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?

Little Helper Fascinated with the Cactus Bloom

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).

Brens Blooms on Cactus

How to tell the Thanksgiving Cactus from at Christmas Cactus

image featuring the leaves

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

How To Get Your Christmas or Thanksgiving Cactus to Bloom Again

Ellen Tyner Blooming Secrets

Click on the image above to see my Facebook connections plant tip.

The Christmas and Thanksgiving cactus may re-bloom again for you again in the same year but not as profusely as holiday time bloom. To encourage springtime blooms, return the plant to its short-day conditions.   What are ‘Short Day Conditions?  This is basically a 12-24 hours of darkness and cool temperatures schedule. If you have over summered your plant outdoors or purchased it from a florist or nursery the plant should be kept in a cool location and in a dark area until it sets buds. A low traffic bedroom or lower area of your home where it is cool and dark.

A few sites that I found useful when study about these plants are listed below.  I also had a great time chatting with folks on my Facebook Page about this plant.

Let’s Connect

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,

 

Bren Haas

Bren Haas

Bren Haas is the creator of GardenChat which is the first online gardening social community using social media. Her website features gardening tips and tricks, recipes, travel ideas, product reviews, and social media how-to help from her personal and unique experiences.

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