convenient pump bottle
  • Designed for use on succulents and cacti
  • Easy to dilute in water


  • Not a slow-release formula

Since cacti are a type of succulent, it’s safe to say that most formulas designed for these plants will work well on your Christmas cactus. One of the most popular succulent fertilizers available is this liquid plant food from Miracle-Gro.

I like Miracle-Gro because, as a brand, it’s extremely accessible to all types of gardeners. Plus, it’s relatively affordable no matter where you’re based.

The N-P-K ratio of this fertilizer will promote healthy bud and flower development with little risk of overfeeding. However, I still recommend diluting this formula in a watering can before applying it to your Christmas cactus.

How To Use: Apply 1 pump of fertilizer to the soil of your Christmas cactus and water thoroughly. Or, to reduce the risk of fertilizer burn, mix 1 pump of fertilizer in a watering can before applying it to the soil.


  • Supports growth without excess nitrogen
  • Extremely cost-effective


  • Not a source of magnesium

While it’s true that a balanced fertilizer is ideal for most applications, there are times when Christmas cacti respond best to a low-nitrogen formula. Grow More Cactus Juice is one of my top choices for such cases.

If your cactus is content in its current potting soil, adding a bit of this fertilizer is a great way to promote flower production at the end of the summer without overfeeding. You can also use this fertilizer throughout the entire growing season, I just recommend keeping an eye out for signs of nitrogen deficiency.

This liquid concentrate contains 1% calcium but lacks any other micronutrients. Consider supplementing with a magnesium source as needed.

How To Use: Dilute at a rate of 1 teaspoon of fertilizer per gallon of water. Saturate the soil around your Christmas cactus with the mixture up to every 2 weeks.


  • Provides a low dose of nitrogen
  • Built-in dropper for easy measuring
  • Fortified with several micronutrients


  • Must be re-applied often

Schultz offers another great low-nitrogen option that is specifically formulated for cacti. It works similarly to the Grow More fertilizer above but with twice the amount of nitrogen overall.

Personally, I like the extra dose of nitrogen offered by this liquid concentrate. It ensures that your cacti get all of the nutrients they need without much risk of overfeeding. This fertilizer also contains several micronutrients which can help stave off minor deficiencies.

Another great thing about this fertilizer is that it comes with a built-in dropper. I really can’t complain about packaging that takes the guesswork out of measuring!

How To Use: Mix up to 7 drops of fertilizer per quart of water. Saturate the soil around your cactus thoroughly. 


  • Certified for organic production by OMRI
  • Sold in an easy-to-use pump bottle
  • Safe for a variety of plants


  • It May have a strong odor
  • Does not include micronutrients

Dr. Earth Pure Gold is yet another pumpable liquid concentrate that I find works well on Christmas cacti. 

If you’re just getting started on your gardening journey, I definitely recommend trying out this formula. It features a balanced, low-concentration nutrient profile and can be used on all types of potted plants. It does not, however, contain any micronutrients.

For the best results, I suggest adding this concentrate to a watering can versus pumping it directly onto the soil. But the risk of fertilizer burn is low with either method.

How To Use: Mix up to 8 pumps of fertilizer per gallon of water. Saturate your Christmas cactus soil with the mixture up to once per week.


  • Won’t attract insects or pets
  • Feeds for up to 3 weeks
  • Designed for the needs of cacti and succulents


  • Doesn’t evenly distribute nutrients in the soil

EarthPods are my favorite fertilizer capsules for use on potted plants. For Christmas cacti, I recommend reaching for the brand’s cactus and succulent formula.

Each capsule features a slow-release granular fertilizer stored in a dissolvable casing. When you water your cactus, the capsule breaks down and delivers nutrients straight to the root system.

EarthPods are great because you don’t need to measure anything and a single package goes a very long way. In my opinion, this is by far the most convenient way to keep a Christmas cactus happy and well-fed throughout the year.

How To Use: Depending on the size of your cactus, press 1 or 2 capsules into the soil. Avoid placing capsules directly next to the cactus’ base. Water regularly releases nutrients into the soil.

How To Fertilize Christmas Cactus Step-By-Step

Fertilizing a Christmas cactus is not very hard. But since the wrong amount or type of fertilizer can interfere with winter flowering, it’s important to know exactly what you’re doing before you start.

Unless you are using a formula specifically designed for Christmas cacti, I recommend dividing all applications by half. For water-soluble fertilizers, use the same amount of water but half as much fertilizer as the label suggests.

Always water thoroughly when feeding Christmas cacti. For dry fertilizers, water immediately after applying granules or capsules into the soil. Liquid fertilizers should be applied to already damp soil or diluted in water before applying.

To prevent or remove salt build-up from fertilizer, occasionally flush the soil of your Christmas cactus using clean water. I like to do this by placing the cactus in a bathtub or sink. Water until the soil is fully saturated and water flows from the container’s drainage holes.

For extra magnesium, you can dilute a supplement (such as Epsom salt) at a rate of 1 teaspoon per gallon of water. Apply to the soil of your Christmas cactus just as you would any other liquid fertilizer. Magnesium may be supplemented monthly but should not be applied at the same time as other fertilizers.

When To Fertilize Christmas Cactus

Start fertilizing your Christmas cactus in late winter or spring after it has completely finished blooming. This is when its active growth season begins. Continue applying fertilizer on a regular schedule until mid or late summer, just before a new set of flower buds emerge. Do not fertilize your cactus during the fall or early winter — or while it buds out and blooms — as it’s not actively growing at this time.

How Often To Fertilize

To prevent overfeeding, fertilize your Christmas cactus only during the growing season and according to the manufacturer’s recommendations that you’ll find on the back of the packaging. 

If needed, you can apply a magnesium supplement on a monthly basis as well. However, these applications shouldn’t happen at the same time. I recommend staggering them by at least a week so as not to overwhelm your cactus.

Should I fertilize My Christmas Cactus When It Is Blooming?

Christmas cactus flowers are the main attraction of this plant, and adequate nutrition is needed to support bud production. But fertilizing at the wrong time can interfere with blooming. 

You should not feed Christmas cacti when they are actively budding out or blooming. Christmas cacti start creating flower buds in the fall. Halting fertilizer applications in late summer will ensure your plant has plenty of time to prepare for its wintertime display.

Verdict: Best Christmas Cactus Fertilizers

Few things are as rewarding as watching your Christmas cactus finally bloom. If you want to see new flowers emerge year after year, however, fertilizing during the spring and summer is an absolute must!

Feeding a Christmas cactus doesn’t need to be complicated. Miracle-Gro Succulent Plant Food 0.5-1-1 is my favorite no-frills formula that you can find almost anywhere. 

miracle grow plant food_new small

Best Ready to Use Fertilizer

Miracle-Gro Indoor Plant Food 0.5-1-1

Ready to use fertilizer, simply pump directly onto the soil or dilute it with water

For a more concentrated fertilizer that is sure to encourage bud production, I recommend trying out Schultz Cactus Plus Liquid Plant Food 2-7-7. It’s very easy to use and is unlikely to cause fertilizer burn.

Grow More Cactus & Soil Fertilizer 1-7-6

Best Fertilizer Concentrate

Grow More Cactus & Soil Fertilizer 1-7-6

Convenient water-while-you-feed liquid fertilizer that supports healthy roots and flower development

FAQs Fertilizing Christmas Cactus