Thanksgiving Cactus (Schlumbergera truncata)

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Thanksgiving cactus get their common name because they bloom in November. Plants are often confused with another popular holiday succulent, the Christmas cactus, that blooms in December. These two species are related, but their foliage and flowering times are different, and neither is a true cactus. Both are epiphytes, native to the tropical coasts of Brazil where they can be found growing in trees or from cracks in rocks. Hummingbirds help pollinate these plants in nature. Makes a low-maintenance houseplant, perfect for anyone new to caring for plants.


Perfect for growing in a pot near a bright window indoors, or outdoors in the summer on a shaded deck, patio, or porch. Potted Schlumbergera grown outdoors in the summer can be brought back inside when temperatures are expected to fall below 50°F (10°C). Can be grown outdoors year-round in frost-free climates, in a pot or in the ground.

Plant Feed

Apply feed monthly.


Allow soil to dry between thorough waterings.


Well-drained potting mix for cacti and succulents.

Basic Care Summary

After flowering allow the plant to rest by withholding water for 30 days, then return to normal watering. To encourage reblooming, keep plant in a cool location at 55-60°F (13-16°C) with 8-11 hours of light each day, for 4-6 weeks until the flower buds are fully formed. Once flower buds develop the plant may be moved to desired location. Repot if needed after blooming ends.

Planting Instructions

If the plant was purchased in a pot, then it is probably already in a quality potting soil and requires little more than watering and grooming for a while.

Watering Instructions

Apply water at the soil level if possible to avoid wetting the plant. Water the entire soil area until water runs out the base of the pot. This indicates that the soil is thoroughly wet. Discard any excess water that has accumulated in the pot’s saucer.

Don’t water again until the top 1-2” (3-5cm) of soil is completely dry. Check the soil moisture with your finger. Plant may require less water during the winter months when it’s growing more slowly because of lower light levels. Some species may even go dormant for a few months in winter.

Pruning Instructions

Remove the flowers as they fade. This keeps the plant looking tidy and may encourage more blooms depending on the type of plant. After flowering many blooming plants make attractive houseplants. Be sure to trim the foliage to maintain the desired size and shape. Occasional trimming encourages the plant to develop more side-shoots and flowers, and reduces the demand for the plant to develop a larger root system. This is important since the roots are in a confined space.

Some plants will re-bloom on their own, but others may have very specific day-length or temperature requirements to flower again. A bit of research may be necessary to determine what is needed to encourage future blooming. Some plants, such as bulbs or perennials, can be turned into wonderful garden additions after the flowers have been enjoyed indoors.

Fertilizing Instuctions

Fertilizers are available in many forms: granulated, slow-release, liquid feeds, organic or synthetic. Determine which application method is best for the situation and select a product with a nutritional balance designed for foliage plants.

Too much fertilizer can damage plants so it’s important to follow the package directions to determine how much, and how often, to feed plants.

Slow-release fertilizers are an especially good, care-free choice for container plants. Follow the product directions for proper timing and application rates.

Plant Details

Category Flowering Houseplant
Height Range 8-12″
Height Metric Range 20-30cm
Space Range 9-12″
Space Metric Range 23-30cm
Available Colors Flowers in shades of pink, red, purple, orange and white
Companion Plants Kalanchoe, Sansevieria, Cactus
Lowest Temperature 60° to 80°F
Lowest Temperature Metric 16° to 27°C
Bloom Time Fall
Plant Light Bright Light
Hardiness Zone 11, 12