Table of Contents
- 1 Groupings of Schlumbergera Plants
- 2 Types of Holiday Cactus Plants
- 2.1 Schlumbergera truncata (Thanksgiving cactus)
- 2.2 Schlumbergera bridgesii (Christmas cactus)
- 2.3 Schlumbergera buckleyi (Former Christmas cactus)
- 2.4 Schlumbergera “Christmas fantasy”
- 2.5 Schlumbergera gaertneri (Easter cactus)
- 2.6 Schlumbergera kautskyi
- 2.7 Schlumbergera lutea
- 2.8 Schlumbergera “Gold Charm”
- 2.9 Schlumbergera opuntioides
- 2.10 Schlumbergera Rosea
- 2.11 Schlumbergera russelliana
- 3 Holiday Cactus Care Guide
- 4 Common Problems of Christmas Cactus
- 5 FAQ
- 6 Conclusion
- 7 References
Schlumbergera is a popular genus of cactus plants, and the cacti that belong to this genus are mainly called “holiday cactus” plants.
These succulents are epiphytes and native to the tropical rainforests, including Brazil.
You may recognize them by another name called Mayflower or Flor de Maio.
There are three common holiday cactus varieties, and they are Christmas cactus, Thanksgiving cactus, and Easter cactus.
Although one can easily distinguish them by observing their leaf patterns and flowers, their growing demands are similar.
Holiday cactus varieties, nowadays, come up with a touch of different shades of color, including scarlet, red, pink, magenta, etc.
To distinguish the holiday cacti, you need to observe the blooming season because different varieties will bloom at different periods.
For instance, the Thanksgiving cactus blooms during the late autumn, while the Easter cactus produces flower buds in February and blooms during Easter. The Christmas cactus blooms in late December.
In addition to this, you can identify the varieties by observing the leaf pattern.
The leaves of the Thanksgiving cactus look like claws with hooks, and that’s why these cacti are also known as crab cactus.
The Easter cactus leaves are very smooth and have a bristled appearance, whereas the leaves of the Christmas cactus are neither very smooth like the Easter one nor have sharp edges.
In this article, we will mention the most popular types of holiday cactus that you can grow indoors.
However, before we go into the different types of Schlumbergera species, we need to discuss the 2 major groups of the Schlumbergera genus.
Looking for other types of succulents? Read further about:
Groupings of Schlumbergera Plants
There are two major groups of Schlumbergera species, and all the individual species of this genus belong to either of these two major groups.
Species belonging to the Truncata group are mainly derived from Schlumbergera truncata. The truncata group usually includes the species of Thanksgiving cactus plants.
By observing the characteristics of crab cactus plants, you can easily identify the varieties in this group.
Holiday cactus varieties of this group are mainly derived from Schlumbergera Russelliana. These varieties have symmetrical flowers and rounded teeth on the stems.
These species produce flowers later than the Truncata species, and hence, these species are specially called the Christmas cactus plants.
Types of Holiday Cactus Plants
There are many types of holiday cactus plants that can add a splash of color to any garden indoors or outdoors.
Whether you are looking for the well-known Thanksgiving cactus or the famous Christmas cactus, there are other types of Schlumbergera plants to consider.
Below are some of the most popular types of Schlumbergera cactus plants to grow.
Schlumbergera truncata (Thanksgiving cactus)
The Schlumbergera truncata species is called the Thanksgiving cactus, which is similar to the Christmas and Easter cactus.
People often confuse this species with the other two, but there are differences.
You can easily identify Thanksgiving varieties with their tooth-like notches across the leaves.
Also, the Thanksgiving cactus blooms deep pink, red, white, and bright orange flowers with yellow pollen during the late autumn, especially from Thanksgiving till Christmas.
Remember that if the temperature falls below 60 degrees Fahrenheit, these cacti will set flower buds .
These plants are also called False Christmas cactus, Lobster cactus, Crab cactus, or Claw cactus because of their pointed and saw-like edges.
They prefer to grow in partial shade. Exposing them to the direct sun for a longer period of time may not be a good option.
Also, if you notice that the temperature in your region has fallen below 30 degrees Fahrenheit, then move them indoors.
