The Christmas cactus is a very popular houseplant—and for good reason! When they bloom, they produce colorful, tubular flowers in pink or lilac colors. Their beautiful flowers, long bloom time, and easy care requirements make them a wonderful plant. We’ll bet someone in your family has a Christmas cactus!
About Christmas Cacti
Unlike other cacti, the Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera x buckleyi) and its relatives don’t live in hot, arid environments such as deserts or plains. In fact, these epiphytic succulents are native to the tropical rainforests of southern Brazil, where they grow on tree branches and soak up the high humidity, dappled sunlight, and warm temperatures.
The bottom line: Don’t treat a Christmas cactus like it’s a run-of-the-mill cactus or succulent. They can’t take the same sort of sunny, dry conditions that other cacti can. It’s important to water these cacti more regularly than most succulents, but to also be cautious of keeping them too wet. (See detailed care instructions below.)
Thanksgiving, Easter, or Christmas Cactus?
There are three main types of “holiday” cacti out there: the Easter cactus (S. gaertneri), Thanksgiving cactus (S. truncata), and Christmas cactus (S. x buckleyi). Each holiday cactus typically blooms closest to the holiday that it’s named after. However, most of the “Christmas cacti” sold today are actually Thanksgiving cacti, which tend to bloom from November through February and therefore pass unnoticed as Christmas cacti. To learn more, see our article on the different types of holiday cacti and how to tell them apart.
Note: For simplicity’s sake, we refer to all three of these species as “Christmas cactus” on this page, since this is the most commonly used term and our care advice applies to all of them!