If you’re a fan of indoor plants, you’ve probably heard of the Christmas cactus and the Thanksgiving cactus. These two plants may look similar, but they have distinct differences that set them apart.
In this post, I will discuss the comparison of Christmas Cactus vs Thanksgiving Cactus in various ways possible and also discuss in detail to help you identify them easily.
Let’s get started!
Christmas Cactus vs Thanksgiving Cactus
|Feature||Christmas Cactus||Thanksgiving Cactus|
|Leaf Shape||Flat, scalloped||Pointed, claw-like|
|Blooming Time||Late November to late December||Mid-November to late November|
|Flower Color||Pink, red, white, purple||Pink, red, orange, yellow|
|Stem Segment Shape||Round and smooth||Flat and jagged|
Origin and History
The Christmas and Thanksgiving cacti are both native to Brazil, while the Easter cactus is native to South America. The Christmas cactus was first discovered in the late 18th century by a German botanist named Franz Ludwig von Nees von Esenbeck.
The Thanksgiving cactus was discovered later, in the early 19th century, by another German botanist named Link.
The Christmas cactus, also known as Schlumbergera, was first introduced to the United States in the 1800s.
It quickly became a popular holiday plant due to its unique blooming pattern. The plant typically blooms in December, just in time for the holiday season.
The Thanksgiving cactus, also known as the crab cactus or Schlumbergera truncata, was introduced to the United States in the early 1900s. It gets its name from its blooming time, which typically occurs around Thanksgiving.
Both the Christmas and Thanksgiving cacti have become popular holiday plants due to their unique beauty and blooming patterns. While they may look similar, there are some key differences between the two plants that can help you tell them apart.
The most notable difference between Christmas cactus and Thanksgiving cactus is the shape of their leaves. Christmas cactus has leaf-like projections that are shaped like tear-drops, while Thanksgiving cactus has sharp and claw-shaped projections at the leaf edges. The leaves of the Thanksgiving cactus are also more pointed than those of the Christmas cactus.
Additionally, the leaf segments of the Thanksgiving cactus are more pronounced than those of the Christmas cactus, which are smoother and more rounded.
Both Christmas and Thanksgiving Cactus produce stunning flowers, but the shape of the flowers is different. The flowers of the Christmas cactus have a more tubular shape, while the flowers of the Thanksgiving cactus have a more rounded shape. The flowers of the Thanksgiving cactus also tend to be smaller than those of the Christmas cactus.
Another difference is the direction in which the flowers face. The flowers of the Thanksgiving cactus face outwards, while those of the Christmas cactus tend to face more upwards.
Both Christmas and Thanksgiving Cactus come in a variety of colors, including pink, red, white, and orange. However, the colors of the Thanksgiving cactus tend to be brighter and more vibrant than those of the Christmas cactus.
Additionally, the Thanksgiving cactus has a wider range of colors, including purple and fuchsia, while the Christmas cactus is limited to shades of pink, red, and white.
While Christmas and Thanksgiving Cactus share many similarities, their physical differences make them easy to distinguish from one another.
Growing and Care
Light and Temperature
Both Christmas and Thanksgiving cacti grow best in bright, indirect light. Direct sunlight can burn the leaves and cause damage to the plant. Keep the cactus in a location where it receives 6-8 hours of bright, indirect light each day.
Temperature is also important for the growth of these cacti. They prefer temperatures between 60-70°F during the day and 50-60°F at night. Avoid placing the cactus near drafts or in areas with fluctuating temperatures.
Watering and Soil
Proper watering is crucial for the health of your cactus. Water your cactus when the top inch of soil feels dry to the touch. Overwatering can lead to root rot, so make sure the soil has good drainage. Use a well-draining soil mix, such as cactus soil, and a pot with drainage holes.
During the growing season, fertilize your cactus once a month with a balanced fertilizer. In the winter months, reduce watering and stop fertilizing to allow the plant to rest.
Both Christmas and Thanksgiving cacti are easy to propagate. Simply take a cutting from the plant and let it dry for a few days. Once the cutting has calloused over, plant it in a well-draining soil mix and water sparingly until roots develop.
Another method of propagation is to place the cutting in water until roots develop, then plant it in soil. This method can take longer, but it can be easier for beginners.
Christmas Cactus Bloom Time
The Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera bridgesii) typically blooms from late November to late December, sometimes through January.
The plant requires about six weeks of short days (less than 12 hours of light per day) to initiate flower buds.
Once the buds form, they take about two to four weeks to fully open, depending on the temperature and light conditions.
During the blooming period, the Christmas cactus produces showy, tubular flowers in shades of pink, red, white, and purple. The flowers last for several weeks, and the plant can continue to bloom for up to two months under the right conditions.
Thanksgiving Cactus Bloom Time
The Thanksgiving cactus (Schlumbergera truncata) blooms about a month earlier than the Christmas cactus, from mid-November to late December, sometimes through January. Like the Christmas cactus, it requires about six weeks of short days to initiate flower buds.
The Thanksgiving cactus produces smaller, more compact flowers in shades of pink, red, orange, and white. The flowers have a more rounded shape than those of the Christmas cactus and last for several weeks. The plant can continue to bloom for up to two months under the right conditions.
After reviewing the differences between Christmas Cactus and Thanksgiving Cactus, it’s clear that these two plants have several distinct characteristics that set them apart.
Ultimately, the choice between Christmas Cactus and Thanksgiving Cactus comes down to personal preference. Both plants are beautiful and make great additions to any indoor garden. Whether you choose one or the other, with proper care, you can enjoy their vibrant blooms for years to come.
Overall, both Christmas Cactus and Thanksgiving Cactus are great choices for indoor gardening. With their vibrant blooms and easy care requirements, they are perfect for both novice and experienced gardeners alike. So, whether you’re looking for a festive addition to your holiday decor or simply want to add some color to your home, these cacti are sure to impress.