Looking for an easy-to-grow flowering houseplant? Let me introduce you to Thanksgiving Cacti…..

Nurseries, garden centres, and online retailers are now displaying Thanksgiving Cacti on their shelves!  Thanksgiving Cacti are easy to grow houseplants.  One of the many endearing qualities about these plants is that we can enjoy Thanksgiving Cacti this season, but these long-lived plants can flourish for over one hundred years, allowing Thanksgiving Cacti to be celebrated and passed on to future generations.  Shops only sell Thanksgiving Cacti at this time of year, whilst the plants are in bud or in bloom.  I don’t want you to miss out on the chance to own a Thanksgiving Cactus and to enjoy a plant that’s in bud.  I am most attracted to Thanksgiving Cactuses whilst they’re in bud, when every stem is decorated with gorgeous jewel-like flower buds.  I don’t want you to miss out on this exciting stage of the plant’s growth and beauty, which is why I’m writing about these stunning, easy-to-grow houseplants today.

I am especially fond of Thanksgiving Cacti (Schlumbergera) whilst they’re in bud. Their large flower buds look like stunning jewels!
Thanksgiving Cacti make wonderful gifts as they have the capacity to be very long-lived plants. I find it comforting to remember loved ones through my memories of the plants they have given me, which also reminds me of the precious times we’ve shared together.

Thanksgiving Cacti are from a genus of plants called Schlumbergera.  There are three popular forms of Schlumbergera – Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter Cactuses – named because the different forms reliably bloom at a particular celebratory time of year.  Varying shades of red, yellow, orange, pink, and white flowered Schlumbergera cultivars are available, in a range of both vibrant and delicate-coloured flowers – there is bound to be a plant that will compliment your home’s colour scheme!

There are many different coloured Schlumbergera varieties available. Visit your local garden centre, florist, supermarket, or order online. I tend to veer towards the white or pink flowered forms but there are also red, apricot, and other varieties available.

Unlike traditional cacti, which grow in sunny, dry, and arid conditions, Thanksgiving cacti are from the Brazilian rainforest and flourish in a humid environment, away from bright sunshine and harsh light.  Thanksgiving cacti thrive in light rooms that enjoy indirect sunlight.

Schlumbergera petals display a soft sheen similar to that we see in silk.
Thanksgiving Cacti (Schlumbergera) can get rather dusty, so gently rinse your plant’s leaves with luke-warm water to smarten your plants up. Clean your plants now or as soon as possible! Rinse your plant’s stems before your Thanksgiving Cacti come into bloom. Avoid wetting the flowers, as this will shorten their lifespan.

Every year when my Schlumbergera start to develop flower buds, I give the plants a gentle shower with some warmed up rainwater.  This prevents the plant becoming dehydrated and gives it more oomph to flower.  I use the rainwater to wash over the leaves and rinse away any dust or debris that has collected on the stems; this enables more effective photosynthesis and improves the plant’s appearance.

Thanksgiving cacti are incredibly floriferous plants. If your plant hasn’t started to produce flower buds yet, move it to a cooler room.

Thanksgiving Cacti are triggered to start producing flower buds in autumn when the days shorten, and nights lengthen.  Thanksgiving Cacti are easy to grow, but these plants will only flower abundantly if they experience a change in light levels and a drop in temperature to indicate the arrival of a new season.  If your Thanksgiving Cactus has not flowered, move it to a cooler room where your plant can enjoy a difference in temperature and light as the season’s change.  When positioning plants, remember that Schlumbergera cactuses are tender plants that are killed by frost.  Don’t expose Schlumbergera to temperatures below 10C (50F).

Here’s one of my Schlumbergera flower buds starting to open. The smaller flower buds are still developing and will open later, extending this plant’s flowering period.

If you’d like to buy a Thanksgiving cactus don’t delay – these types of cacti are usually only found in shops at this time of year, and they look spectacular whilst in bud.  When you’re buying plants, choose environmentally friendly plants – check the plants were raised in peat-free compost.  Harriet’s Houseplants are online retailers that stock peat-free houseplants that are raised here in the UK.

I dead-head my Thanksgiving Cacti’s flowers as they fade, to ensure the blooms that are in their prime can shine, and won’t be hidden by shrivelled or decomposing flowers.

I’m not expecting my Thanksgiving cacti to flower with any abundance this year.  My plants produced an abundance of flowers in November 2022.   I moved house in January 2023.  Shortly after moving, my heating broke and the temperatures inside my home plummeted to 10C for a (very long) week.  Whilst many of my other houseplants died overnight, this change in conditions induced my Thanksgiving cacti to develop buds and flower again!

My heating broke for a week in January 2023. I lost many plants overnight and I experienced more losses as the week went on. However, my Schlumbergera quickly developed new flower buds, despite having bloomed fantastically only two months earlier – as a result my Thanksgiving Cacti bloomed in February 2023!
This Schlumbergera was given to me about nine years ago by two very special people. I think of them every time I see this plant.
Look out for Thanksgiving Cactus (Schlumbergera) for sale online and in supermarkets and garden centres. When buying plants, check they were raised in peat-free compost. You do not need to use peat to grow Thanksgiving Cacti – these plants grow better in a peat-free growing medium.
Schlumbergera flower in autumn, right at the time when we spend more time indoors and we can really benefit from having flowers around us.

To see more of my favourite houseplants and read my tips for caring for houseplants over autumn and winter, please click here.

To see my plant pages and see pictures and information on growing various types of orchids, houseplants, ferns, perennials, annuals, trees, shrubs, vegetables, fruit, herbs, roses, and more, please click here.

To see my Calendar of Orchid Events, please click here.

To see my Calendar of Houseplant Events, please click here.

For gardening advice for October, please click here.

For gardening advice for November, please click here.

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