Q. I found out that my Christmas cactus is actually a Thanksgiving cactus. Is it true that care is different?
I only get minimal blooms.
The true Christmas cactus is Schlumbergera x buckleyi which typically blooms in December, has purple anthers (the part of the plant that contains the pollen) and has been available for many years. More recently, Schlumbergera truncata, in particular, has been widely produced and sold as Christmas cactus, holiday cactus or Thanksgiving cactus.
Holiday cactus is an apt name, as these plants tend to bloom from November to January. They can also be differentiated from S. x buckleyi by the sharper points to their serrated leaves and their yellow anthers. You should still get great flowering as long as you observe the right schedule of rest and active growth. Otherwise, care is the same.
Your Thanksgiving cactus typically flowers between late November to January. During the flowering period, keep temperatures above 60°F and water normally. Your cactus then needs a rest period for about two months following the period when flowers are on the plant. During this time the cactus should be watered less frequently and kept relatively cool (around 55°F).
Around April, you can increase water, temperature and re-start your feeding program. About two months before bloom-time (mid-September), keep your plant dryish and cool again until buds form, at which point you can resume regular watering. Do not expose your cactus to light (including lamp light) after dark during this period.
If you are not seeing many flowers, it is most likely that one of these steps has been missed in its yearly routine. The timing is driven by flowering time so you can take it from your cactus to prompt you to begin the cycle.
You can find out more about caring for tropical cacti in our Guide to Cacti Indoors.
Courtesy of NYBG Plant Information Service
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