Longest Lived Houseplants: Christmas Cactus

Longest Lived Houseplants: Christmas Cactus

Posted by Megan Nichols on Nov 13th 2020

Sharing the love of plants with loved ones has been practiced for generations, long before the current indoor plant craze. This can mean purchasing a new plant for someone, or sharing a cutting or division of a treasured plant from your own collection. Some of the best plants to share are those that are easy care and long lived.

Holiday cactus are among those that are passed from generation to generation and are perfect for sharing because they are easy care, easy to divide and propagate, and can live to be over 100 years old.

Holiday cactus are loved for their beautiful flowers that bloom indoors in winter, just when we need a pop of color most. There are three different plants that are collectively known as Holiday cactus. Fittingly, they bloom at different times, giving them their common names of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter cactus.

Though they are true cactus, Holiday cactus grow in the shadier areas of the mountains of Brazil, so they require different care than the desert dwellers we usually think of when we hear the word cactus.

Caring for Holiday Cactus

  • Grow in medium light such as an East facing window, or bright, indirect light.
  • Water to run-through and let drain when top inch of soil is dry.
  • Fertilize with a water soluble fertilizer during periods of active growth.

The plants themselves are long lived and can be enjoyed just for their green growth. But, if getting them to flower year after year is the goal, then some specific measures must be taken.

Holiday cactus are short day plants, so they respond to the days becoming shorter as well as to cooler temperatures. To get Holiday cactus to set bud and bloom, count back 8 weeks from preferred bloom time (keep in mind the type of cactus as it will still want to bloom near it’s normal flowering time) and follow the steps below.

  • Give them 13 hours of uninterrupted darkness.
  • Keep them at about 60-65 degrees during the day and around 55 degrees at night.
  • Keep soil evenly moist during bud set and blooming.
  • Don't saturate soil, but don’t allow the top inch to dry, unlike non-bud and bloom periods.
  • Don’t move them around too much to avoid bud drop.

Blooms will last 6-8 weeks, and their bright colors and unique flower shape they make all the effort worth it! 

Happy Holiday Cactus growing!