Holiday Cactus ID and Simple Care Tips

July 23, 2012 – 09:01 am

Holiday CactusThe winter blues are nothing a little indoor gardening can’t handle. And what better way to chase the blues away than with a fun show of colorful blossoms? For that reason exactly, I enjoy having a holiday cactus around.

Here are the three types of holiday cactus:

  • Thanksgiving Cactus (Schlumbergera truncata) has pointy margins on the plant stem segments, a bloom period of Oct-Nov, and the anther pollen in the flower is yellow.
  • Christmas Cactus (Schlumbergera bridgesii) has rounded margins, a bloom period of Dec-Jan, and the anther pollen is purplish-brown.
  • Easter Cactus (Rhipsalidopsis gaertneri) is easier to distinguish because it’s main flower period is in the spring but it will also sporadically flower throughout the year. The Easter Cactus only flowers in Red and Pink, whereas the other two come in a whole range of colors.

Holiday CactusThis one that I have is a Thanksgiving Cactus. The pointed margins and yellow pollen are the major indicators. This cactus is new to my indoor garden this year and the bloom time is a little off, most likely because it came from a nice little greenhouse and was forced to bloom in time for Christmas. So as to sell. And it worked.


In their native habitat, holiday cacti are epiphytes that grow among the shady branches of large trees in the brazillian rainforest. What a life! Their long stems hang down from the trees, so if you’re able to put them in a hanging basket you can pretend you’re in the Brazillian rainforest too! Or maybe that’s just me.


Unlike other cacti, these don’t like to go bone dry. Keep their soil moist to the touch in the winter months and slightly under-water in the summer. Never let the soil get too wet, and don’t let it sit in a tray of water.

Holiday CactusLight:

During the summer months they like to be in a light shady place (much like a forest), but during the fall and winter months you can move them to get as much bright indirect light as possible for bud production.


Feed them once a month during the growing period (April to September) with a half-strength soluble fertilizer. If you can get organic fertilizer, do so. Organic fertilizer has many more trace elements and nutrients in the mixture that will add to the overall health of your plant. Stop fertilizing in late summer for better fall bud production.


Holiday cacti don’t believe in personal space, they like to live in close quarters. You’ll want to let them get sufficiently pot bound before you re-pot them. They can usually go a number of years (3) before needing to be repotted.


Holiday cacti are super easy to propagate. If you don’t want to buy one, and you know someone who has one, ask them for a piece of the stem with 3-5 segments. Let the ends dry and heal over before you put them into well-drained potting soil mixed with perlite or cactus mix. Place the segments one inch deep and one inch apart from each other. A 4 inch container can hold three segments, a 6 inch container can hold 5. Water the soil well. Cover the plants and container with a plastic bag, held to the container with an elastic. Move the container and bag to bright indirect light and the plastic covering will act as a mini greenhouse. You should have root growth in 3-8 weeks, at which point you remove the covering and water with a diluted fertilizer. Done!


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Gardening Plant Care : Cactus Plant Care
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Taking Care Of Christmas Cactus
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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

Related posts:

  1. Thanksgiving Cactus Dropping Leaves
  2. Thanksgiving cactus (plant)
  3. Thanksgiving Cactus Crab Cactus
  4. Thanksgiving cactus Flowering
  5. Thanksgiving cactus Pruning