How to Plant, Grow, and Care for Thanksgiving Cactus

Whether or not you’re on the lookout for residing Thanksgiving décor, a vibrant pop of colour across the holidays, or just an attractive flowering houseplant, Thanksgiving cactus checks all of the packing containers. It’s notably standard round November however makes an equally alluring houseplant for the remainder of the yr when it’s not in flower.

There are some tips to getting these crops to look their greatest round Thanksgiving time, however they aren’t actually thought-about troublesome to take care of. When you’re a newbie questioning whether or not this plant is best for you, you’re in the precise place.


Watering Necessities


Pests & Illnesses

Mealybug, spider mites, root rot

Soil Kind

Nicely-draining cactus or orchid combine

What Is It?

Close-up of a blooming Thanksgiving cactus in a decorative gray pot against a white wall. The plant features flat, segmented leaves that are generally smooth and toothed along the edges. It produces stunning, pendulous flowers that are tubular in shape and bright pink in color.
These crops are stored as houseplants on account of their adaptability to indoor circumstances.

Thanksgiving cactus is understood at the start for its vibrant and complex flowers that pop up on the excellent time for the vacation they’re named after. As a vacation cactus, it’s typically in comparison with or confused with the Christmas cactus. However whereas there are some similarities, they’re nonetheless totally different species with distinctive traits.

Scientifically often called Schlumbergera truncata, this cactus will not be a ‘cactus’ within the conventional sense. It originates from jungle environments, rising as an epiphyte hooked up to bushes. Indigenous to heat and balmy South America, this plant naturally thrives underneath the canopies of tall bushes. This partially shaded atmosphere matches the circumstances typically discovered in lots of houses, which explains why it’s stored as a houseplant.

The attribute flowers seem late fall, so long as they obtain the precise care. For the remainder of the yr, you possibly can get pleasure from them for his or her attention-grabbing form and cascading nature.

Thanksgiving Cactus Vs. Christmas Cactus

Image comparison of two plant species Thanksgiving Cactus Vs. Christmas Cactus. Thanksgiving Cactus features flat, segmented stems with jagged edges. Christmas Cactus, scientifically known as Schlumbergera bridgesii or Schlumbergera buckleyi, showcases flat, cascading stems with distinctive, flattened leaf segments. The leaves have slightly smoothed scalloped edges. The flower is large, features multiple layers of delicate, curved petals of bright pink color with a white base.
Necessary distinctions embody serrated stems, November flowers, and upright development.

Every of the vacation cacti seems remarkably comparable, and it may be laborious to inform them aside at first look. Thanksgiving and Christmas cacti are sometimes in contrast, with very comparable flowers and general shapes. However, for those who look intently, there are some things that set it aside:

  • Stems: Thanksgiving cactus stem segments have serrated fairly than rounded edges.
  • Flowers: Thanksgiving cactus blooms in late November, versus late December.
  • Type: Thanksgiving cactus stems stay upright fairly than cascading down like a Christmas cactus.

It’s vital to know which species you’re coping with, particularly for those who depend on the plant to flower at a sure time.

How one can Develop

When you perceive their native environments and attempt to match circumstances as greatest as doable, Thanksgiving cactus is a breeze to develop. It may be just a little tough to get them to flower on the proper time, however past that, they’re remarkably beginner-friendly.


Close-up of a blooming Thanksgiving cactus in a white pot on a light windowsill. The plant produces long, dark green, segmented stems. Each stem has serrated edges. The plant has colorful and tubular flowers. The flowers have multiple layers of petals in white with bright pink edges.
Thanksgiving cacti thrive in vibrant, oblique mild and should keep away from full solar, as direct daylight can stress them.

Whereas they respect loads of vibrant, oblique mild for robust flowering, this species will not be keen on full solar – regardless of what the ‘cactus’ within the title might make you consider.

The stems are delicate to extreme direct daylight, which might result in a yellowing or perhaps a reddish tint to the leaves, indicating stress. An east-facing window that receives light, direct solar within the morning and oblique mild for the remainder of the day is good.

