What plant is this?

mythumbisblueJune 11, 2014

My mom gave this plant to me, for as long as I can remember, it never flowered. She said it used to bloom at her workplace until she brought it home... That was about 15 years ago. Does anyone know the name of this plant or type of plant this is? I want to research more about it so hopefully I can get it to bloom this summer.

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Thanksgiving Cactus is the common name. Usually blooms deep pink/fuschia. Christmas Cactus is similar but usually with red blooms and wider leaves. The names are for the general time that they bloom as houseplants.

IIRC they to be kept in bright light so near a window is a good spot. My grandmother kept hers in a West facing window that got late afternoon sun and my mother-in-law keeps hers in her kitchen with bright AM light/sun. My mother keeps about 10 at her office in front of a wall of West facing windows. They are not real cactus though, so they get watered more than twice a year, haha :)

I think my mom waters hers every few weeks nice and deep. Do lots of research and you'll be fine. Most of these in my family are heirlooms in that they never die, but grow monstrously big. Also they are very easy to reproduce from pieces of leaves kept in a glass/jar of water. Make sure the spot that was the joint between two leaves is in the water and roots should form from that area.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2014 at 4:40PM
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It looks like a seaweed. I don't know this plant.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2014 at 10:51PM
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We called it ALL Christmas Cactus, I've never heard of "Thanksgiving cactus", LOL!

It is VERY hard to kill. It is very easy to propogate - just twist off a section and stick it in moist soil.

If you want to get reliable blooms, it seems fairly finicky to me. I have never worried about blooms and my Christmas cacti have just bloomed sporadically whenever they feel like it. The way I have always treated them, according to the experts they should NEVER have bloomed at all!

But they will tolerate a good deal of neglect, and sometimes even thrive despite it.

It likely won't bloom in the summer. My guess is that they turn down the heat at your mom's work at night - which is basically what would be needed to trigger blooming. There are several types of Schlumbergera in the US, including the so-called "Easter cactus", "Thanksgiving cactus", and Christmas Cactus - all of which are supposed to bloom naturally around the holiday in their names.

Apparently a lot of plants sold as Xmas cactus around Xmas time are actually Thanksgiving cactus that have been forced to bloom around Xmas time.

Here is some advice for how to get them to bloom:

Some gardenweb advice for growing Xmas cactus

U of IL Extension Xmas Cactus advice

Advice from Ed Hume seeds

Turns out they are actually epiphytes, which I never knew and which may inform my choice of potting media for these in the future. I never thought they were REALLY cacti - but apparently they are, though dissimilar to USian types of desert cacti.

So I learned something about a plant I have taken for granted for over 50 years, LOL!

Here is a link that might be useful: Wikipedia entry on Xmas et al cacti

    Bookmark   September 13, 2014 at 5:01PM
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Since my original response I have found I was incorrect - this is a Christmas Cactus. It has scalloped edges. The Thanksgiving Cactus is related but has pointed edges. They are both Schlumbergera, but yours is Schlumbergera buckleyi. The Thanksgiving cactus is Schlumbergera truncata. Oops.

Truncata are more common at least in the US, and naturally bloom about a month earlier, hence our calling them Thanksgiving cacti. The rest of the world does not have Thanksgiving or does not celebrate at the same time of year, so they all get lumped into the "Christmas Cactus" category.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2014 at 7:52PM
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xiangirl zone 4/5 Nebraska(5)

My mom's Christmas Cactus likes it bright and cool, a strange combination. If she sets it close to the heating vent it doesn't bloom. It doesn't like direct heat, but it likes direct sunlight so it gets plenty of sunlight from a south window.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2015 at 3:00PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Another name for Thanksgiving cactus is crab cactus, in reference to the shape of the stem segments. As mentioned the one asked about is instead a Christmas cactus. Both belong to Schlumbergera - and a percentage of the many kinds offered (mostly during flowering season) by garden centers, supermarket floral departments etc. may perhaps be hybrids between the two. Sometimes these are sold with tags giving cultivar names (that can be looked up) but often they are not.

This post was edited by bboy on Thu, Jan 29, 15 at 15:09

    Bookmark   January 29, 2015 at 3:08PM
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OP, if you can place the plant outside, in a fairly shadey yet bright location, and then bring into a nice bright window area in the fall, you should be blessed with large numbers of blooms. Ours-by now a cutting of a cutting of a cutting of an heirloom plant once belonging to my wife's deceased grandmother-just keeps growing and growing.

And at the proper time of year, blooming and blooming and blooming!

Incidentally, this cactus is originally from the Brazilian rainforest! There, it is an epiphyte, growing up high in a crotch of a forest giant. That may suggest some cultural aspects of caring for the plant. We water ours about once a week through the winter, with rain and an occasional supplemental watering/fertilizing during summer outdoor time. A fun and easy thing, IMO. I'd love to some day try it as an epiphyte myself-after moving to Florida, lol!


    Bookmark   January 29, 2015 at 3:18PM
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