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How to care for a Thanksgiving cactus

Want to keep your Thanksgiving cactus as healthy and happy as possible? Here are my best tips on how to care for a Thanksgiving cactus!

I love a good holiday cactus. My mom has had an Easter cactus for as long as I can remember and I used to work with a woman with a beautiful Christmas cactus on her desk.

When I had the opportunity to get a Thanksgiving cactus, I snatched it up!

I have been enjoying its unusual shaped leaves and gorgeous blooms in the winter.

Let’s chat about the Thanksgiving cactus and what you need to know to help yours thrive!


Free printable holiday cactus care guide

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holiday cactus plant care guide

How to care for a Thanksgiving cactus

Thanksgiving Cactus is the common name for Schlumbergera Truncata. It’s called Thanksgiving Cactus because it usually blooms at Thanksgiving time, in November.

These plants are actually not a cactus but epiphytes. This means that they grew on other plants – naturally they grow in the crooks of trees in the rainforest!

Thanksgiving cactus light requirements

Thanksgiving cactus do okay with indirect light most of the year. In September and October, they should be in a cool room that is total darkness for at least 12 hours a day. This could mean moving them into a closet or covering them with a blanket.

Repeat this for 6-8 weeks and only water them every 2-3 weeks during this time to encourage blooming.

Once the blooms have formed, you can move them back into normal indirect light.

thanksgiving cactus in a plastic pot

Thanksgiving cactus watering requirements

Thanksgiving cactuses do not need much water. Only water them when the top 3 inches of soil feels dry – every 2 to 3 weeks.

The main growing season for these plants is April through September. They will need more water during that time – but still don’t need much!

Do Thanksgiving cactuses like being misted?

Yes! These tropical plants like to be misted or sprayed with a spray bottle lightly.

close up of thanksgiving cactus blooms

Thanksgiving cactus soil and potting requirements

Thanksgiving cactus actually likes to be a bit root bound. You can re-pot it with fresh potting soil – but it’s ok staying in a tighter pot.

The best time to repot Thanksgiving Cactus is February through April. This lets it still get its growing going in the new pot before it’s time to bloom!

Best soil for Thanksgiving cactus

Make sure that you choose a well draining soil – such as an orchid soil mix. This plant definitely doesn’t like to get soggy!

How to get a Thanksgiving cactus to bloom

Thanksgiving cacti need short, cool days to bloom. If you live somewhere that it doesn’t frost in the fall, leaving Thanksgiving cactus plants outside can give them this effect.

Otherwise, you will need to move them in your home. They actually like at least 12 hours of darkness leading up to blooming season.

What to do with a Thanksgiving cactus after it blooms?

Remove all of the dropped buds from your cactus. Then, let it sit in indirect light and water it sparingly until April when it will begin needing slightly more water!

thanksgiving in bloom in a pot

Are Thanksgiving Cactus indoor or outdoor plants?

Thanksgiving Cactus cannot go below 50 degrees. So, if you live somewhere warm, you can keep it outdoors. Otherwise, you can put it outdoors in warmer months and bring it indoors over the winter.

If you keep it outdoors, keep it out of direct sunlight as that can burn the leaves!

potted thanksgiving cactus on a table

Common Thanksgiving cactus problems

Why is my Thanksgiving cactus dropping leaves?

The most common problem with a Thanksgiving cactus is over watering. They really don’t need much watering at all.

Be sure that the pot has good drainage and only water it a little bit once a week (or every other week) to keep it happy. If it’s dropping leaves from over watering, let it dry out completely before watering again!

Here’s a complete guide on what to do if your holiday cactus is dropping leaves!

Are Thanksgiving cactus poisonous to cats and dogs?

Thanksgiving cacti are non-toxic to humans and pets. However, they can cause stomach issues if you eat a lot of it. Be vigilant about picking up dropped blooms – they all tend to drop off around the same time.

flowers on a thanksgiving cactus

Should I deadhead a Thanksgiving cactus?

You won’t need to deadhead a Thanksgiving cactus as it naturally drops blooms when they are spent – they can last as little as 2 weeks or as long as 8 weeks.

How long does a Thanksgiving Cactus live?

These plants have been known to live over 100 years and be passed down from generation to generation if cared for properly!

How do you propagate a Thanksgiving cactus?

You can propagate the plants via cuttings in water or soil or via division. They root super easily! Here’s my complete guide on how to propagate a thanksgiving cactus!

Any questions about Thanksgiving cactus care?

Thanks for reading!

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