Holiday Cacti, both Thanksgiving and Christmas, are bright and cheerful houseplants that bring a bold and beautiful bloom of color indoors during the winter months.
These plants don’t resemble their cacti cousins. Native to forests and jungles rather than desert regions, these plants are generally epiphytic, growing on trees or rocks. Distinctly flattened claw-like joints approximately one-inch long form the arched and hanging stems. The two-and-one-half to three-inch long tubular blossoms emerge from the stem tips.
In case you’re wondering, there is also an Easter cactus. The Thanksgiving and Christmas cactus, often called Zygo cactus, bloom during the holidays that they are named after and share the same genus, Schlumbergera. The Easter cactus is a close relative of a different genus, Hatiora, and forms its flowers at the stem joints instead of the tips. Hybrid holiday cacti create a wider variety of bloom times and colors, including pink, reddish, white, cream, gold, orange, purple, and even multicolored blooms on the same plant.
Caring for Holiday Cacti
Holiday cacti are easy to grow and care for. These simple instructions can help you make Christmas and Thanksgiving cactus part of your holiday traditions for years to come.
Once you bring your holiday cactus home:
- Keep the soil moist while the cactus is blooming.
- Place the cactus where it will receive bright indirect light for six to eight hours daily. Avoid direct sunlight that can burn the plant.
- This plant loves humidity! To promote a humid environment, mist frequently, run a humidifier, group plants together, or place plants on a pebble tray filled with water.
Reblooming of Holiday Cactus
When blossoms have faded, it is time to adjust the care of your holiday cactus to promote next year’s blooms.
- In the spring and summer, fertilize holiday cacti regularly with half-strength, balanced, liquid houseplant fertilizer. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
- If you wish, you may give your holiday cactus an outdoor vacation once all danger of frost has passed.
- Early October is when you begin to entice a holiday cactus back into bloom again. At this time, place the plant in a cool room, ideally 55 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Allow the soil to dry between waterings to force dormancy, which is necessary for reblooming.
- Ensure that the holiday cactus receives indirect sunlight during the day and at least twelve hours of complete, uninterrupted darkness for six weeks to promote flower buds.
- Once buds form, resume regular care, including light, humidity, and water.
Over time, these plants can grow to tremendous proportions and will have dozens of blooms just when their colors are most welcome. With proper care, holiday cacti can live up to 100 years!