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How to Care for The Christmas Cactus

There are a few basic tips that you need to know to successfully grow a Christmas cactus or what many call the Thanksgiving cactus. In this post, I share tips that work for me along with some fun facts about the plant.

White Thanksgiving Cactus

The image above is from Ellen Tyner who is a Facebook friend.

In this video, I share a few important tips about the Thanksgiving and Christmas Cactus.  You will quickly learn how to keep this fun plant growing in your home and or garden year-round.  Using my pronunciation app on my iPhone I share the correct Latin name for the plants.  I also share in the video tips on feeding and repotting the plant.  ENJOY!

Play Video

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Tips and Tricks To Grow Success

Below are a few tips I’ve learned over the years growing this plant in my home.  I’ve killed a few along the way but also had a few bloom again with some basic tips.  If you follow the tips below you should have no problem keeping the plant happy.

  1. Never let the soil dry completely out.
  2. Plant the cactus in a sandy soil.
  3. Do not place the plant in direct sunlight.
  4. Provide some humidity – use a pebble tray below the plant and keep it wet.

Assortment of Colors

Over the years I have owned a few different colors.  Some of my favorites are the yellow and pink tip Thanksgiving cactus below.  This was a display at a garden center I shopped outside of Rochester New York last December.  I brought a few goodies home from this beautiful location.

Christmas Cactus in Container Combo

What do you think of using the Thanksgiving Cactus in a combo planting? 

In the photo above I have a black pot with proper drainage in a decorated ceramic pot.  This will allow the access water to drain to the bottom and not waterlog the plant.  For watering, I like to do the finger in soil tests after watering making sure the top of the soil is very wet.  The cactus plants not like to be completely dry.  Or it will look sad and dry like mine did in the video presentation above.  Use a watering can and pour the water directly into the soil around the plant.  Use a saucer of the container and filling it with pebbles that you will fill with water providing a micro-climate for the plant indoors.

Facebook Friend Shares Her Cactus

Below are a few options for displaying your larger Christmas and Thanksgiving Cactus plants.  I love how my Facebook friend used another container to create a ‘pillar’ of sort.   The 3 following images are from Ellen Tyner who shared her collection with me.

This is the room these beautiful plants are located.  Ellen shares with me that this room is normally filled with plants.   This photo was taken late Spring and several had been moved outdoors. My favorite room in my house!!

Sunroom with houseplants

I asked Ellen on Facebook if she had any secrets to growing the cactus and she replied: ” I don’t have a secret….do have a consistent schedule for feeding and watering.” 

Did you Know

Christmas Cactus in Bloom at Thanksgiving

You can tell the Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera bridgesii) from a Thanksgiving cactus (Schlumbergera truncata) apart from the shape of its leaves. The leaf segments, botanically termed “phylloclades”, are serrated or “toothed” on the former as compared to the more rounded leaf margins of the Christmas cactus.  Read my post about this on my site at Christmas Cactus VS Thanksgiving Cactus.

More Cactus Post on My Site

below are a few of my favorite post about growing the Christmas and Thanksgiving cactus and other in this grouping.  I’ve become a huge fan of growing cactus and succulent plants over the years.

Let’s Connect

I’d love to connect with you so please be sure to tweet me below or comment on this blog post.  Do you have a Christmas, Thanksgiving or Holiday Cactus?

Happy Growing Cactus this Holiday Season,

9 Responses

  1. I have one that was my great gramma’s, we believe it is alteast 50 years old. I am now almost 30 and can recall as a young child helping my Nan to wipe the dust off. Asha w/ Jolly Farmer

    1. Forgot to mention that it does still bloom (twice a year for some odd reason) Bright pink blossoms but no more then 10 or so blooms.

  2. my cactus has been breaking off at the bottom of the stem – what am I doing wrong?

    1. I had this happen before on one of my cactus – the problem was I didn’t notice that the water wasn’t draining from the container until it was too late. I had to repot the plant to get down to the bottom where the hole had been plugged by a few stones. ( NOT SURE how those got there!) I used cactus soil that is made to drain well. Is your soil wet???? Let me know so we can try and figure those one out together.

    2. I’ve had another branch broken off since I posted my query, and only have two left. I’m wondering if I over watered it. I may have to start anew with another cactus. I’m so sad because it’s a beautiful bright green leaf with vibrant coral flowers, and it blooms twice a year. It bloomed just before Christmas and what’s left of it is blooming now. It’s in a small pot; could it be root bound?

      1. Hi Marilyn,
        I’ve had branches fall off my cactus, as well. I think it happens when the plant has been allowed to dry out too much and then watered. It damages the roots. It likes to be root bound, but pull the plant out of the pot and check the roots and make sure there are no root mealybugs or some other obvious problem. It may be a good idea to take some cuttings in the spring and start a new plant or two to make sure you don’t lose the plant all together.

  3. My Thanksgiving cactus has no flowers. Did you say to water it with a water/Epsom salt solution? Would keeping it in the dark during the day force it to flower?

    1. I’ve had luck with my Christmas Cactus blooming after keeping it in my dome greenhouse for at least 2 weeks during the late Autumn season. Basically, the temperature needs to be around 61* and the plant can not dry out or be in a drafty area. You can create these same conditions in your home. Maybe a closet or a spare bedroom that is dark. The plant needs to stay dark and late autumn early winter season is perfect. There needs to be at least eight days of 16 hours of dark and eight hours of light each day. If you turn the lights on it will breaks the dark cycle required. Originally I found these tips (that worked for me) on the Michigan State University Extension office site at: https://www.canr.msu.edu/

      I hope this works for you. You’ve reminded me to go check on mine out in the dome greenhouse. I might just bring mine into the spare bedroom closet that is dark and document how it goes! The last time I did this I set a reminder alarm on my mobile phone so I didn’t forget the 8 hours of daylight each day for 2 weeks.

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