Christmas or Thanksgiving Cactus?

Cactus 2Right “on time” our Christmas cactus is blooming, as it has the past three years since our neighbors, Greg and Luci, presented the seasonal gift to us.

Although we profess to be gardeners, I can tell you that I have a long history of killing anything green and growing indoors, except for the standard philodendron.

(And I’ve come VERY close to killing those, too.)

I did a little research, and found that the Christmas cactus is one of the Schlumbergera (say that three times) genus of cacti, growing in the coastal mountains of south-eastern Brazil. There is a second type called a Thanksgiving cacus, that blooms in the fall, and a third, Easter or Whitsun cactus (blooming at Easter).

On the linkedwebsite, someone posted a question about why her Christmas cactus blooms near Thanksgiving, and that’s when I learned there are two types! The cactus needs the shorter days with less light to inspire the blooming period to begin. In my experience, they survive largely on neglect (That’s why we are Master Cactus Gardeners.) and a little water. I read extensively about how they should be watered every 10 days and thrive on humidity, so I guess Roger does a lot more behind-the-scenes care than I knew.

I have linked to a great description of how to propagate the Christmas cactus. I will have to wait until the early spring to do this because the plant should not be actively blooming. Jeremy likes to give “to do” advice, so my “to do” advice will be to look for a good sale on holiday gold or silver pots/buckets in January. Or stock up on gold or silver spray paint.   Also, look for the end-of-holiday Christmas cactus that needs some love.

I’m going to set a reminder on my calendar to try propagating the Christmas cactus in April. That’s going to be an adventure, and it will make a terrific personal gift next year. Maybe I’ll give a “baby” to Greg and Luci!Cactus 1

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