Why does my Christmas cactus have wrinkled leaves

Why does my Christmas cactus have wrinkled leaves

The Christmas cactus is one of the usual plants in December since it is related to the Christmas season, the holidays and the decoration of homes and gardens. However, surely from time to time you have seen how the leaves of this one were wrinkled and you have asked yourself: "Why does my Christmas cactus have wrinkled leaves".

If you are not sure why, then we are going to discuss with you the reasons why it can occur and also the solutions you can consider to recover it. Because yes, unless it is in a very advanced state, it can be recovered. Find out how.

Christmas cactus: the two species that are sold

Christmas cactus: the two species that are sold

First of all, we want to talk to you about the Christmas cactus since there are two different plants sold as such without becoming, at least one of them.

The two floors are:

  • Schlumbergera x buckleyi, which is the true Christmas cactus, and a plant that is very easy to grow and care for.
  • S. truncata, which is related, but it's not really considered a Christmas cactus but a Thanksgiving cactus. It is seasonal and can be a bit more difficult to care for.

Why are both sold as if they were oneself? Because they are very similar to each other since they bloom in November and December (although some also repeat the flowering in February and March).

We cannot say that one is better than the other, since they are very similar to each other, and sometimes it is difficult to distinguish between them in stores. So you should not worry. But if you really want the "original", you have to go for the first one.

The reasons why my Christmas cactus has wrinkled leaves

The reasons why my Christmas cactus has wrinkled leaves

Now, let's see what are the reasons why a Christmas cactus can have wrinkled leaves. But first of all, you have to know that what we call leaves are actually the stems of the plant. In adult specimens, they do not have leaves, but what we see and identify as such are actually the stems and these can become thin, wrinkled, change color, etc.

The fact that they wrinkle can come due to various situations. We will tell you about the most common ones.


We start with the most common problem of all plant diseases. And in this case not only the Christmas cactus suffers when there is an excess of water. Also when there is a lack of it.

You must start from the basis that this plant is actually a succulent and these have the characteristics of storing water inside, in this case in the stems. Therefore, when these are wrinkled, it may be due to a lack of water, because they appear straight, deflated, etc. And it would be solved with an increase in irrigation.

But it can also happen that these symptoms are not from a lack of irrigation, but from an excess that has rotted the roots and that, therefore, the plant suffers.

How to distinguish it? Well, through the tips of the "leaves" / stems. If you see that they are blackened or look rotten, you are watering too much. Another way is to touch the ground; if it is too wet to the touch, the same will happen.

The solution is through:

  • If it is dry, increase the number of times it is watered.
  • If it is drowned, it can be good, if the soil is very wet, to change it for a dry one and allow time for the plant to absorb the excess water.

Another aspect related to irrigation is the type of water you use. And, sometimes, substances in tap water can be to blame for this wrinkling. That is why it is better to use rainwater or natural water.

Too much sun

Another reason why Christmas cacti tend to have wrinkled leaves is due to too much sun. This normally does not happen in winter, but it does in spring and summer, when are exposed for too many hours and it affects the accumulations of water that the plant has, causing its stems to dehydrate and wrinkle.

Therefore, at that time of year it is better to have it in semi-shade, or even in full shade if you live in a warm country.


You may not know it, but the Christmas cactus does not live forever, as do many other plants. In general, the life expectancy of such a plant is about 10 years. Therefore, there are times when it may surprise you that its stems begin to wrinkle and become irretrievably lost.

What you should do at that time is try prune and remove all those stems that are already dry to relieve the plant a bit and also oxygenate itand see if it has new shoots. If so, nothing happens, because what you are doing is regenerating.

But there will come a time when he cannot go on.


fertilizers cause problems

Finally, the problem that those wrinkled leaves can be due to a misuse of the fertilizer that you use to give it extra nutrients. And is that the Christmas cactus You need a specific fertilizer for cacti and that does not contain sodium.

In fact, this is the biggest problem when using them, since the label of these products is not checked and we can cause a bigger problem.

If you have added liquid to it, a solution to the problem is to do an emergency transplant, that is, remove the soil that is where these nutrients are and put it in another clean one. It is true that this is stressful on the plant, but it can be tough enough to withstand it.

If it is in powder or granules, it is easier to eliminate, since removing the first layer of soil separates it from the plant.

As you can see, there are several reasons why the leaves of Christmas cacti shrink, but everything has a solution and, being a succulent, it can be very easy to recover them. So you just have to try and try to change the state of your plant in a matter of days or weeks.

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  1.   Elementary proficiency said

    My cactus had buttons and they are falling and I don't know why

    1.    Monica Sanchez said

      Hello Cristina.
      It is possible that it is lacking light, or that it is watering too much. To avoid that, it is important to take it to an area where there is a lot of light, but without direct sun, otherwise it would burn.

      With regard to watering, you have to let the soil dry before watering again so that it does not rot.