Holiday Cactus Care

It’s that time of year again! That time when you see “Holiday” cacti everywhere. From Thanksgiving to Easter, they’re so pretty with their brightly colored flowers — and who could pass up a cactus? They’re super easy to care for and don’t really require much water! Except in this case: These are not a desert cactus, they’re a tropical cactus so they need more water than your typical cactus would. Also, these are epiphytes, meaning they grow on other plants in nooks, and epiliths, meaning they grow on rocks. Thankfully they also grow faster than your typical desert cactus would, and produce more blooms. If you have questions or want to talk about you holiday cacti, then feel free to go to our Facebook group — and check here for help identifying which type of cactus you have. So, without much further ado, I will explain how to care for the Thanksgiving cactus (Schlumbergera truncata), Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera bridgesii), and Easter cactus (Hatiora gaertneri) varieties.

Water: I water mine whenever the soil is dry to the touch, which ends up being about every seven days. How I water mine depends on which type of pot it’s in. A few get water from the bottom, and a few get watered from the top, it doesn’t really matter to them. As for amount of water, I give them as much water as they can soak up in a few minute’s time. Make sure that you don’t leave it sitting in water for any period of time, or allow the potting mix to get soggy, as this will lead to root rot. Restrict water for a full month after they are finished blooming.

Light: They like bright, indirect light, so if you have one in a southern facing window, make sure that it is behind a sheer curtain or not directly in front of the window since these aren’t exposed to full on sunlight in their natural habitats.

Fertilizer: I give mine a good organic fertilizer that is meant for potted cactuses, but a diluted all purpose fertilizer will work as well. Make sure to withhold giving them fertilizer from October for both Schlumbergera truncata and Schlumbergera bridgesii, and January for the Hatiora gaertneri, until a month after they are done blooming.

Potting: All three of these prefer to have a potting mix that is lighter and drains well. I keep mine is a mixture of a cactus potting mix with some added perlite and orchid bark, and they do quit well. They also prefer to have a snugger pot, so don’t feel like you need to upgrade their pot each year to a larger one. In fact, I would suggest not re-potting them for 2-3 years, and even then you can just replace the potting mix and place them back into the same pot if they aren’t root bound.

Remember to not move any of these three “holiday cactuses” while they are in bloom, or that can cause them to drop the flowers/buds.

(Fun fact: The plural of the word “cactus” is actually cacti, cactuses, or cactus.)