Schlumbergera – Christmas or Thanksgiving Cactus?


I have to admit that I have never really thought about Thanksgiving very much.  Being British, not American, it doesn’t really enter into my calendar of events.  I do like the idea of celebrating the harvest and the previous year’s success,  with family or friends and a slap up dinner though.  Who doesn’t like a good family dinner?  

I can almost hear you thinking, ‘What has this got to do with cacti?’.

Well, one of my cacti is flowering prolifically at the moment.

This is my Schlumbergera. 

I have had it several years now.  It started life as a single leaf which was given to me by a dear old friend many moons ago, shortly before she passed away.  It had a great start, grew a few stems, settled into life nicely, then was eaten right down to the stump one night by my daughters escaped hamster!  (Hammy – was a very cheeky but loveable hamster).

Obviously I forgave him and luckily I rescued my cactus and started it growing again.  It had a couple more years of peaceful and uneventful growing time.  Hammy passed on sadly and was replaced by Snow White, hamster number two. 

One day, just as my cactus was about to flower I made the mistake of moving it to a different windowsill.   I thought we might be able to look at it better whilst it flowered.  To my dismay and disbelief, this coincided with another round of hamster escape episodes and my cactus was decimated yet again, this time by Snow White.    I have no idea what it about these cacti that hamsters like so much, but I can only assume that they must be very tasty to them.   This is Snow White – unlike Hammy, she was a bit of a lunatic.

Anyway, several years later my cactus has finally reached a big enough size to flower.  We no longer have any hamsters and there is no risk of being munched anymore.  The strange thing is I always thought it was a Christmas Cactus.    But, it’s flowering now and unless I’ve been asleep for a month, it’s not Christmas yet.     

I did a little bit of reading last night and realised that there are actually two main types of Schlumbergera.  Christmas ones, (Schlumbergera bridgesii),  and also Thanksgiving ones, (Schlumbergera truncata).   So, I guess mine is a Thanksgiving Cactus, not a Christmas Cactus.  Well I never!

They have very subtle differences but are both beautiful.   Here is one of my others, this one is definitely a Christmas cactus (it’s not flowering yet this year). 

These cacti come in a range of reds, pinks and white and originate from the coastal mountains of Brazil. They naturally grow on shady rocks or high up in trees, hence their habit of trailing ornately over the edge of their pots.

Just to confuse things even further, don’t forget about the Easter Cactus.  The modern name for this is Hatiora gaertneri, but has also been known as the Schlumbergera  gaertneri I believe (as well as other names).   They are incredibly similar, with just subtle differences between the leaves and flowers.  This is one of mine, see if you can spot the difference!

Just in case you have had enough of reading about cacti now, how about a little bit of knitting or crochet?   I haven’t had time to create a pattern of my own for you to make your own Schlumbergera cactus, but I have had a good rummage around on the internet for you to see what was already out there.

There aren’t many!

Here is a crochet pattern from Planet June, looks good but it isn’t free I’m afraid.  (You can click on it to go the pattern page).

Here is another crochet pattern, on Crazy,  this one is paid too, sorry.

This one is free, but unfortunately it’s in Italian, from Dony’s Creations Blog.  I don’t speak Italian so I have no idea how to translate it but maybe you do?   

That’s all I could find.   I could find no knitting patterns at all!  There is obviously a gap in the market, so I really should get creating..

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed my Schlumbergera and it inspires you to get creative.

Happy Thanksgiving!