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I've been growing a cloned Christmas Cactus now for a few months, and it has been doing quite well. I moved to university 4 days ago (from Swindon, England to Bristol, England) and today I notice that since yesterday the leaves have mostly changed colour! The leaves were quite light green and suddenly they have adopted a much darker green colour and the leaves appear waxier. Is there anything wrong with it, or is this natural (for instance preparing to flower)? It also isn't absorbing water as fast as it was a few weeks ago.

Here is a picture to highlight the colour difference between a new and old leaf.

enter image description here

  • Might be a lighting inconsistency. Moving from higher to lower light levels, these symptoms sometimes occur. Also, have there been significant differences in the temperature and humidity? – J. Musser Sep 25 '14 at 1:10
  • Temperature difference in the car on the way, and it is slightly colder here than Swindon. if anything it is slightly brighter at night than at home, as street lights are white rather than yellow – J_mie6 Sep 25 '14 at 16:25
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Several possibilities - it may have been exposed to very cool outside temperatures during the move if it was night time, or experienced much hotter than usual temperatures whilst being moved (in a car during a sunny day, for instance), so transition shock is a possibility. Swindon to Bristol is a fairly short journey though, so not sure that's the explanation. It may be getting ready to flower, and if it is, watering should be reduced and the plant kept cool, optimally between 12 and 15 deg C, until the flower buds appear - once they do, temperature should be increased to 18-21 degrees and watering increased. Not sure how you're going to manage that in your room, but getting ready to flower might explain its sudden lack of interest in taking up water.

Keep it in the coolest spot you can manage, away from any heat source and sunlight, don't water other than sparingly, and let it recover (or start budding).

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    move was during the day, and it was unusually hot and humid. That could be it, I will regulate temperature as much as I can, window open = cold, window closed = warm, so that should be sufficient. Should I let it dry out a bit more than normal before watering, I usually leave it until fairly dry, not damp – J_mie6 Sep 25 '14 at 16:24
  • Your plant looks great! It is cool that you can see a difference, though because of course it experienced some stress! Main thing is let it get used to its new home, allowing it to dry out more. When you are able, this plant would love a clay pot instead of plastic. Clay allows the soil to dry from the sides a bit more. Watch for deposits of white on the soil and once in clay, the sides of the pot. Using tap water that is softened will require changing the soil more often. I'd just use distilled water. – stormy Sep 25 '14 at 21:20
  • @J_mie6 - don't keep it so short of water that it starts shrivelling - if you see the compost shrinking from the sides of the pot, give it a drop then, but it doesn't sound as if you're overwatering anyway, though you did say it's not drinking as much as usual, so maybe you've already adjusted your watering to compensate. – Bamboo Sep 26 '14 at 11:24
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The darker color is clearly a sign of better conditions and a healthier plant. The greener the better. I mean just look at how unhealthy the new growth looks compared to the established.

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i believe every new leaves are always clearer.

At growth stages, chlorophyll pigments are abundant in the cells, the green chlorophyll molecules dominates the color and mask any other pigment which may be present in the leaves.

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I would view the darker green color as a good thing; the plant has more chlorophyll so it's producing more energy. It appears to be using that energy to make new growth.

Cactus have a waxy coating called the cuticle which limits transpiration (among other things). Also a good thing if it is generating more cuticle material.

I'm curious about your "isn't absorbing water as fast as it was a few weeks ago." What are you observing? Do the leaves feel soft-ish?

Keep in mind that this is a jungle cactus that needs different care than a "normal" cactus. I don't grow these, but there is plenty of information on the internets. I would avoid sites "selling" things and try to find science-based information. A lot of the info I browsed was ridiculous. Good luck!

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