With Thanksgiving round the corner, you are sure to be fired up with plans of elaborate Thanksgiving dinner menus and decorations. Whilst on this festive trend, take a look at the Thanksgiving cactus. You can pick up one this year and who knows - if you have green fingers, you might even be gifting them out next year!
With Christmas not so far behind, its time we found out how to differentiate a Thanksgiving cactus from a Christmas cactus. With a few simple tips, you can have this colorful extravaganza for the festive season and a lovely houseplant throughout the year.
Known as Schlumbergera truncata, the Thanksgiving cactus gets it popular moniker since it flowers during November - traditionally when Thanksgiving is celebrated. This houseplant blooms in a range of colors, from red and orange to white and pink. These days you can even pick up hybrid varieties that come in shades of salmon and yellow too. Typically a flower lasts about a fortnight.
You can easily propagate this plant by snipping off a stem with about 4 to 5 sections and leaves. A Thanksgiving cactus makes for a lovely gift. You can plan it months ahead with your own plant. Snip off a branch with a few segments and coat it with rooting powder. Place it in damp sand or vermiculite. Ensure that it gets bright but indirect light. Keep it out of direct sunlight for a few days but with sufficient air circulation. It will take about 3 weeks to develop roots and have a life of its own. You can then pot it in a suitable medium which should be kept just moist. Within a month, you should see it growing. But do this much before blooming season.
Never water it too much and ensure that it is kept in a cool place without too much direct sunlight. But do not allow the plant to dry out. You can then have a couple of lovely pots of Thanksgiving cacti to spread the cheer.
Thanksgiving Cactus Vs Christmas Cactus
Both these cacti are native to Brazil and tend to grow on trees in their native habitat. Both the Thanksgiving cacti and the Christmas cacti are easy to grow and propagate. The leaves of the Thanksgiving cactus are sharp and serrated while those of the Christmas cactus are round and scalloped. The Thanksgiving cactus has a flat stem that is often mistaken for a leaf. The Thanksgiving cactus starts flowering in November and continues for a month or so. The Christmas cactus flowers around December, nearly 6 weeks later.
If you are looking to a colorful flowering during the Thanksgiving weekend, expose the cacti to temperatures below 57 °F. This will induce flowering even if you keep your Thanksgiving cacti on the porch or other parts of the room. Alternatively you can get the cacti to flower by placing it in darkness for about 14- 16 hours each night.