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Help! I have had this Christmas cactus for about 15 years. I have repotted it and within the last year it has developed like a scaly film over it.  If you have any suggestions it would be greatly appreciated. Thank you so much- Nicole

Hi Nicole,

As holiday cacti age, the lower stems develop a woody texture. What concerns me with yours is that I am not seeing any healthy green growth at the ends of the stems. That is not a normal part of aging.

Older plants should not be repotted, so that may be the cause of its demise. You didn't indicate how it looked prior to repotting. In any case, in pots that are too large, the soil stays moist for too long deep in the pot and root rot may occur. I suspect that may the problem here. Of course, if you hardly ever water it, then the roots could be dying back due to drought. Finally, your plant requires lots of very bright indirect sunlight within a few feet of a sunny window.

You might consider gently removing your plant from its pot and letting the excess soil fall away. You will find a very small root system. If those roots appear to be healthy, then move the plant into the smallest pot that the roots and the attached soil will fit into snugly. Water it thoroughly once and do not add water again until the soil is dry halfway deep into the smaller pot. Look for signs of healthy new growth at the ends of the stems.

Good luck!

I have written an article on Holiday Cactus care that I will email for free to you (or anyone else) who emails a request to me at

Please let me know if any of this is unclear or if you have any additional questions.

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Will Creed


I am the only expert in this category with professional hands-on experience and knowledge of all indoor plants. I can answer questions regarding light, water, fertilizer, repotting, pruning and humidity and temperature requirements. I can identify plant pests and provide information on safe, effective treatments. My answers are based on 35 years of professional experience and scientific research and are clear and easy to understand. I do NOT use search engines to find answers to your questions. If you read my previous posts here, you will get a good idea as to how thorough and professional my answers are.


I have over 35 years of professional indoor landscaping experience caring for plants in homes, offices, building lobbies, stores, restaurants, and other adverse environments. I have written extensively on the care of indoor plants, including a 260 page book. My specialties include Ficus trees, low light plants, repotting, pest control, and re-blooming holiday plants. Be sure to check my ratings and nominations to learn why I am the top-rated indoor plant expert. I am the only House Plant expert consistently ranked in the AllExperts Top 20.

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