How To Tell Christmas Cactus

If you and a friend are betting on whether a flowering holiday cactus you bought at the grocery store is a Christmas, Thanksgiving, or (less likely) Easter cactus, you might simply want to call a draw.

Because depending on the flowering season and where you reside, marketers use these names for a variety of different plants. And depending on when it is sold, the same plant may be given any of those names.

The same variety, for instance, can be offered as a Christmas cactus in Canada while being sold as a Thanksgiving cactus in the United States. Why? Since Thanksgiving is celebrated early in October in Canada, the term Christmas makes more sense to customers by the time these plants are budding and blooming in November.

And because of this, it is preferable to refer to plants by their scientific names rather than local common names or promotional words in order to save your friendship. Even while there will still be some difficult-to-identify species, taxonomical changes, and scholarly conflicts, at least with botanical names we can start to use the same terminology.

I’ve also seen Christmas cactus plants marked with the incorrect botanical name, which is not surprising given that they are mass-produced for holiday customers, to round off the picture.

Check the Leaves

To identify holiday cactus, the most typical advice is to examine the shape of the leaves. While we refer to them as “leaves,” they are actually modified branches known as cladodes or “clades. If distinct, it’s a fantastic indicator, but again, there are many varieties that can fool even the most observant and skilled gardener. More details are available (below).

Observe the Blooms

Similar flowers (in a variety of colors) are produced by Schlumbergeras (see below), with a few minor variations, such as pollen colors.

Schlumbergeras have a very different flower development than Rhipsalidopsis (Easter Cactus), which is why it is rarely brought up in discussion.

The good news is that all of these plants require the same level of care, regardless of what they are (see Holiday Cactus Care Guide here).

What symptoms indicate a Christmas cactus?

The holiday season has here, which not only calls for decorations but also festive plants! At this time of year, there are many lovely holiday plants to pick from, whether they are bought from a florist, nursery, or are grown at home. The Christmas cactus is one of the most popular plants to give or receive at this time of year. Or is it a Thanksgiving or Easter cactus?

The three cacti differ from one another in terms of how their leaves are shaped. The edges of the leaves of the Thanksgiving cactus (Schlumgera truncata) are very sharply pointed and shaped like claws. The leaf projections of the Christmas cactus (Schlumgera bridgesti) are more scalloped or teardrop shaped. The edges of the leaves of the Easter cactus (Rhipsalidopsis gaertnerrii) are extremely rounded and centered.

These three cacti are all classified as short-day plants. Therefore, the plant needs low temperatures and 12–24 hours of darkness in order to bloom. If you overwintered your plant outside or bought it from a florist or nursery, you should keep it in a cold, dark place until the buds appear. The optimum location is an infrequently used bedroom or lower level. The Easter cactus gets its name from the fact that it takes 8–12 weeks of short days to bloom as opposed to the Christmas and Thanksgiving cacti’s roughly six weeks. It can be brought into a warmer environment once the buds start to form for your enjoyment. At this stage, a plant may occasionally start to lose its buds. That might be caused by air currents, warm temperatures, an abundance of water, or direct sunlight. Bright light is good for the plants, but not direct sunlight. Before watering, the soil should be completely dry to one inch below the surface. Fertilizing or repotting shouldn’t be done when the plant is in bloom. The plants appear to thrive when they are root-bound.

You might see the Christmas and Thanksgiving cactus bloom once more in the spring, though perhaps not as lavishly as over the holiday season. Simply restore the plant to its short day settings to promote springtime blooming.

Unless they are overwatered, these plants are generally disease-free. If the plant turns crimson, there is either too much sun, not enough phosphorus, or not enough water. There are rumors of plants that have been passed down from generation to generation for more than a century. Take advantage of these easygoing holiday plants and establish a new gardening custom. Call the Linn County Master Gardener Hortline at 319-447-0647 with any and all of your gardening inquiries.

What kind of Christmas cactus do I have, and how do I know?

Your cactus can be identified by its leaf form. The leaves of the Thanksgiving cactus (Schlumbergera truncata) have sharp protrusions that resemble crab claws. The leaves of the Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera bridgesti) have rounded or teardrop-shaped projections.

What three varieties of Christmas cacti are there?

Thanksgiving cactus, Christmas cactus, and Easter cactus are the three popular holiday cacti, each of which is called after the season in which its blooms occur. All three are straightforward to cultivate and have comparable growth patterns and maintenance needs.

