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Holiday Cacti


By balcony


Holiday Cacti – that is the Cacti that flower at Thanksgiving, Christmas & Easter.

Today I was renaming some of my old photos & I got stuck on the proper spelling of the botanical name for Easter Cactus. I tried to look it up in my RHS Gardening Encyclopedia but as I wasn’t sure of the spelling I couldn’t find it! So I put in “Easter Cactus” in my browser & it immediately came up!

As there were lots of entries I thought I would look at some of them while I was at it. I made a discovery that I didn’t know about before! Did you know there is a “Thanksgiving Cactus” as well as a “Christmas Cactus”? Well I didn’t! This is the first time I’ve ever heard of it as well!

They are identical in every way – except for when they flower! But there is a way to tell them apart when they are not in flower! Look at the “leaves” of your plant, (if you have one of course!), if they are fleshy, plump & rounded then you have the proper “Christmas Cactus”, (Schlumbergera x buckleyi), this plant will flower around Christmas. (December/January)

On the other hand if the “leaves” are flattened, thin & have ragged edges then what you have is a “Thanksgiving Cactus” (Schlumbergera truncata)! These flower in October/November/December.

I immediately went into the kitchen, where all my “Holiday Cacti” live, to check on what I’ve got! As I suspected, even before getting up from my computer, I found they were, in their majority,“Thanksgiving Cacti” (Schlumbergera truncata)!

I only have ONE true “Christmas Cactus” (Schlumbergera x buckleyi) it seems.

They are all named (incorrectly!) Christmas Cactus as I didn’t know there was a Thanksgiving Cactus till now. Therefore I went back over many of my old photos & renamed them adding the correct botanical name to the photos!

Though in all truth it doesn’t really matter if you call them one or the other! They are called “Christmas Cactus” by the growers so we shouldn’t be worried over what to call them either!

Here are some Easter Cacti (Hatiora gaetneri) photos – but they date back to 2014 as I haven’t had any for a couple of years:

Although they all look alike when not in flower the Easter Cactus has a totally different flower shape as well as flowering in the springtime.

Here are a couple of links to some pages where they explain more about the differences between the “Holiday Cacti”

Hope you find them of as much interest as I did!

Here are a few photos I took this morning of my Thanksgiving Cacti in our kitchen:

Christmas Cactus:

No, it’s not an error, I think this is the Christmas Cactus “Schlumbergera x buckleyi” as it doesn’t have the serrated leaf pads of “Schlumbergera truncata”

But there is a possibility that it might be (Hatiora gaetneri) the Easter Cactus.

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Ha! It seems that I have been selling Thanksgiving Cactus as "Christmas Cactus" for decades. In fact, I think that this is the first time that I have seen a true Christmas Cactus in over thirty years of nursery work! I suspect that the growers find S. truncata easier to mass produce and manipulate the flowering time than S. x buckleyi.

26 Nov, 2017


I've also been calling them "Christmas Cacti" for the last 16 years! As I say in my blog above, I hadn't even heard of "Thanksgiving Cacti" before now!

Whatever name you choose to sell them by the great majority of people will always refer to them as "Christmas Cacti!

Thanks for reading, & commentating, on my blog. ??

26 Nov, 2017


That's interesting ! :)
I don't think I've got a proper Christmas cactus then, although some of my 'Thanksgiving' cacti flower at Christmas time, and even into January and February.

27 Nov, 2017


I dont bother much about people's pseudonyms, thought that was Hywel. Ha Ha.
Was suspicious when you mentioned the kitchen !
I like the Thanksgiving Cactus best.

27 Nov, 2017


Oh I'm guilty as well then, although I have always called one an easter cactus because it does flower later than the others, never until this year had I heard of one called Thanksgiving Cactus but it seems that is what mine is, thanks Balcony, a very good read, I will correct mine in my pages for future reference..

27 Nov, 2017


Again as I said earlier, it makes no real difference (unless you are a fanatic for the most exact & correct names!), most people, even myself, will probably be calling the "Thanksgiving Cactus" "Christmas Cactus" forever!

If you really are a fanatic (or just very interested) then the way to tell the difference between the two is to look at the leaf pads, if they have pointy ends & are flat then that's the "Thanksgiving Cactus", this will flower anytime from October through to December, if on the other hand the leaf pads are almost completely rounded & are plump, then what you have is a true "Christmas Cactus", this will start to flower in December & will continue into January.

The Easter Cactus has much plumper leaf pads with tiny bristles in the tips of the them. If your plant shows no sign of producing flower buds before the New Year than that is what you have. This flowers in April/May & the flowers are completely different. Just look at the photos I put in my blog to seethe difference. (The date is also stamped on them, (like on all my photos!) so you can see when they flowered.

27 Nov, 2017


Too much artificial light at night will delay or prevent bloom on all of them.

28 Nov, 2017


The 3rd pic from the bottom does look as though it is the Easter cactus.
I have one that I posted pics of, you saw the one in full flower, the other was before that stage & had the info about them on it.
'Christmas cacti have smooth, round edges and Thanksgiving cacti have pointy, jagged ones;
Easter cacti are known for the bristles that can be found on the edges of their leaf segments'.
The pads have an undulating edges & mine, at this time of year, have a red margin along the edges.

Here's the link to mine for info:

28 Nov, 2017


Tug: My plants live in the same place all the time & are never moved. They live in the corner by the window which used to hold a TV set - till about 3 years ago. Being in the kitchen they are never in complete darkness as we are in & out of the kitchen constantly turning on & off the (florescent) light - which is a much stronger light this year than in previous years. Yet they are flowering about the same time as in previous years. (Whether they are sensitive to the light from the new florescent tube I have no idea)

Thanks, Greenfinger, I've had a look at your Easter Cactus. ? & made a comment.

28 Nov, 2017


Thanks Balcony, I like the pic showing it in full bloom best.The Easter cactus is a bit of a prima donna & will have a tantrum if not happy.
I let mine get too dry & whole segments dropped off (you can propagate those though).
Too much sunlight & the leaves will go reddish. Too much water & they'll yellow.
Mine currently looks like yours on 'living room table' with the red margins on leaf edges.
The other kinds are more forgiving.

30 Nov, 2017


Yes, the Easter Cactus are more temperamental than the others which is why I probably lost them. I believe it came s from a somewhat different area of Brazil than the others & prefers slightly different conditions.

30 Nov, 2017

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