Holiday Cactus

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 Schlumbergera -various- subsp. var.  Holiday Cactus, Christmas Cactus, Easter Cactus, Crab cactus
Thanksgiving Cactus in bloom
Habit: cacti-succulent
Height: to
Width: to
12in 12in24in
Height: warning.png"" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki. to 12 in
Width: 12 in to 24 in
Lifespan: perennial
Bloom: early spring, mid spring, early fall, mid fall, late fall
Exposure: shade
Water: moderate
Features: flowers, foliage
Hidden fields, interally pass variables to right place
Minimum Temp: °Fwarning.png"°F" is not a number.
USDA Zones: 10 to 12
Sunset Zones:
Flower features: red, orange, yellow, pink, white, double
Cactaceae > Schlumbergera -various- var. ,

The common holiday cacti (Thanksgiving Cactus, Christmas Cactus, Easter Cactus) comprise several closely related species in the genus Schlumbergera and the species Hatiora gaertneri, often called Zygocactus in older works. They are originally forest cacti, growing as epiphytes at elevations between 1000 and 1700 meters (3300 to 5600 feet) above sea level in southeast Brazil.

Many modern holiday cactus cultivars are hybrids between Schlumbergera truncata and S. russelliana, first bred about 150 years ago in England.

These plants are named after the holidays because these times coincide with the time of year when they will bloom naturally in the Northern hemisphere. The Easter Cactus blooms in the spring and the Christmas cactus blooms in the winter.

The flowers produced are red or pink or white and can produce massive numbers of blooms on a single plant. The flowers open in daylight and then close in the evening.

To distinguish between the Easter and Christmas cactus when there are no blooms you can look at the leaves. The Christmas has more rounded notches on the margins compared with the more spikey Easter Cactus.

Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture

Zygocactus truncatus, Schum. (Epiphyllum truncatum, Haw.). Crab Cactus. Christmas Cactus. Sts. much branched and hanging in large bunches from the trees; joints obovate to oblong, with strongly truncate apex, 1 1/4 - 2 in. long by about 3/4 - 1 in. broad, bright green, margins coarsely serrate, with 1-3 large, acute teeth on each side, the 2 upper ones forming more or less incurved horns on either side of the truncation: areoles bearing a few short yellowish or dark-colored bristles, or sometimes none: fls. horizontal, growing from the truncated end of the younger joints, strongly irregular, 2 1/2 – 3 1/2 in. long, in various shades of red: fr. pear-shaped, red, about 3/8 in. diam. Brazil.— Most of the forms in cult. are hybrids between this species and some other of the genus or with allies of Cereus. A common basket- and rafter-plant.

The above text is from the Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture. It may be out of date, but still contains valuable and interesting information which can be incorporated into the remainder of the article. Click on "Collapse" in the header to hide this text.


The joints of the plants can be fragile and break apart if the plant is in poor health. The flower buds' joints are especially easy to detach.

The soil should be evenly moist for best growth, but they are intolerant to constantly wet soil and poor aeration. If outdoors, an established plant may only need to be watered every two or three days in warm, sunny weather; or every week in cool, cloudy weather.

Christmas cactus will do best in bright indirect light. Long term direct sunlight can burn the leaves and stunt growth. If taken care of properly, a single planting can last for hundreds of years.

Christmas cactus will create flower buds when subjected to cooler temperatures (10 – 14 C) for 6–8 weeks.


Holiday cacti can be propagated quite easily by removing a single segment and planting it a quarter of its length deep in a pot filled with slightly sandy soil. It helps to put some kind of rooting hormone on the base of the cutting. Place the pot in a well lit area (but not in direct sunlight) and keep the soil moist. The cutting should begin showing signs of growth after two or three weeks.

Pests and diseases


Holiday cactus (Schlumbergera and Hatiora hybrids) include:

  • Christmas Cactus, (S. bridgesii, S. x buckleyi, Epiphyllum x buckleyi)
  • Thanksgiving Cactus, Yoke Cactus, Linkleaf Cactus, Crab Cactus, Claw Cactus, (S. truncata, formerly Zygocactus truncatus)
  • Easter Cactus, (Rhipsalis gaertneri or Hatiora gaertneri - formerly Rhipsalidopsis gaertneri)

Other synonymsTemplate:Verify source include: Epiphyllum altensteinii, Schlumbergera truncata var. altensteinii, Zygocactus truncatus var. altensteinii, Epiphyllum bridgesii, Epiphyllum truncatum var. bridgesii, Zygocactus bridgesii, Epiphyllum delicatum, Schlumbergera truncata var. delicata, Zygocactus delicatus, Epiphyllum ruckeri, Epiphyllum ruckerianum, Cactus truncatus, Epiphyllum truncatum.



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