Relating to flowering, these crops require durations of darkness to encourage bud formation. Protecting them in round 12 midnights each day over a number of weeks will sign to the plant that it’s time to begin producing flowers. That is simpler indoors, the place management over mild publicity is less complicated.

As soon as they begin flowering, keep away from holding the plant in low-light areas for a lot of the day. Lack of daylight will prohibit flowering and might result in a better danger of rot for those who’re not watering rigorously.


Close-up of a blooming Thanksgiving cactus in a small brown plastic pot. The plant is covered with drops of water. Thanksgiving cactus features flat, segmented leaves that are smooth and toothed along the edges. The leaves are dark green with purple-brown edges. It produces stunning tubular flowers in a soft pink hue.
These cacti thrive in moist and humid circumstances, absorbing moisture from the air and needing common watering.

Imagining a typical cactus, you could consider dry soil and little to no watering. Nonetheless, whereas these epiphytes maintain some moisture of their leaves, they’re not accustomed to the identical sandy and dry circumstances.

In moist and humid jungles, Thanksgiving cacti soak up moisture from the air and tree gaps. They respect common watering but additionally want loads of oxygen round their roots to keep away from rot and stunted development.

When you’ve planted them in the precise soil, you possibly can deal with them such as you would different epiphytes, like orchids. Give them a deep watering every time the soil begins to dry out, making certain any extra drains out the underside of the pot earlier than you change the plant.

After blooming, development slows, and your cactus received’t require as a lot consideration to remain pleased. The soil can dry out a bit extra between watering classes, mimicking the pure cycles in its native habitat.


Close-up of a woman's hands pouring fresh soil into a black plastic pot. The soil is dark brown, loose, slightly moist.
To help its epiphytic nature, this plant requires well-draining, nutrient-rich soil.

As their epiphytic roots attain into the gaps of towering bushes of their native habitats, common potting soil and even backyard soil received’t fairly match as much as their wants. A well-draining, nutrient-rich soil combine that leaves loads of air across the roots is crucial if you’d like the crops to flower or merely reside longer than a number of months.

The soil combine you select ought to be free and ethereal, permitting water to drip by whereas additionally offering sufficient retention to maintain the roots flippantly moist. My really helpful combine combines potting soil with perlite, coconut coir, and bark for a chunky and well-draining medium. You may as well use a well-draining cacti and succulent combine if you have already got some mendacity round.

Temperature and Humidity

Close-up of a blooming Thanksgiving cactus in a large gray ceramic pot, outdoors. The plant has many upright, slightly bending, flat, segmented stems that are dark green and slightly glossy. The flowers are large, tubular, bright red.
To advertise flowering, keep reasonable to heat indoor temperatures round 70°F, with barely cooler circumstances.

Temperature and humidity are very important circumstances to manage to make sure profitable flowering. Fairly than the new and dry circumstances many members of the cactus household require, the Thanksgiving cactus appreciates jungle circumstances like many different houseplants.

Indoors, this interprets to reasonable to heat temperatures and comparatively excessive humidity. Round 70F is good for constant development all year long. Fast fluctuations in temperature might confuse the plant and affect flowering time. Round Thanksgiving, barely cooler temperatures will set off flowering. 

An integral a part of holding circumstances constant is avoiding positions with frequent drafts, equivalent to these in entrance of an open window or door. Equally, hold your plant distant from heaters or air conditioners.

Humidity performs an equally pivotal position in well being. These crops thrive in excessive humidity, ideally above 50%, to match circumstances of their native habitats. They will deal with barely decrease humidity however might face development issues if the air is just too dry, together with an absence of flowers.

There are a number of tips you possibly can strive in case your indoor humidity isn’t fairly what this plant prefers. Grouping a number of crops collectively, inserting the pot on a tray full of pebbles and water, or inserting the plant in high-humidity rooms are methods to lift the ambient humidity barely.

But when your indoor air could be very dry, think about using a humidifier to make sure this plant (and another houseplants you will have) are a lot happier of their houses.


