How to Tell the Thanksgiving Cactus Apart From The Christmas Cactus

I can still remember the first time my Christmas cactus bloomed in my sun-room. It seemed to be one of those novelty plants you buy someone as a gift or bring home to enjoy during the Holidays and then dumb in the compost pile come Spring.  Little did I know that if you take care of the plant it will bloom again and again! In this post, we learn about How to Tell the Thanksgiving Cactus Apart From The Christmas Cactus.  I also have a few growing tips featured below.

What’s with The Name?

Would the REAL Schlumbergera bridgesii please stand up...

Did you know that most of these plants labeled Christmas cactus are impostors? At the store most ‘Christmas’ Cactus are actually the Thanksgiving Cactus and maybe even be an Easter Cactus. It is true….my friend  Lisa Eldred Steinkopf who is the Author of Houseplants – the Complete Guide first broke the news to me on my Creative Living with Bren Haas show. She shared that the Christmas cactus isn’t really the original cactus but that the plant has been hybridized. The new plant was being called her grandmother’s Schlumbergera bridgesii cactus.  The true Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera bridgesii) blooms later in the year than the Thanksgiving cactus (Schlumbergera truncata).

How to tell the Thanksgiving Cactus from at Christmas Cactus

The easiest way to tell them apart, though, is the shape of their stem segments or phylloclades (cladodes). The Latin for the leaf is phyllo- and for the branch is -clade. They both have these flattened stem segments, but the Thanksgiving cactus has segments with small pointed appendages, whereas the Christmas cactus has rounded edges. By the way, they really are cactus. Epiphytic cactus, as they grow in Brazilian rainforests in trees, but cactus none the less.  

Matthaei Botanical Gardens

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More Information About the Thanksgiving and Christmas Cactus

Below you will find some details on the Thanksgiving and Christmas Cactus featuring what I’ve learned over the years.  Be sure to click over and tell me if you own one and how your plant is doing.

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Your comments mean to world to me so be sure to leave one below.  I’d love to hear what you think about a cactus blooming during the Christmas season so check out my contact page!

Happy Gardening,

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