How To Identify Your Holiday Cactus

This is a chart to tell you the difference in the types of holiday cactus.

Cactus in bud and you can clearly see the bud and tip of leaves.

Thanksgiving cactus in bloom

The kind of holiday cactus is always a discussion around the upcoming season. Do I have a Christmas Cactus, Thanksgiving cactus, or mine is not coming into bloom (which means it is neither of the popular types or not tricked to come into bloom)? Well, I found the chart above that I hope will help you correctly name the types you grow. Now these plants are easy to grow if kept slightly on the dry side (not over watering), but to get them some bloom, they like a cool period. Each year, I grow mine on our back porch and all summer until a freezing temperature is predicted. The one in the images showing buds was brought into the basement (with windows) several weeks ago. Generally every year mine have had enough cold to have bud formation before I bring them in. Now if you keep yours indoors all the time, move it to the coolest room in the house that has some natural light. If you are not using this room often, I would also cut off the HVAC vents in that room to promote the plant to form flower buds. Once the buds form, expect blooms in 4-6 weeks. Remember if the plants get too dry or too wet they will drop their buds. I water mine lightly once a week since they are in a cool space, but I always touch the soil before I water to make sure the soil is not damp before I water. As for light, my mother-in-law grows hers brought in from outdoors beautifully in her foyer that has little sunlight, but she supplements the natural light with a lamp directly over the plants. Hers are alway stunning. So remember no matter what type holiday cactus you have, cool temperatures, not over watering, and light are the keys to blooming.

John Floyd

John Floyd has been gardening--and learning about Birmingham area gardening--for more than 30 years. In addition to his day-to-day experience, John has degrees in horticulture from Auburn and Clemson Universities and was Editor-in-Chief of Southern Living.

2 thoughts on “How To Identify Your Holiday Cactus

    • On removing the old leaves it depends on who you ask. Some do it after we have a hard freeze. I generally wait until after the first of the year but before they come into bloom. As for fertilization I recommend after flowering when the blooms are producing the seed pods in the center of the old blooms with something like 15-0-15 lightly.

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