A humid environment is often recommended for growing these cacti. We recommend you keep the humidity level at at least 50%.
The ideal temperature range is considered to be between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
Schlumbergera bridgesii (Christmas cactus)
Schlumbergera bridgesii is a new hybrid that is derived from the buckleyi group. This is commonly known as the Christmas cactus (new).
You can differentiate this variety from the Thanksgiving cactus by identifying the less pointed teeth at the leaf edges.
Also, the Christmas cactus blooms in late December. The flowers of these cacti have pink, orange, white, or red petals.
This specimen has a confusing appearance because many people often become confused with Schlumbergera buckleyi, which is known as the former variety of Christmas cactus.
Like most other species, these cacti prefer dark nights and shady, warm areas.
The temperature should be kept between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit, and the humidity level should be more than 50%.
Feed these plants when new growth is noticed. You can also fertilize them when the flower blooms.
These cacti bloom till January, so you can keep fertilizing them with organic fertilizer. Remember that these cacti cannot tolerate waterlogged conditions.
You should use well-drained potting soil and make drainage holes beneath the pots to facilitate the drainage condition.
Schlumbergera buckleyi (Former Christmas cactus)
Schlumbergera buckleyi is the parent or former version of the Christmas cactus. It is also known as the “true Christmas cactus.”
This specimen is a hybrid between Schlumbergera truncata and Schlumbergera russelliana cactus.
This specimen can be found across the South American tropical forests.
These Christmas hybrid cacti prefer partial shady areas. We suggest you keep them near an east-facing window while growing them indoors.
The temperatures should be cold. Due to their cascading nature, you can grow them in a hanging basket.
Since these are native to the tropical region, they need a moderate level of humidity.
The flowers of this cactus plant have pink pollen and bloom around the Christmas holiday season (from the middle of November to February).
The flowers have a trumpet shape and appear at the end of the stems. You can feed these plants with organic fertilizer during this flowering season.
Schlumbergera “Christmas fantasy”
Schlumbergera “Christmas Fantasy” or “Xmas Fantasy” is one of the most wonderful types of Christmas cactus on this list. This variety produces fascinating blooms that have salmon or light pink colors.
Remember that this type of holiday cactus is a hybrid between Thanksgiving and Christmas cactus.
The leaves of Christmas fantasy resemble those of the Thanksgiving cactus.
Hence, you may easily get confused by considering a variety of Thanksgiving cacti.
However, these cacti produce flowers in late December, and this characteristic is similar to that of the true Christmas cactus plants.
The growing demands of this hybrid are similar to those of the other Holiday cactus varieties.
Schlumbergera gaertneri (Easter cactus)
Schlumbergera gaertneri is commonly known as Easter cactus, Spring cactus, or Whitsun cactus. It is considered a cousin of other holiday cactus plants.
To identify this specimen, you need to be careful and observe the leaves and flowers.
These plants have smooth and rounded leaves and produce flowers during the spring months.
Formerly, this specimen was known as Hatiora gaertneri, belonging to the cactus family, Cactaceae.
The flowering period of this cactus plant is between early spring and mid-summer (early February to May). The flowers have beautiful pink stamens and star-shaped petals.
Like the other varieties, this cactus plant prefers indirect sunlight, cool temperatures, and a humid environment.
Prepare a sterile potting mix for growing them in a potting mix. Sterile potting soil will make sure that there is less risk of infection.
Make sure that the growing environment has relatively cool temperatures.
Schlumbergera kautskyi is a popular type of Christmas cactus. It comes up with beautiful purple buds with dark purple stamens.
The stems act as the main photosynthetic organs. You will see tooth-like shapes along the edges, and at the end of the stems, wonderful purple flowers hang in the middle of November.
This cactus grows best in a bright, sunny but indirect location. Don’t keep them under the bright sun as intense sunlight can damage the beautiful stems. It prefers dark nights, indicating the winter months.
As a tropical plant, it needs warm and cool temperatures and moderate humidity. Water this plant regularly to keep the soil evenly moist.
Schlumbergera lutea is another flowering cactus specimen that is popular mainly because of its bright golden yellow flowers.
