5 Reasons for Christmas Cactus Leaves Turning Purple

The Christmas cactus is a popular holiday plant known for its vibrant blooms that show up during Christmas time. It’s an awesome gift and an easy houseplant because it can bloom indoors in the winter. Unlike other desert cacti, this one actually comes from tropical rainforests and likes humidity, some sunlight, and warmer temperatures.

But sometimes, there can be issues with the plant, like when the leaves turn purple. In this article, we’ll talk about five reasons why that might happen and give you solutions to get your Christmas cactus back to being healthy.

Key Takeaway:

If you’re wondering “Why is my Christmas cactus turning purple?”, it could be due to nutrient deficiency, a rootbound situation, excessive sunlight, temperature fluctuations, or improper watering.

christmas cactus leaves turning purple

Is There a Purple Christmas Cactus?

Christmas cacti come in a stunning array of shades, ranging from pink and scarlet to gold, orange, white, and cream. Many varieties also feature bicolored flowers, boasting multiple hues in a single bloom. But there is no such thing as a purple Christmas cactus.

Purple Leaves on Christmas Cactus: What’s Going On?

Whether you’ve noticed your Christmas cactus starting to show purple leaves, or you’re simply curious about this phenomenon, understanding the causes can help you provide the right care. Despite the name, Christmas cacti don’t naturally come in purple. Let’s explore the five main causes for this discoloration and discuss how to solve each issue:

1. Lack of Nutrients

Like any plant, Christmas cacti need essential nutrients to stay healthy. If your cactus lacks key macronutrients, such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, its leaves may turn purple. To remedy this, use a balanced liquid fertilizer every two weeks in spring and summer. You can also make nutrient-rich compost tea to give it an extra boost.

2. Rootbound Situation

When a Christmas cactus becomes rootbound, its roots outgrow the pot, leading to purple leaves. This restricts nutrient uptake and growth. Repotting the cactus in a larger pot with fresh soil will give it room to thrive. Be sure to remove any old soil or tangled roots and use clay-based potting soil.

3. Excessive Sunlight

While a little sunlight is good, too much can harm your Christmas cactus. Overexposure to direct sunlight can cause purple leaves due to sunburn. Place the cactus in an area with indirect sunlight, away from artificial light and excessive heat. A window ledge is usually a good spot.

christmas cactus leaves turning purple

Related Post:
How Much Light Does a Christmas Cactus Need?

4. Temperature Fluctuations

Tropical plants like Christmas cacti prefer warm and stable temperatures. Sudden drops or spikes in temperature can lead to purple leaves. Maintain a consistent environment by keeping it away from drafts and extreme temperature changes.

5. Improper Watering

Overwatering can cause root rot, which manifests as wilting and yellowing leaves. If left untreated, this can result in purple leaves as well. Water your Christmas cactus sparingly, allowing the soil to dry between waterings. Ensure thorough watering and remove any standing water from the pot’s saucer.

Related Post:
How Much Water Does a Christmas Cactus Need?

How Do You Revive a Purple Christmas Cactus?

If you notice your Christmas cactus turning purple, it’s time to take action to revive it. First, figure out why it’s changing color. If it’s because of too much sunlight, move it to a spot with indirect light. Keep the temperature and humidity consistent to create a stable environment for your plant.

Improper watering can also cause discoloration, so let the soil dry out more between waterings and make sure the top two inches of soil are properly wet when you do water it. If none of these steps work, repotting the cactus in fresh soil can provide a nutrient boost and more space for roots to grow.

Using a fertilizer designed for Christmas cacti once every two weeks can also help the plant recover from its purple shade. Keep a close eye on your cactus and act promptly when you see signs of discoloration. With proper care, you can revive it and keep it healthy for years to come.

Is It Normal for Christmas Cactus Leaves To Turn Purple?

christmas cactus leaves turning purple

Yes, it happens sometimes due to excessive sunlight, temperature changes, or improper watering. Take steps to address these issues and you can revive and maintain a healthy, green Christmas cactus.

Will A Purple Christmas Cactus Turn Green Again?

Yes, it’s possible with quick action. If too much sunlight is the cause, move it to a spot with indirect light. Adjust your watering schedule to let the soil dry more between sessions and thoroughly water when needed. Applying cactus and succulent fertilizer can also help it regain its green color.

How Do You Keep a Christmas Cactus Green?

Make sure it gets enough water and nutrients. Water it when the top few inches of soil are dry and fertilize every two weeks using a cactus and succulent-specific fertilizer. Place it in indirect light and maintain a consistent environment. Keep a close watch for any signs of discoloration and act promptly to keep your Christmas cactus happy and green.


To keep your Christmas cactus thriving and beautiful, remember these key points: too much direct sunlight, improper watering, and extreme temperature changes can cause purple discoloration. By making simple adjustments, you can revive your cactus.

Move it to an area with indirect light, maintain consistent temperatures and humidity, let the soil dry out more between watering, and ensure the top two inches of soil are properly wet when you do water it. Applying a cactus and succulent fertilizer every two weeks can provide essential nutrients to keep it healthy.

Keep a close eye on your plant and take action at the first sign of discoloration. With proper care and attention, your Christmas cactus will continue to impress for years to come.