Why is it impossible to find christmas cactus?

dragonstoneDecember 16, 2006

Ever since I found out about the differences between the holiday cacti, I've been trying to find an actual christmas cactus but it seems like that the only way I can get my hands on one is through cuttings by asking someone.

I'd love to get one to surprise my mother for christmas, even if it was a cutting (It's still fun to watch them grow into a big plant!). It'd be fun to say, "Look Ma! This is a real christmas cactus!" hehe.

Are they fussy or hard plants to take care of? Is that why they aren't more common?

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Christmas cactus are care free and undemanding. If you want one you will have to obtain it as a pass along plant. True Christmas cactus is no longer marketed in this country to my knowledge. Its a shame and its all about marketing. The general public does not want to wait until Christmas to purchase holiday plants. So Thanksgiving cactus are what is sold. They bloom earlier and come in a wider range of colors. But the name Christmas cactus has more romance and public appeal so that is what these plants are called. Its all about money!

    Bookmark   December 16, 2006 at 7:48AM
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Wal mart, Home depot, Loew' many store sell them christmas cactus.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2006 at 8:02AM
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Technically, the stores are selling Thanksgiving Cactus. I want the real Christmas Cactus. Schlumbergera x buckleyi.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2006 at 11:54AM
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dragonstone I was told someone on e-bay was selling cuttings off a christmas cactus that is very old recently. You have to watch e-bay however or you will get stuck with truncata. If there is a picture that shows the foliage you can check to make sure it is buckleyi. If it comes from a 100 year old plant you can rest assured it is buckleyi. You might also check out epiforums. There is a Schlumbergera section in the forums and people are quite willing to trade. If all else fails I could part with some cuttings next summer.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2006 at 6:12PM
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Thanks, fred! Fortunately, I found someone who is willing to give me a cutting so I'm excited about that. I saw the old plant on ebay and I balk at how much people are willing to bid on the clippings. hehe.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2006 at 12:15AM
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Just a question, why could you settle on a X of the real thing. The X is not a species. This confuses me. I dont' know the difference yet, but will look it up for sure now that you posted and brought my attention that there is a difference. Norma

    Bookmark   December 18, 2006 at 2:18AM
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Hi Norma,

This is the link I've seen used repeatedly when people asked about differences: http://cactus.biology.dal.ca/paulS/christmas/christmas.html

From the site, it says that thanksgiving cactus has pointy teeth on the leaves and the blooms bend upwards while christmas cactus just has rounded teeth and the blooms just dangle down.

All of mine are thanksgiving cactus so I was hoping to get an actual christmas cactus. I said "schlumbergera x buckleyi" because that's the term I've seen for christmas cactus. I don't know anything else beyond that specific name.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2006 at 4:32AM
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All Schlumbergeras on the market today are hybrids. Truncata is the cross of two species, buckleyi the cross of another two species.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2006 at 4:41AM
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What's the name of the real christmas cactus? Does that mean having to go back to older names that were used?

    Bookmark   December 18, 2006 at 4:56AM
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As the web page you referred to says, the parents of both Thanksgiving (x truncata) and Christmas (x buckleyi) cacti are the true species S. truncata (autumn-flowering) and S. russeliana (spring-flowering), but there is much more S. truncata in the Thanksgiving cacti. The name "x buckleyi" refers to a group of similar cultivars, for example 'Buckleyi' and 'Le Vesuv', which all are Christmas cacti. The very first crossing of the two species resulted in several hybrids, which differed slightly from each other. So, there is no single, true Christmas cactus, but a small group. My own is a Schlumbergera x buckleyi 'Buckleyi'.

All x truncata do not have toothed margins, by the way. If in doubt, you will have to look at the flowers or fruits.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2006 at 6:05AM
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rjj1(Norman OK Zone7)

We had a bad drought this year, so the honey bees didn't make enough honey to cover the amount needed for our Christmas gifts. I went this morning to a friends to get another gallon and his wife wanted to show me her 55 year old Christmas cactus. She fixed up with a few cuttings in exchange for some cuttings off some nice hybrid thanksgiving cactus I bought this fall.


    Bookmark   December 19, 2006 at 12:01PM
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amany(MI / 6)

I know I'm late, but I'll toss in my two cents anyway. ;-)

A few weeks ago I took a chance and bought a Christmas Cactus from Kroger. They were 3 for $10. I don't know if you have any in your area, but maybe you could try looking there. They have the round stems as opposed to the pointy ones.

Another good source could be a farmer's market if you have one in your area this time of year.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   December 21, 2006 at 2:55PM
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I'm never going to keep track of all these names nor will I know if I ever have a true christmas cactus or not. I suppose having one with rounded leaves and flowers that dangle down is good enough for me because it's different than pointed teeth and flowers that bend upwards. hehe.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2006 at 5:45AM
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Greyish pollen and ribbed fruits are characteristic for christmas cacti too.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2006 at 7:56AM
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njoynit(Z8b Coastal ~secluded)

My blooms dangle downwards.I have a red ,a white& a dark fushia.My neighbor has the pointy stems& is a pink shade.(I'm getting cuttings off hers in June,thats when they take root best.)I let them bloom naturally.They don't bloom the exact same time.My white was 1st(Nov)& my red (mid nov)is just finishing& my fushia that I had got worried about and shoved in gardenshed for 3 weeks and pulled back out now has buds and close to opening 1st bloom.I grow them in hanging baskets& the fushia was actually shaded the most.My red got too much actually cause its leaves are red tinted from sun burn(Its TX....Opps!) I call them trunctas.They are NOT like the 3 I lost.I made the mistake of wintering them in hubbys garage& an aloe joined their death from an engine hoist that got dropped.I tried rooting the mess,but rooting don't do at that time of year.My neighbors is different from mine.I do have a photo,but not a blooming one.Hers looks like a claw,I'm hopeing it blooms like mine,hers looks kinda leggy if its what I think it is.

You don't see many out anymore.My walmart doesn't even have any this year yet.I didn't see any at Lowes a few weeks ago either,but found a nice dwarf banna for 1.75 :D

Here's a picture of my white.It was a bee magnet.my red was indoors in bathroom.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   December 22, 2006 at 7:57AM
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My! What a gorgeous plant! I bought one(same variety) last year and it hasn't done a thing, not a smidgen of new growth, nothing!
I guess I should be happy it hasn't died. After it finished blooming I transplanted it into the same pot with my rubber plant because they both like it on the dry side, last week I took it out of there and transplanted it into it's own pot and moved it to full afternoon sun and I'll see what happens. I've never had a plant do absolutely nothing for a year - usually they either grow or die!

    Bookmark   December 22, 2006 at 2:34PM
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dufflebag2002(Calif. 91607)

Dragonstone, thank you and bless you. The description is great, the line drawings are even better. I ran off four copies. Thank you, I hope others will follow your advise and go to that link, it is wonderful. Norma

    Bookmark   December 22, 2006 at 11:00PM
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tjicken - Thanks for telling me about the grey pollen and ribbed fruit. I love knowing the differences. Is there any chance you, or anyone else, know where to find a picture of a christmas cactus fruit? It took me a long while but I did find one of a thanksgiving cactus that had a dark pink fruit. I don't think I've seen one for Easter cactus yet.

Gorgeous white flowers! I've been collecting colors and I think all I need left is Peach and the 'Purple-ish' color. I've seen Epiphyllum used recently. How does that fit in with the holiday cactus?

    Bookmark   December 25, 2006 at 8:33AM
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