Photo: Bozhena Melnyk (Shutterstock)
Despite their festive name, Christmas cacti are great houseplants all year round and don’t look out of place in mid-July. they also live so long that, with appropriate care, they can be passed on between the generations.
But what if we told you that the succulent plant you think is a Christmas cactus could actually be a completely different plant? And not just any plant – a Thanksgiving cactus? It’s true. They’re both cacti that bloom in late fall or early winter and are named after a year-end holiday, but garden centers often mistakenly refer to Thanksgiving cacti as Christmas cacti.
A Article by the staff of the peasant almanac explains the difference between a Thanksgiving cactus and a Christmas cactus, and why knowing which cactus is important is important. Here’s what you should know.
Thanksgiving cactus vs. Christmas cactus
We’ll start with a few quick differences in appearance, courtesy of the Peasant almanac:
- leaves: Shaped like a crab claw, with two to four serrated segments with pointed spikes on each side. The end of the last segment is slightly concave.
- flower: Growing from the tips or where leaf segments connect; look like a long tube in another flower; mostly pastel colors, including red, pink, peach, purple, orange, or white.
- leaves: Have a rounded, scalloped edge; Tips are slightly curved.
- flower: Usually pink or white.
Why it matters
As you may have guessed, Thanksgiving cacti bloom around the Thanksgiving holiday – about a month before a Christmas cactus blooms. Knowing what type of cactus you have on your hands can tell when you can expect the flowers to appear.
For the most part, at least: Both Thanksgiving and Christmas cacti occasionally bloom between March and May, though the almanac of the peasants indicates that the flowers will not be as rich in spring as they will be at the end of the year.