Gardening picture(Editor's Note: This article was originally published on November 25, 2011. Your comments are welcome, but please be aware that authors of previously published articles may not be able to promptly respond to new questions or comments.)

Both Thanksgiving and Christmas cacti are epiphytes that grow on tree branches in tropical rainforest areas. Their high perch allows water from frequent rainfall to drain quickly. Although native to Brazil, the genus is named after a Frenchman by the name of Frédéric Schlumberger. Flowers appear at the tips of branches and are beautiful during the day but close at night.

Schlumbergera truncata is the scientific name of the Thanksgiving cactus, and the Christmas cactus is a cross between two species and correctly named S. ×buckleyi. Even though S. truncata is the Thanksgiving cactus, it is the one that is usually sold as Christmas cactus. Sellers call it Christmas cactus because it sells best by that name.Image , S. ×buckleyi, blooms a month or so later than the Thanksgiving cactus and is usually in bloom after the holidays are past.

S. truncata (Thanksgiving cactus) is easy to distinguish from the S. ×buckleyi (Christmas cactus). On Thanksgiving cactus, flowers are asymmetrical and are held out from the ovary so that they are almost horizontal from the tips of segments. ally symmetrical and hang down straight from the ovary.

Thanksgiving cactus: asymmetrical flowers bend upward at ovary so that they are almost horizontal

Thanksgiving cactus: foliage segments are "toothed, : with soft points or claw-like projections; truncated

Leaf blades and growth characteristics are different, too. Leaf blade edges on Thanksgiving cactus are toothed (dentate) while those on the true Christmas cactus are crenate (scalloped) and do not have the teeth or points along the sides. Typically, the Thanksgiving cactus branches are more upright than those of the arching but pendent branches of Christmas cactus.

Christmas cactus: branches pendent

Thanksgiving cactus: branches erect
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Twice_shy's October Garden Tour

Welcome to Twice_shy's October Garden Tour
Photo 1: Thanksgiving salad fixin's, "Cherry Bell" radish and "Buttercrunch" lettuce seedlings. Radish is saved seed. Lettuce is 10 cent/pack seeds from local drugstore.
Photo 2: Dahlias making their last show for the season. Not sure of the first variety, some kind of burgandy colored cactus type; the second globe shaped one is named "Rose Toscano" as I recall. I dig these up in early winter, divide & store, then replant in the spring or sprout stem cuttings from a pot tuber. The entire yard could be nothing but dahlias in a year or two, they propagate very easily

Hirt's Hirt's White Christmas Cactus Plant - Zygocactus - 4" pot
Lawn & Patio (Hirt's)
  • Homegrown by Hirt s Gardens
  • Easy to grow. Blooms between Thanksgiving and Christmas
  • Prefers morning sun or very bright, indirect light
  • Water when dry
  • The plant you will receive is growing in a 4 pot

Related posts:

  1. Yellow Thanksgiving Cactus
  2. White Thanksgiving Cactus
  3. Care of Thanksgiving cactus