How to Grow Christmas & Thanksgiving Cactuses

by Monica Resinger

I love Christmas and Thanksgiving cactuses. These plants are so easy to take care of. The flowers are gorgeous, come in an array of colors, and come right when we need them — usually when it’s cold and flowerless outdoors. A houseplant that flowers and doesn’t take much to take care of is a big plus in my book! They can be grown in hanging baskets or regular pots.

My Christmas and Thanksgiving cactus bloom every year now. They didn’t always before. The main difference has been that my plants have become root bound. The other difference is temperature — they like it cool so I moved mine to a cooler area of the house. If they get too warm, the buds will fall off. I’d say 68* or under is what they prefer. A south-facing window with filtered light also helps, and only an occasional feeding when they are actively growing. I think where people go wrong with these is giving them too much attention. Too much water will cause them to die. Let the plant dry between waterings to the point where the leaves start to shrivel. This is all I do to my cactuses, and they bloom reliably every year. Sometimes they even give me a second show!

These plants can last you a lifetime! My grandma has a plant that has been in the family for over 60 years! Two of my three plants are plants made from taking cuttings from hers. Let me tell you how to do that.

It’s very easy to propagate Christmas and Thanksgiving Cactuses. All you need is a small pot of moist potting soil, a Christmas or Thanksgiving cactus to take a cutting from and rooting hormone is helpful, but not necessary. Simply clip off a four-segment piece; dip the cut end into rooting hormone if desired, then push the cut end into the soil about an inch or so. From there, the only thing you have to do is be sure the soil stays moist. It will stay moist longer if you prop a see through plastic bag over it. To do this, you can insert a popsicle stick into the soil, then drape the plastic over that. Rooted and growing cuttings of these make wonderful gifts to friends and family. Put them in a pretty pot and attach a bow and card then they’re ready to give!

There’s a difference between Thanksgiving Cactus and Christmas Cactus. Christmas cactus segments are scalloped and Thanksgiving cactus segments are toothed. Well, that is what I know about growing Thanksgiving and Christmas cactus. I hope it will help you in growing yours!

Copyright ©, 2000, Monica Resinger
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