Today’s holiday cactus variations are available in magenta, pink, scarlet, as well as yellow, white, orange, purple, salmon, and apricot, however these well-known cacti are typically only available in red-hued hues. The Thanksgiving and Christmas cacti are tropical rain forest species, while the Easter cactus is indigenous to Brazil’s natural woods. All three are endemic to Brazil.

What color are the leaves on a Christmas cactus?

Unbelievably, you might have a Thanksgiving-themed cactus rather than a Christmas-themed one! Despite having extremely similar appearances, the two plants are distinct.

Unfortunately, the fact that these Christmas succulents are sometimes mislabeled at garden centers contributes to the confusion between them. Furthermore, the misunderstanding is exacerbated by the fact that they both bloom in the late fall or early winter. But it’s good to know which one you actually possess. How to tell them apart is as follows:

Thanksgiving Cactus (Schlumbergera truncata)

The Thanksgiving cactus’ leaves can be used to distinguish it from the Christmas cactus. The leaf segments, or “phylloclades,” have pointed spines and are serrated or “toothed,” with 2-4 on each side.

Because of this, these succulents are known as “Crab Claw Cactus.” The final segment’s end has a point on either side and a little concavity.

Thanksgiving cactus flowers are created at the tips or the point where the leaf segments converge. They look like a long tube, like a flower inside a flower.

They normally bloom around Thanksgiving and come in a variety of hues, mostly pastels, such as red, pink, peach, purple, orange, or white.

Observe the pollen-bearing anthers as well.

Christmas cactus anthers are pink to purplish-brown, and Thanksgiving cactus anthers are yellow.

Christmas Cactus (Schlumbergera bridgesii)

The Christmas cactus has leaves with a more rounded, scalloped edge. Although each segment’s tip has a small curvature, they can appear practically straight across.

Christmas cactus blooms often bloom in December and are pink or white. But if you notice flowers on these plants between March and May, don’t be alarmed.

Easter Cactus

Unbelievably, there is also an Easter cactus (Hatiora gaertneri), and you got it, it blooms in April. The leaves of these succulents feature a strong ridge on one side and tiny bristles.

The flowers are more shaped like stars. They originated in Brazil’s native, temperate woodlands. Although this cactus is significantly more susceptible to over- or under-watering, use caution when watering it.

What distinguishes a real Christmas cactus from a fake Christmas cactus?

My mother used to refer to her Christmas cactus as a Thanksgiving cactus since it would be fully bloomed by the end of November when I was a child. I was a good boy and never questioned or challenged Mom. Mom was correct, and that was twenty or so years and a couple advanced degrees later. Schlumbergera truncata, the well-liked plant that is currently showing up in garden centers for the holiday season, is also known as the Thanksgiving or false Christmas cactus.

We must delve farther into the passionate love affair with the Christmas cactus in order to overcome this deceit. When we turn the clock 177 years back to 1840s England, we find William Buckley, a committed gardener, and his experiment of a Schlumbergera hybrid between two species. He combined S. truncata with S. russelliana to produce the S. x buckleyi hybrid, which was known as the real Christmas cactus. As you read this at home, you might be tempted to quickly explore the internet. If you do, you might find some outdated literature that refers to this cross incorrectly as S. bridgesii, which would add another degree of dishonesty. There are certainly some older works of literature that use Zygocactus as the genus.

You need to know a few more things at this point because you are horrifiedly staring at your fake Christmas cactus and unsure of where to look for the real one. You need to know a little bit about botany and it is difficult to pick out the imposters. The Schlumbergera’s “leaves” are actually flattened stalks known as cladophyll (phylloclades by some botanist). The faux Christmas cactus will have stems with an open branch habit and soft points or teeth around the borders. These points are simply a part of the stem that is heavily lobed; they are not spines. False Christmas cactus flowers will be cheerful and vibrant in hues of pink, white, peach, and salmon. They will be held for around 5 to 7 days at the tip of the stems, pointing slightly upward. Additionally, the blossoms will appear somewhat horizontal or flat. The stems of the genuine Christmas cactus will significantly arch downward and have a closed habit. The stems will have rounded edges with tiny, discernible points or nubs. The blossoms of a genuine Christmas cactus will be more spherical than those of an impostor, point downward, and follow the stem’s orientation. Reds, pinks, and carmine will be the colors.

You might come across the Easter cactus Rhipsalidopsis gaeteneri, a close relative of Schlumbergera as you go out on your quest to find the genuine Christmas cactus. You’ll be relieved to learn that they are rarely provided and have little financial significance in the garden retail sector. Additionally, as their name suggests, they bloom in the spring. However, if you do come upon one, what’s another plant, right?