Schlumbergera “Gold Charm” is another variety that is similar to Schlumbergera lutea. This type of Schlumbergera has flattened, light green, and pendant stems.
These plants are widely distributed across southeast Brazil. This plant produces bright yellow flowers from the spring to mid summer.
The growing environment should be the same as the other Christmas cacti.
During the flowering season, you may feed them with liquid organic fertilizer to boost the new growth and flower buds.
Schlumbergera “Gold Charm”
Schlumbergera “Gold Charm” is a wonderful variety of Christmas cactus that can be found in the Brazilian rainforest.
This plant is grown mainly for its trumpet-shaped, showy, bright golden yellow flowers.
This cactus plant bears 2.5-inch long yellowish flowers during the holiday season in winter.
The flowers of the Christmas gold cactus may change their color to pink if the temperature falls below 57 degrees Fahrenheit.
You should keep it near a bright location that receives indirect sunlight. Water it moderately, and make sure that the surface soil stays moist.
The potting medium should be well-drained. For repotting, you need to remove the plant with a soil ball and plant it elsewhere.
Schlumbergera opuntioides is a unique specimen of holiday cactus and belongs to the same genus as Thanksgiving and Christmas cactus.
It can be easily identified by its flat stems. The stem has several tooth-shaped materials.
You will see beautiful purple flowers blooming in mid November. This specimen is widely distributed across the coastal mountains of Brazil.
Each of the stem segments of this plant may reach up to 2.8 inches in length and 1.2 inches in width.
The entire plant can grow to be 4 feet tall. Like the other cacti, Schlumbergera opuntioides cactus plants need bright but indirect sun.
The temperature should be maintained at 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit. It cannot tolerate waterlogged conditions, so you should try making at least one drainage hole beneath the pot.
Schlumbergera rosea is also known as the Rose Easter cactus, and it has a unique appearance with pendent and joint stems.
The pale pink and large, vibrant flowers are the main attractions of these plants.
The flowers are funnel-like and have pink stamens at the base of the perianth. This flowering cactus plant is native to the Brazilian rainforest.
It enjoys indirect sunlight. Exposure to direct sunlight for a prolonged period can damage the leaves.
The potting soil should be well drained. You can either buy a cactus potting mix or prepare one yourself.
The ideal temperatures for growing them are 60-65 degrees Fahrenheit.
During the blooming season, you should feed them with liquid fertilizer to help them bloom more.
Schlumbergera russelliana is another ornamental cactus that has green stems with notches along the edges.
Each segment is approximately 1.5 inches long and 1 inch wide. This specimen is native to Brazil.
This epiphytic plant produces wonderful, long, and pink-colored flowers during the holiday season, especially from late autumn to early winter.
This plant produces similar flowers to the Easter cactus, but there are differences. It needs bright sunlight but not direct light.
Cooler temperatures are preferred. The humidity level should be maintained at around 50%.
Schlumbergera russelliana plants need a well-drained potting mix to thrive.
Holiday Cactus Care Guide
Holiday cactus plants are quite easy to grow, and in this section, we will briefly discuss the growing demands of common holiday cacti because all three varieties have similar requirements.
These cacti are not desert plants, so you don’t have to worry about their lighting conditions. As tropical plants, Christmas cactus species enjoy indirect sunlight.
These are epiphytic succulents, which means that they grow on rocks and trees.
While growing them indoors, just make sure that their growing spots are well-lit and away from the direct sun.
We suggest you keep them near the east-facing window.
Temperature and Humidity
Holiday cactus plants prefer to grow in a cooler environment. The ideal temperature range for growing them is considered to be between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
In tropical forests, this temperature is average. Regarding the humidity, these plants enjoy a moderately humid area.
We suggest you keep the humidity level at 50–60%. During the summer, if the air becomes too dry, you can mist the plants to increase the humidity level.
Since all types of Christmas cactus plants grow on other trees, their growing medium is mainly planted debris.
However, if you want to grow these beautiful plants in pots, you need to mix plant debris with garden soil.
Make sure that the potting medium is well-aerated. Avoid using heavy clay to prepare the growing medium because this soil will create a waterlogged condition, which will suffocate the roots.
