Master Gardener: More tips for growing Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter Cactus

Published 12:01 am Saturday, November 27, 2021

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Published by Garden Lovers Club.

Edited by John Green

Editor’s note: This is part two of a three-part series


Thanksgiving 2021 is now a recent memory, and the joy Christmas is just around the corner. This is the second part of a three-part series, where we will discuss the Christmas cactus. While there are numerous similarities to the Thanksgiving cactus and Easter cactus such as leaf segmentation, growing medium needed, light and water requirements, there are also differences.

The Christmas Cactus (Schlumbergera Bridgesii)

Christmas cactus plants are very similar to Thanksgiving cactus; in fact, they are often mistaken for them, but there are differences that appear mainly with the stems, leaves, and the blooming period. This variation of holiday cactus has very flat stems and broad leaves that have rounded indentations. They are still segmented leaves, but they look quite different when you look at the foliage.

Blooms are typically red and white, but yellow and white are also common. The plant needs to be grown at a temperature of about 68 degrees Fahrenheit, and it requires a lot of light, but indirect sunlight is best. Make sure to keep the soil moist, but do not overwater the plant; just water when the top of the soil feels dry to the touch. Make sure the soil is well-draining because these plants do not like to sit in water. Mist the leaves to give the plant the tropical feel that it requires. Since this is a Christmas cactus, it is meant to bloom near the Christmas holiday. To make sure that this occurs, you may need to force the plant into a dormant state This means that the plant will need at least 12 hours of darkness each day, less water, and temperatures of about 55 degrees Fahrenheit. This dormant period should begin in October and last for about four to five weeks. When this is done correctly, you will have beautiful blooms for Christmas that will last for a period of eight weeks.

The Differences between Thanksgiving Cactus, Christmas Cactus, and Easter Cactus

Even though holiday cactus plants tend to look similar, look more closely at the leaves. This is the best way to tell the three plants apart from other than the time of year that they bloom. If the plant has broad, thin leaves that have three points on each side, you are looking at a Thanksgiving cactus. Christmas cactuses have segmented leaves that are more round with small indentations, and Easter cactus plants have small bristles on the edges of their leaves.

If you want to make your home more festive for the holidays with a holiday cactus, it is important to be able to tell which plant you have. You do not want to hope for Christmas blooms and end up with a flowering plant in the spring. Now that you can differentiate between a Thanksgiving cactus, a Christmas cactus, make sure that you have the plant that you think you are growing. They are all easy to care for and maintain, so you can easily have a few of each if you want.

As we continue with part three of the series, next week we will discuss the Easter cactus and it’s differences and similarities to Thanksgiving cactus and Christmas cactus

If you would like more information or to have your gardening questions answered please contact us:

Orange County TX Master Gardeners


Facebook: Orange County Texas Master Gardeners Association.

Orange County Master Gardner Helpline: (409) 882-7010


Master Gardeners: Tips for growing Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter Cactus