Last but not least, I’m sure you read this article and only glanced at the genus name since, like me, you find it difficult to say (shlum-BER-ger-uh), and I doubt that did anything to assist. Just some quick information The Cactaceae family of real cactus includes the Schlumbergera, which thrives in environments that we typically do not connect with cacti. They inhabit trees like orchids and are found deep within South America’s tropical rainforest.

Wishing you luck on your exploration and do let me know if you add a genuine Christmas cactus to your collection.

What kind of plant resembles a Christmas cactus?

Years ago, I lost this plant, but I’d like to get another one. It resembles a massive Christmas cactus, however it just once bloomed for me. Before the plant began to blossom, I had it for nearly 4 years. My spouse referred to it as my “weed.” The flower is fuschia/red in hue. The only two images I have of it in bloom are the ones I’m including.

These are Epiphyllum, the orchid cactus, which is distinguished by its incredibly beautiful and vividly colored blossoms. Imagine them developing in a jungle, high in the treetops, in full bloom, in their natural environment.

Are there various types of Christmas cacti?

It’s time to party, have fun, and be merry during the holidays. As a result, this is a season associated with decorations. We make an effort to make our homes appear better overall, whether we’re talking about Christmas or any other holiday. What better way to accomplish this than by utilizing eye-catching plants like the Christmas cactus? Christmas cacti, sometimes referred to as holiday cacti, are popular seasonal plants that come in many varieties based on their growth patterns and blooming seasons.

Which of the following three Christmas cacti can you plant indoors? There are three primary varieties of Christmas cactus (holiday cactus): Schlumbergera truncata, Schumbelgera bridgesii, and Rhipsalidopsis gaertnerii. These three varieties of holiday cactus differ from one another in terms of leaf shape and flowering season. While Schlumbergera truncata possesses clear-cut, notably pointed edge projections, Rhipsalidopsis gaertnerii has distinctly rounded edges. On the other hand, the Schumbelgera bridgesii has leaf projections that are teardrop-shaped or scalloped.

This article aims to deconstruct the distinctive qualities and traits of the numerous kinds of Christmas or festive cacti. It will consider their development patterns, habitat needs, and flowering times.

How often does a Christmas cactus bloom each year?

Whichever one you have, it’s possible for them to bloom more than once a year. For Your Reference, Here Are A Few Of Our General Houseplant Guides: Watering Indoor Plants: A Guide.

How can you tell whether a Christmas cactus is a certain color?

One of the most vibrant flowering houseplants is the Christmas cactus. When the days become shorter, this low-maintenance plant blooms and puts on a spectacular display over the holiday season. Christmas cacti come in a broad range of hues, including pink, red, crimson, orange, gold, cream, and white, as well as bicolors, in which a single flower displays many hues simultaneously.

This easy-to-grow flowering houseplant has been a beloved holiday decoration for many years. In fact, a lovely Christmas cactus has evolved into something of a family heirloom, being handed down down the decades.

Christmas cacti are magnificent holiday plants when they are in bloom, with their vibrant flowers shining like diamonds at the ends of their stems. Christmas cacti display jagged foliage when not in flower the rest of the year, lending credence to one of their other common names, crab cactus.

Nota: The Christmas cactus is sometimes referred to as the Thanksgiving or zygo cactus.

Questions about Christmas Cactus? Send us an email if you have any inquiries concerning your Christmas cactus. An expert from our team will be pleased to attempt to assist!

Christmas Cactus Growing Instructions

For the most blooms, grow Christmas cacti in direct sunlight. It may also grow in low or medium light, however the darker it gets, the less blossoms this beautiful houseplant produces. Christmas cacti can tolerate direct sunlight on their leaves inside.

When the top inch or two of the potting mix get dry, water the Christmas cactus. In comparison to fall and winter, spring and summer are when it prefers a little more water.

Christmas cactus should be fertilized with a houseplant-specific fertilizer in the spring and early summer. For information on how much fertilizer to use and how frequently to apply it, refer to the instructions on the product container.

Christmas cactus requires ordinary to high humidity because it is native to tropical rainforests. While Christmas cactus can handle low humidity levels, you might discover that it thrives and blooms more when the humidity is higher.

The Christmas cactus thrives at ordinary temperatures, although milder fall temps of roughly 55F (13C) can encourage it to bloom.