Plant Communication: Trying to Listen to My New Christmas Cactus

Merin Porter
Merin Porter Editorial DirectorSouthwest Colorado (Zone 6a)Posts: 807 admin

Let me start by saying that I have spoken to plants for years, but am just now trying my hand at listening to anything they might be trying to communicate back to me. So, total newbie at this.

That said: I just got a new Christmas cactus that's about 15 years old. I've been talking to her and trying to listen, and the feeling I get when I am listening to her is one that I think is best described as "distress." The lady I got her from said she will need to be repotted soon, and I am wondering if this distress I am feeling from the plant is related to that. She has new growth on her and looks healthy -- the need to be repotted is the only thing I can think of that might explain this feeling I am getting.

However, my understanding is that late winter/early spring (Feb/March/April) is the best time to repot these plants, and I don't want to harm her by repotting her too early out of an abundance of newbie enthusiasm or from misunderstanding her distress signals.

Alternately, is it possible that she could be distressed by the change in environment, from the previous owner's house to mine? I started feeling this distress from the plant as soon as I put her in my car and started talking to her.

Anyone with experience talking with and listening to plants who might have any thoughts or insights into this? I would super appreciate any feedback you might be able to offer here.

Thank you so much!


  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Moderator Manitoba, Canada 🍁 zone 3, PrairiesPosts: 4,849 admin

    I don't have that experience, but I do know that a Christmas cactus enjoys being root bound and enjoy some water, but certainly not too much. They also love indirect, but bright sunshine.

    I have my four on a north wall in a very bright, south facing room on the top of a bookcase. They are never in direct sunlight.

    Did you know that there is a number of terms for these? Most correlate with when they bloom, but each has different characteristics.

  • MaryRowe
    MaryRowe Posts: 685 ✭✭✭✭

    I've been trying to listen to my plants for a couple years now, but still consider myself very much a beginner too. That said, I'd tend to think that the move itself would be enough to cause distress, especially if the plant has been in one home for her 15 years. If you suddenly uprooted an older person or a pet from a long-time home and moved them, especially without consulting them or preparing them for the move, it would be pretty traumatic for them too.

    In your place I'd make sure she has optimum conditions in her new spot, give her some time and TLC, keep talking and listening, to see if you can get a clearer read on the cause of the distress. If the move is the cause, then something stressful like repotting might make it worse.

  • Merin Porter
    Merin Porter Editorial Director Southwest Colorado (Zone 6a)Posts: 807 admin

    @MaryRowe, this does make sense, and I think it's worth me moving forward as if the move is the cause of the distress, rather than assuming she's distressed because her pot is too small and going straight to repotting. Especially since she isn't showing signs of being "droopy" or unhappy otherwise. Thank you so much! I will keep talking to her and giving her good care, and will hope she gets settled in soon!

  • Merin Porter
    Merin Porter Editorial Director Southwest Colorado (Zone 6a)Posts: 807 admin

    I'll bet they're beautiful! When I saw this one for sale, I couldn't resist, because my grandma was a big "plant lady" and I remember her having a cool Christmas cactus. (She also had a phenomenal pencil cactus -- literally as tall as the ceiling -- but I've read that those can be pretty toxic, so I'll probably avoid getting one since we also have kids and dogs in the house....) :)

It is impossible for a man to learn what he thinks he already knows.