Close-up of a blooming Thanksgiving cactus in a clay pot on a wooden table indoors. The plant has long, flat, segmented stems that are dark green in color. These stems have leaf-like segments with jagged edges, slightly reminiscent of crab claws. The flowers are large, tubular in shape, with many petals that open in a star-like shape. The flowers are bicolor white and red.
To foster development and ample flowering, common fertilization is essential.

For robust development and prolific flowering in containers, an everyday fertilizing routine is crucial. Whereas good vitamin begins with good soil, your crops will nonetheless want an additional enhance to provide them every little thing they should develop and flower.

Fortunately, you don’t want something fancy – a balanced liquid fertilizer will ship every little thing the plant wants, changing any vitamins misplaced by absorption or overhead watering. Make sure you observe the really helpful dosage on the fertilizer packaging, as an extra could cause root development and stunt development fairly than enhance it.

How typically you fertilize will rely upon the product, however it’s typically greatest to use liquid fertilizer round as soon as monthly. After flowering, you can too sluggish fertilizing to provide the roots just a little break.


Close-up of a woman in a blue sweater holding a blooming Thanksgiving cactus in a white pot. Schlumbergera truncata, commonly known as the Thanksgiving cactus, features flat, segmented stems that are dark green and glossy. Thanksgiving cactus striking are its colorful and tubular flowers. These blooms are pink and they emerge from the tips of the stem segments. The flowers have multiple layers of petals, giving them a distinctive and vibrant appearance
After the blooming season, trim the cactus in spring to encourage new development and extra flowers.

As soon as the blooming season ends, a fast pruning session will assist take away any problematic areas to advertise robust development the next season. Gently trimming again the stems in spring may help promote new development, encourage branching, and, by extension, ship much more flowers every year.

Deadheading (gently eradicating spent flowers) also can assist keep the aesthetic attraction of the cactus all through the season. Not solely does this make the plant look tidier, however it additionally directs vitality towards producing new flowers.

Vigilance additionally falls underneath upkeep, notably regarding pests and ailments. Maintain a detailed eye out for annoying pests like mealybugs or widespread ailments like root rot to resolve the problem earlier than it takes over.


Thanksgiving Cactus Propagation. Close-up of stem cuttings planted in a propagation pot. These cuttings are short, flat, segmented plant stems with jagged edges. They are dark green in color with a slightly glossy texture.
Schlumbergera truncata could be simply propagated from wholesome stem cuttings, ideally with three segments.

Take Cuttings

Schlumbergera truncata is greatest propagated from stem cuttings, permitting you to increase your assortment yr after yr with out spending an additional cent. The method can also be extremely easy, even for inexperienced persons who haven’t tried houseplant propagation but.

Begin by rigorously selecting a wholesome and damage-free stem, ideally one with three segments, for the very best possibilities of rooting. Utilizing a pointy, sterilized knife or shears, make a clear minimize into the stem, making certain minimal injury to the father or mother plant and the slicing.

The subsequent step is (considerably) non-compulsory however does assist keep away from rotting in cacti and different succulent crops. Go away the segments in a cool, dry location for a day or two to permit the stem to develop a callous and heal barely earlier than planting. This barrier will restrict the possibilities of rot, growing your success price. Though it requires some endurance, it’s much better than having all of your cuttings rot earlier than they will root.

Root in Soil

As soon as the minimize finish has developed a callous, put together a small pot with a well-draining potting combine. I take advantage of a mix of coconut coir and perlite to root cuttings within the soil, however you can too add a little bit of orchid bark to spice up drainage.  

Gently insert the calloused finish of the cuttings into the soil, making certain the basis facet is down. When you plant within the fallacious orientation, there isn’t a probability your cuttings will be capable to develop roots the other way up. Water gently and place the pot in a heat space with vibrant oblique mild to advertise root development.

In a number of weeks, you must discover the slicing starting to ascertain roots, indicated by new development or resistance when flippantly tugged. Modify your care because the plant grows to supply the precise moisture and vitamins on the proper time.

Widespread Issues

This plant is beginner-friendly, however there are a number of areas the place you could journey up. Look out for these widespread issues to return your plant to good well being very quickly.

