A vast array of bloom colors in the holiday cactus category

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 3, 2022


oliday cactus is often received as a gift over the Christmas holidays. Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter cactus are often grouped into the term “holiday cactus” category because of the confusion of the different cultivars. Their major differences are bloom times and leaf structure. Most of what’s blooming now are Thanksgiving cactus. These regained popularity due to the vast array of bloom colors ranging from yellow, salmon, pink, fuchsia and white to various combinations of those colors. One of the amazing features of this plant is its long life. These plants can live well over 100 years!

Native to Brazil, humidity is very important requirement for proper growth and development. Locate your cactus in a cool room with high humidity with bright, indirect light. It should be allowed to rest after blooming by reducing water enough to just keep the plant alive. Avoid fertilization at this time.

Move the holiday plant outdoors when danger of frost is over for maximum growth locating them in an area with bright, filtered light. Treat the plant as you would a normal houseplant — feeding and watering on a regular basis for growth and development.

These plants require cool temperatures to induce blooms. The Christmas cactus bloom cycle is very similar to a poinsettia requiring periods of darkness to induce bloom. When flower buds start to form, limit fertilizers, but continue to water the plant sufficiently to keep the leaves from shrinking. The holiday cactus flowers best if it is kept in a pot bound container. It is very possible for the plant flower several times throughout the year if the plant has proper care and placement for light.

Go to https://plants.ces.ncsu.edu/plants/schlumbergera-truncata/ for more detailed information about holiday cactus.

Darrell Blackwelder is the retired horticulture agent and director with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service in Rowan County. Contact him at deblackw@ncsu.edu.