Issue: Novem1er 24, 2001

Christmas cactus bloomed early


My Christmas cactus has already bloomed! What is wrong?


Yours is probably the Thanksgiving cactus rather than the Christmas cactus. There are two common species and many varieties in the genus Schlumbergera. This is an interesting group of cacti native to New World tropical rain forests. Because they vary in their natural geographic habitats, some are genetically programmed to bloom earlier, others later. Therefore, there are some that will bloom early, at Thanksgiving, and others that bloom later, at Christmastime.

There are also many different color forms, and if you look at the different species, you will notice that their flattened stems (which serve as leaves) vary in appearance. Some will have points on the lobes along the edge, others will be rounded. The Thanksgiving cacti (Schlumbergera truncata) often have pointed lobes, while the Christmas cacti (Schlumbergera bridgesii) are more often rounded.

By having both Thanksgiving and Christmas cacti, you can extend the period of bloom of these exotic tropical cacti.

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Marisa Y. Thompson, PhD, is the Extension Horticulture Specialist, in the Department of Extension Plant Sciences at the New Mexico State University Los Lunas Agricultural Science Center, email:, office: 505-865-7340, ext. 113.


For more gardening information, visit the NMSU Extension Horticulture page at Desert Blooms and the NMSU Horticulture Publications page.

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