Place in bright, indirect light, water once a week, and get ready to enjoy the blooms! That's how easy it is to grow Christmas cactus, a native of Brazil's tropical rainforests known as zygocactus or Schlumbergera bridgesii. Thanksgiving cactus is identical to Christmas except it grows in November instead of December. Even though they are in the cactus family, these holiday cacti are leaf cacti and do not have the prickly thorns associated with most cacti.
A native of the natural forests of Brazil, Easter cactus (Rhipsalidopsis gaetneri) and one that usually blooms in March. My personal favorite is the Easter cactus because I had one that bloomed nearly year-round when I placed it my office that had a sunny window all day long, with especially intense afternoon sun. But all types of zygocactus are easy to grow and forgiving of a plant owner with limited time.
Here are a few tips:
- Christmas/Thanksgiving cacti enjoy a great deal of humidity, but Easter cactus prefers a drier environment.
- Besides when they bloom and their humidity tolerance, the other difference between the two cactus types are in their blooming presentation. Easter cacti blooms come straight out from the stem, and holiday cacti have a ruffled, many-tiered bloom with a more prominent stamen.
- Put Christmas and Thanksgiving cacti outside in the summer, leave them out until the fall nights are in the upper 40's, then put them in an unheated room (50-65 degrees) with as little articial light as possible at night. The temperature differential and shortened days prompt them to begin blooming, although my indoor cacti seem to have no problem blooming on their own!
- Easter cactus also prefers to be in a cool room in early fall to stimulate bud growth, but it also prefers a dry period, so water sparingly in October and November.
- Water approximately once a week when the plant is growing indoors or in a humid outdoor location. Water more or less according to heat and humidity.
- Fuchsia is the traditional color of Christmas and Thanksgiving cacti, but hybrids are available in white, beige, coral, yellow, and purple. My Easter cactus is red, but they are available in striking bronzy-orange, white, peach, lavender, and pink as well.