Brilliantly blooming Holiday cacti

Published on May 16th 2020
A close up of a flower
Holiday cacti are taking over the Feed with their gorgeous iridescent flowers. These plants grace many homes, balconies and outdoor spaces as they burst into bloom.
Holiday cacti are popular indoor plants as they are easy to care for and even easier to propagate from stem cuttings. Many gardeners have even become collectors of these plants as they come in a myriad of flower colour variations.

What are Holiday cacti?

Holiday cacti naturally occur in the mountainous jungles of Brazil and even though it is called a leaf cactus, Holiday cacti are not true cacti but rather an epiphytic plant. They grow roots that anchor them to branches, cliffs or rocky outcrops.
Stems look like flattened leaves and with age, will thicken and turn woody at the base to provide support to growing young stems.
A close up of a flower
Thanksgiving cactus | Schlumbergera truncata
The Easter cactus (Schlumbergera gaertneri) are spring bloomers whereas the Christmas cactus and Thanksgiving cactus bloom in autumn into winter. These three types of Holiday cacti are named after the holidays in which they bloom in the Northern hemisphere.
Easter cacti have rounded leaves with small bristles on the end of the leaf segment and broader flowers, whereas the Christmas cacti and Thanksgiving cacti have tubular-shaped flowers.
A vase of flowers on a plant
Easter cactus. Photo by @KeenGardenia.
Thanksgiving cacti (Schlumbergera truncata) are often sold as Christmas cacti (Schlumbergera x buckleyii), and although both belong to the same genus and are both native to the tropical forests of Brazil, there are two main differences between them namely, flowering time and leaf-shape.
A close up of a flower
Christmas cactus | Schlumbergera x buckleyi
In South Africa, Thanksgiving cacti flower in fall and Christmas cacti flower one month after. Thanksgiving cacti have jagged margins, whereas Christmas cacti have flattened leaves with scallop-shaped margins.
A drawing of a person
The difference between the three cacti is found in the shape of the leaves.
Take a look at their plant profiles below:

Growing Holiday cacti

Watering is crucial to caring for your cactus as they are tropical and should not be allowed to dry out. On the other hand, too much water will cause root-rot and fungal infection, so ensure that the soil is well-draining and allow the topsoil to dry before watering again.
A close up of a pink flower on a cactus
Thanksgiving cactus. Photo by @Caleigh
Feed every two weeks in spring to early autumn with a houseplant fertiliser. In autumn and winter, reduce feeding to once a month.
Tip | To trigger flowering, Thanksgiving cacti need cool temperatures (10-15 degrees Celsius) and shorter daylight hours (14 hour-long nights) for six weeks.
A red flower in a tree
Photo by @frances

Is your holiday cactus flowering? Be sure to share a post and hashtag #holidaycactus

Community Posts

Easter cactus
Thanksgiving cactus
Christmas cactus
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