Which cactus did you buy before Christmas? Do you have a Christmas cactus or a Thanksgiving cactus? I’m sure it’s not an Easter cactus, as they are the same genus but a different species. How do you tell the difference?
While all usually bloom in cooler seasons, they are not the same cactus.
Christmas and Thanksgiving cacti are in the Schlumbergera genus. They are both short day cacti and need long periods of cool temperatures and dim conditions before they set buds. Christmas cactus and Thanksgiving cactus are in separate species designations and have a different leaf structure.
The Thanksgiving cactus has clawed edges on the leaf and is often called crab cactus. The Christmas cactus has notched edges, but they are not as pointed. They both have tubular, brightly coloured flowers. The Christmas cactus’ flowers are drooping with purple-brown anthers and the Thanksgiving cactus flowers grow horizontal to the stem with yellow anthers.
The Easter cactus has a smooth leaf edge with no notches and the flower is a flat star shape. The Easter cactus needs a longer period of cool temperatures and low light period to form flowers.
All three plants come in a variety of colours, mostly red to fuchsia, and you may find white, orange and yellow, too. No matter what type you have, they are all delightful and will brighten your day.
We wish everyone a safe and enjoyable holiday season!
Marlene Link is a member of the Dunnville Horticultural Society.