How to tell the difference between Christmas Cactus and Thanksgiving Cactus -Schlumbergera

Hi Guys 😀 

In this Blog I will talking about how you can tell the difference between Christmas and Thanksgiving cactus and also sharing a link to a video I have made for my Cacti & Succulent You Tube Channel called Desert Plants of Avalon where I go into more detail about the differences between Christmas and Thanksgiving Cactus and also Easter Cactus.

Christmas and Thanksgiving Cactus are from the Schlumbergera Cactus family and they are Epiphytic cacti and grow naturally in the tropical Rainforests hanging from trees where they get more moisture and shade than their desert sun loving cousins 😀 

Schlumbergera Cacti typically flower from mid October until late January but its not unusual for these cacti to flower at other times of the year too especially if they are grown indoors under artificial light source.

The true Christmas Cacti are called Schlumbergera buckleyi and these cacti flower later than the more commonly seen for sale Thanksgiving cacti the Schlumbergera truncata Cacti, Schlumbergera buckleyi ( Christmas cactus ) flowers early December until late January, and Schlumbergera truncata ( Thanksgiving Cactus ) flowers earlier from early October until late December.


Schlumbergera truncata ( Thanksgiving Cactus ) 

Christmas cactus, Schlumbergera truncata, red flowering Christmas cactus, Christmas cactus red flowers, Xmas cactus,
Schlumbergera truncata has stem segments that are claw like and the flowers are more erect and usually this cactus will bloom from early October until late December.

Schlumbergera truncata is the Thanksgiving cactus and this Cactus has stem segments that have crab claw edges on its segments that resemble crab claws, ( see diagram below ) and the Thanksgiving cactus ( Schlumbergera truncata ) is often nicknamed the crab cactus for this reason.  

Schlumbergera truncata ( Thanksgiving Cactus ) comes in many different varieties of colours due to the many hybrids now available and this cactus is the one that is most commonly seen for sale around the Christmas time and also wrongly named Christmas Cactus when it really is a Thanksgiving Cactus.

The blooms on Schlumbergera truncata also are more erect and do not hang down like the blooms on Schlumbergera buckleyi.

Schlumbergera buckleyi ( Christmas Cactus ) 

Schlumbergera buckleyi ( Christmas Cactus ) has rounded scalloped segments and the flowers hang down towards the ground. The blooms usually form later from November until mid February.

Schlumbergera buckleyi is the true Christmas cactus and this cactus has stem segments that are flattened and with smooth and scalloped edges that are not toothed  ( see diagram below ). This Cactus is very rarely seen for sale these days in garden shops and nurseries and if you have recently bought a cactus labelled at ‘Christmas Cactus’ it is nearly always 99% a truncata and not a buckleyi.

The blooms on Schlumbergera buckleyi hang down on the stem segments. 

Rhipsalidopsis gaertneri ( Easter Cactus ) 

Rhipsalidopsis gaerneri is the Easter cactus and the stem segments are even more rounded and have hairs on the tip of the segments. The flowers are much smaller and star shaped in appearance compared to the flowers on Schlumbergera and this cactus typically flowers from March until May.

Rhipsalidopsis gaertneri is the true Easter Cactus and this cactus also has stem segments that are very rounded with scalloped edges and the segments have a hairy covering at the tip of each segment and often have a red edging to them, ( see diagram below ) the flowers are also much smaller on Easter cacti and this cactus commonly blooms from the March to April time.

How to tell the difference between Christmas and Thanksgiving Cactus
The different types of Christmas, Thanksgiving and Easter cacti can be identified by their different leaf segments. Illustrations by Hans Muller

Here is a video that I have made for my Cacti and Succulent You Tube channel called Desert Plants of Avalon where I explain in lots more detail how you can tell the difference between Christmas, Thanksgiving and Easter Cactus.

I will be making a future blog and also a video on How to care for Christmas and Thanksgiving Cacti in the next few days so watch this space guys 😀 

Sending you all love and happiness and an abundance of PLANT POWER from across the Emerald Isle <3