Water and Fertilizer
Christmas cacti need regular watering because they are native to subtropical and tropical regions. They grow best when the growing medium stays moist (but not wet).
Don’t let the soil completely dry out, as this condition will stunt the growth.
Remember that you should water Christmas cacti, Thanksgiving cacti, and Easter cacti carefully because these plants neither tolerate overwatering nor underwatering.
During the winter months, you can reduce the frequency of watering.
To feed these cacti, you can either apply organic fertilizers or inorganic ones. If you go for the inorganic fertilizers, make sure there is a sufficient amount of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.
You may blend these nutrients in an equal quantity (20-20-20). Feed your holiday cactus sparingly in winter.
From April to October, when new growth is usually seen, you can start to feed the plant again.
Once they have reached maturity, you can repot Christmas cactus every four years or less.
Despite the fact that root-bound plants can be difficult to repot – your Christmas cactus actually loves to be bound to its pot.
You may be doing more harm than good to your plant if you repot it frequently as they may also develop more slowly if repotted more frequently than usual.
In fact, you would be shocked at how much more a root-bound Christmas cactus blooms more flowers. This is because this plant prefers dense root growth.
For more information on repotting holiday cactus plants, read our related post:
Propagating Christmas cacti is easy. Either sow the seeds or use stem cutting.
Propagation with seeds is harder than with the stem cutting method because, in this process, you will have to wait and work patiently.
For the stem cutting method, you need to cut from the tip of the stem segments. A Y-shaped cut is always preferred.
Try taking one of the joint segments because it will ensure that the cutting is alright.
Leave the cutting so that it may rest for a few hours. After that, you can directly plant it into the growing medium.
Common Problems of Christmas Cactus
There are two common problems that you may encounter while growing these cacti, and both of these problems are associated with fungal infections.
It takes place when the potting soil remains damp for a longer period. One can easily identify this problem by easily identifying brownish spots at the stem base.
Slowly, these spots can be seen even in the upper segments of the stem. Most of the time, this problem is fatal because the only way to fix it is to cut out the whole affected area.
It happens when the roots stay under waterlogged conditions for a prolonged period. At first, you will notice a weak and soggy appearance and black roots.
If the condition persists, then the plant will slowly die. However, you can easily save the cactus if you can identify the disease earlier.
Remove the excess moisture as soon as you notice the spots. You can also treat the root ball with hydrogen peroxide if you notice a fungal infection.
What is the lifespan of Christmas cacti?
The lifespan of Christmas cactus plants can be at least 25 years. If you take care of your Christmas cactus, it can last even longer. In fact, there are some known Christmas cacti that can live up to 100 years or more.
Should I trim Christmas cacti?
Yes, you can trim these Christmas cactus plants. About a month after blooming, prune your Christmas cactus to help shape and grow larger and bushier plants. However, do not ever prune a Christmas cactus beyond late spring.
What is the Holiday cactus blooming period?
The holiday cactus blooming period will depend on the specific species of holiday cactus. Thanksgiving cactus is the earliest and longest bloomer, producing flowers typically from late October through mid-winter. Christmas cacti typically bloom between early and midwinter, while Easter cacti bloom between late spring to mid-summer.
How many times should I water the Holiday cactus?
Water holiday cactus plants every 2 to 3 weeks, or only if the top portion of the soil is dry. When you do water your plant, ensure that your water your plant evenly and let the excess water drain through the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot.
In summary, these are the most popular and beautiful holiday cacti that you can grow in your indoor or outdoor garden.
However, there are many Christmas cacti except the above-mentioned species, and they are the White Christmas cactus, Dark Marie, Dark Eva, and so on.
Each of these plants comes with different flowers, including purple, bright pink, yellow, golden, and creamy white flowers. Because of their lower demands, you can easily take care of these plants.
Lindsey Hyland grew up in Arizona where she studied at the University of Arizona’s Controlled Environment Agriculture Center. She continued her gardening education by working on organic farms in both rural and urban settings. She started UrbanOrganicYield.com to share gardening tips and tactics. She’s happy to talk about succulents and houseplants or vegetables and herbs – or just about anything in a backyard garden or hydroponics garden.