Bud Drop

Close-up of red buds on a Thanksgiving cactus. The plant has long, flat, segmented stems that are dark green in color. These leaf-like segments have jagged edges. The buds are small, cone-shaped, bright red in color, and grow on the edges of the stems.
Flower drop occurs with abrupt shifts in temperature, mild, or often humidity.

Bud drop happens on account of sudden adjustments in temperature, mild, or, much less continuously, humidity. Maintain the environmental circumstances constant, particularly throughout the budding and blooming section. Keep away from transferring the plant round when flowering. Select an excellent place for development and stick with it till flowering is full.

Root Rot

Top view, close-up of a Thanksgiving cactus in a large white old pot. The plant has long, flat, segmented leaves that act as stems. These segments have jagged edges and are dark green in color.
Poor drainage could be remedied by including perlite and orchid bark to the potting combine.

Root rot is attributable to extreme watering or, extra generally, an absence of drainage within the soil. A brand new potting combine amended with perlite and orchid bark to spice up drainage can resolve soil points.

For overwatering, alter your routine and hold the plant in a vibrant space. You might have to trim the roots again to take away the basis rot fungus and cease it from spreading.


Close-up of Mealybugs on a cactus stem. Mealybugs are small, soft-bodied insects that are white in color. They are covered in a waxy, cottony substance that can make them resemble tiny pieces of cotton or lint. Mealybugs have a segmented body with numerous legs, and they cluster in colonies, feeding on plant sap. They are small, oval-shaped, with a white, powdery coating.
Thanksgiving cacti are vulnerable to mealybugs and spider mites, which could be managed utilizing neem oil.

Mealybugs and spider mites generally plague Thanksgiving cacti. Recognized by their white, cottony look, mealybugs could be managed utilizing neem oil or insecticidal cleaning soap. Fantastic webbing between stem segments signifies a difficulty with spider mites, handled equally to mealybugs.


Close-up of a Thanksgiving cactus with discolored leaves. The plant has flat, segmented stems. These segments resemble leaves and have jagged edges. The leaves are pale green and yellowish in color.
An excessive amount of solar or inadequate watering could cause discoloration of foliage.

Discoloration typically outcomes from extreme daylight or insufficient watering. Adjusting the sunshine circumstances to keep up vibrant, oblique mild all through the day with out an excessive amount of publicity to direct solar. An everyday watering routine (in different phrases, not underneath or overwatering) also can assist flip discolored segments inexperienced once more.


Close-up of a Thanksgiving cactus with tiny buds on the edges of the stems reaching towards the sunlight. Stems are vertical, flat, segmented, dark green. These segments are smooth with jagged edges.
Stretching happens on account of inadequate mild, prompting the plant to succeed in for mild sources.

Etiolation, or stretching or elongation of the plant’s foliage, is attributable to insufficient mild. A scarcity of solar will trigger the plant to stretch out towards the closest mild supply, negatively impacting development. Transfer the container to a brighter place with out going to the other excessive. Inside a number of weeks, new development ought to return to regular, however you could need to prune again stretched areas to enhance the general look of the plant.

Continuously Requested Questions

This plant wants a number of weeks of darker days (round 12-14 hours per day) to push the plant to develop buds. In the event that they don’t obtain a lot darkness within the place they’re positioned in indoors, place the plant in a darker room to simulate brief days and lengthy nights. If it’s nonetheless not blooming and that’s not the trigger, search for variations in atmosphere.

Whereas they’re each holiday-blooming cacti, these two crops are totally different species. Essentially the most notable distinction is that they bloom at totally different instances, therefore the widespread names. Nonetheless, you can too have a look at the form of the segments to inform the distinction between the 2. The perimeters of the Thanksgiving cactus are barely serrated, whereas the Christmas cactus is clean.

As tropical crops, they will develop outdoor in heat tropical and sub-tropical areas. These in USDA zones 10 and above can get pleasure from rising these crops exterior year-round, however in different areas, it’s greatest to maintain them indoors and shielded from the chilly. Indoor areas additionally permit you to higher management their environmental circumstances, translating to improved development.

Last Ideas

Following the following tips, you’ll be capable to hold your Thanksgiving cactus pleased and (most significantly) blooming yr after yr.

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