November Brilliance: The “Thanksgiving” Cactus (Schlumbergera truncate)

March 31, 2014 – 03:16 am

THE CACTUS PLANT I TREASURE MOST comes not from the desert, but from the mountains of Brazil, where it grows, like the orchid, in the crotches of trees. I’m referring to the magnificent Schlumbergera truncate, pictured above. How to grow this easy-to-find “Thanksgiving Cactus, ” and how to tell it apart from the rare “Christmas Cactus:”

From late October through November, the “Thanksgiving” cactus puts on a show that mocks every other resident of my window garden. This is when some two dozen fuschia-like flowers drip from all the leaf tips which cover the plant’s five-inch pot.

If you don’t already own one of these beauties in purple, pink, red, yellow, or white, my advice is to obtain one in early November. Your florist is sure to have one already in bud or bloom at this time. I can tell you the plant is a terrific investment, for it increases in both grace and dignity with each passing year.

Culture: Truncate is all the better for a humus-rich but well-draining soil. My three plants flourish in 2 parts leaf mold and 1 part perlite. If you don’t have access to leaf mold, a commercial peat and perlite potting mix will do.

For better growth, and hence more blossoms, be sure to pamper this succulent during the warm-weather months. Mine lounge and luxuriate on the shady and sheltered front porch all summer. I keep the fountainous growth coming along with every-other-day waterings, and frequent applications of all-purpose plant food.

Summer is also the time I pinch off segments to encourage branching. The broken segments, if inserted 3 to a 4-inch pot, can be rooted for new plants. These often flower their very first year.

Like the poinsettia, truncate produces its flowers in response to shortening day-lengths. In September all food must be withheld, and watering decreased to once weekly. Then, in October, bring the plant to a cool, dim windowsill, and let it remain there until every leaf tip is lit with color. (If your plant refuses to set buds, give it long, 12-hour nights in a dark closet for thee weeks, and only dim light during daytime.)

When buds begin to open, move the cactus to a light (not sunny) place. The plant will look especially decorative if perched on a stand or bracket where its pendulous stems can freely cascade. Cool temperatures and weekly water will insure a lush bloom period that lasts from four to six weeks.

When flowering ceases, decrease water and set the cacti in full sun. That is, until warm weather invites its return to a shaded, sheltered position outdoors.


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Christmas Cactus Care and Blooming
Christmas Cactus Care and Blooming
Thanksgiving Cactus propagation
Thanksgiving Cactus propagation

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

Christmas Cactus Plant Rare 'White' Variety
Lawn & Patio ()
  • Buds bloom from Thanksgiving to Christmas.
  • A healthy potted young plant
  • Beautiful rare snow white blooms
  • Rare holiday and year round favorite
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. Thanksgiving cactus (plant)
  2. Thanksgiving cactus Problems
  3. Thanksgiving cactus Blooms when