The so-called Christmas cactus is an easy plant to grow and propagate, and it blooms around the holidays. Not necessarily the Christmas holidays, though. Why, if it’s called Christmas cactus, does it usually bloom closer to Thanksgiving?

In fact, you may have a Thanksgiving cactus. They are two different plants, but Thanksgiving cactus is often mistakenly sold as Christmas cactus. You can tell the two plants apart because the Thanksgiving cactus has pointed claws or teeth on each of its leaf segments while the Christmas cactus leaf segments are scalloped and lack teeth.

With both plants (botanical name Schlumbergera), the bloom is initiated both by a drop in temperatures to about 55 degrees and the shorter periods of daylight. If you provide heat and leave the lights on in a room containing these plants in early to mid fall, you will delay the bloom.

Propagating either plant is simple. Find a healthy leaf, cut off three segments at the narrowest point, let it dry out for six to 24 hours, then stick it into moist potting soil. Keep the soil evenly moist and give the pot lots of light. After three or four weeks, tug gently on one of the leaves. If it comes out, stick it back in the soil but if it resists, that means it’s rooted. Once the leaf roots, you’ve got a new plant.

The blooms are so pretty, you’ll enjoy it, no matter when it blooms.


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