The Thanksgiving cactus (Schlumbergera truncata) and Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera bridgesii) are popular holiday plants known for their vibrant blooms, but they have distinct differences that are important for plant enthusiasts.

One of the most noticeable differences is their blooming periods. As their names suggest, the Thanksgiving cactus typically blooms from late fall into early winter, around Thanksgiving, while the Christmas cactus blooms closer to the Christmas season.

Another key difference lies in their leaf segments. The Thanksgiving cactus has pointed and claw-shaped leaf segments, which give it a somewhat jagged appearance. In contrast, the Christmas cactus has rounder, scalloped edges, creating a more cascading and softer appearance.

The color of the blooms also varies between these species. The Thanksgiving cactus often features flowers in shades of pink, red, purple, and even white, while the Christmas cactus typically has flowers that are a bit more subdued, often in shades of red, pink, purple, or white, but with different tonal qualities.

Care requirements for both plants are similar with subtle differences.

Both prefer bright, indirect light and well-draining soil. However, the Christmas cactus tends to be a bit more tolerant of lower light conditions compared to the Thanksgiving cactus. During their blooming period, both plants benefit from reduced watering and cooler temperatures at night to encourage blooming.

While both cacti are cherished for their festive blooms, they can be distinguished by their blooming periods, leaf segment shapes, and flower colors. Providing the appropriate care will ensure these beautiful plants thrive and brighten up the holiday season.

Holiday Cactus Explained (Schlumbergera)