Thanksgiving Holiday Cactus Plant: Tips For Growing Thanksgiving Cactus

Green Thanksgiving Cactus Plant With Purple Flowering Buds
thnaksgiving cactus
(Image credit: Henrik_L)

Holiday cacti bloom around the season for which they are named. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that the Thanksgiving cactus blooms around November. The Thanksgiving holiday cactus is an easy to grow interior plant. Both Christmas and Thanksgiving cacti are in the genus Schlumbergera and are native to the tropical forests of Brazil. 

They are attractive plants commonly sold and given as gifts around the holidays but are also easy to propagate from stem cuttings. Read on for Thanksgiving holiday cactus information that will keep you growing and giving away these plants for a lifetime.

Thanksgiving Cactus Information

Schlumbergera truncata is the Thanksgiving cactus. It is called a leaf cactus but is not a true cactus. Rather it is an epiphyte, those plants which live on other plants. The leaves are broad and flat with slight serrations on the edges in the Thanksgiving vs. Christmas cactus, which has smoother edges. 

The flowers that appear in fall are similar to fuchsia blooms and come in hues of yellow, white, pink, and red. These plants are classed as Zygocactus, which some scholars call a misnomer, while others shout it from the roof tops. Whatever type of plant it is, the Thanksgiving holiday cactus is a proven winner, with blooms that last for 2 to 4 months and an easy-going nature. 

The only real problem with the plant is its need to be fooled in order to bloom again the next year. Forcing Thanksgiving cactus to bloom requires cool temperatures and shorter daylight hours. That means if you live in a region with no frost, you can leave the cactus outside to experience just what is naturally occurring. 

Those of us who live where temperatures get cold will have to create false conditions indoors to protect them from the cold, but can experience cool temps down to 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4 C.) and reduced light, including artificial light. Start forcing Thanksgiving cactus to bloom in late summer to early fall.

Thanksgiving Cactus Plant Care

One of the most crucial aspects of Thanksgiving cactus plant care is water. These tropical plants should not be allowed to dry out; however, excess water at the roots can cause rotting and fungal issues. 

As an epiphyte, it often has exposed roots and gathers most of its moisture through humidity in the air. Potted plants need well-draining soil and good drainage. Water thoroughly and then allow the top 1/3 of soil dry out before you water again.

Growing Thanksgiving Cactus Cuttings

The plants are easy to propagate and multiply. Snip off a stem with 4 to 5 sections and leaves. Dust the end with fungicide and allow it to callus for a week in a dry location. Fill a small clay pot with vermiculite or perlite mixed with potting soil. 

Alternatively, you can use damp sand. Push the callused end into the mixture and place the pot in bright but indirect light. Tent over the cutting with a plastic bag and remove it for an hour each day to let in air. 

In approximately 3 weeks, the cutting will have rooted and you will have a brand new plant. Growing Thanksgiving cactus to blooming stage will take a couple of years.

Bonnie L. Grant

Bonnie Grant is a professional landscaper with a Certification in Urban Gardening. She has been gardening and writing for 15 years. A former professional chef, she has a passion for edible landscaping.