Ultimate Guide: How to Care for Schlumbergera truncata Plant

Schlumbergera Truncata is a small to medium sized cactus plant typically between 4 and 10 inches in size. This plant has several varieties with different colors of flowers and different length of flower stems. The flowers on this plant are globe shaped and 1/2 inch long.
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The Schlumbergera truncata or Thanksgiving cactus is one of the most well-known houseplants, and for a good reason. They produce brilliant, tubular blooms in lilac or pink colors when they bloom. 

Their lovely flowers, long blooming period, and low maintenance requirements make them a great plant to have at home. I’m guessing that someone in your family has a Thanksgiving plant!

This Schlumbergera plant has three main varieties: 

  • Thanksgiving cactus
  • Christmas cactus
  • Easter cactus 

Magically, all of them bloom nearing their respective holidays. 

How Do You Look After the Schlumbergera truncata Plant?

The Schlumbergera truncata is a lovely, winter-flowering houseplant with gorgeous flowers that flourish for a long time.

Pro Tip: Unlike other cacti, Schlumbergera truncata and its relatives do not grow in hot, dry places such as deserts or plains. These epiphytic succulents are native to Brazil’s tropical rainforests, where they thrive on other trees’ branches and absorb the high humidity, indirect sunlight, and warm temperatures.

The plant is easy to maintain and look after. Read on to find out some care tips for growing Schlumbergera truncata:

Planting Schlumbergera truncata: Potting

Select a pot with a drainage hole in the bottom when choosing one for a Thanksgiving cactus. This prevents the soil from becoming too wet when watering.

For the soil type, Thanksgiving cactus thrive in soil mixes designed for succulents or cacti. However, the essential thing is that your potting soil drains well.

When your Thanksgiving cactus thrives, keep the plants in a location with bright, indirect light. A well-lit bathroom or an east-facing window are both ideal places. When you expose the plant to direct sunlight, it might damage its delicate leaves.

Schlumbergera truncata in a pot.
Select a pot with a drainage hole in the bottom.

For temperature conditions, the plant prefers a daytime temperature of up to 70°F and an evening temperature of 60-65°F mimicking the tropical conditions.

Thanksgiving cactus prefer high humidity levels; because of this, your kitchen or bathroom creates an ideal spot for the plant. If you live in a high humid environment, you can have it anywhere in your home. Likewise, if you keep it in a dry atmosphere, you may put a tray of pebbles with water inside the planter to increase humidity levels.

During summer, place Thanksgiving cactus in an unheated porch or garden with a shade until the temperature falls below 50°F. Always remember to keep them away from direct sunlight.

How to Water Schlumbergera truncata

Because they are native to tropical and subtropical forests, Schlumbergera truncata are more thirsty than other cacti and other succulents. Make sure to give this plant enough water when the top inch of soil becomes dry. This plant cannot withstand low moisture or dry soil; it will die.

Take into account the season, weather, and environment when watering your Thanksgiving cactus. Water it every two to three days if you keep it outside in a hot, dry environment.

A irrigation system.
Water it every two to three days if you keep it outside in a hot, dry environment.

In a cool and humid climate, such as indoors, the Schlumbergera thrives on a once-weekly watering. During the fall and early winter months, reduce your watering to encourage bloom.

The Thanksgiving cactus is very susceptible to over-watering. The plant can get fungal rot disease if the soil is too wet, causing its leaves to fall off.

To prevent overwatering while still ensuring that the plant gets enough moisture, set up a tray of water near it or use a spray bottle to mist your cactus regularly.

What is The Right Soil for Schlumbergera truncata?

Remember, you need to prepare and have the soil that represents Schlumbergera’s natural environment, and Schlumbergera grows in tree crevices with decaying matter all around it. Hence it prefers acidic soil.

A soil being transferred on the container.
Schlumbergera prefers acidic soil.

Schlumbergera truncata prefers rich, porous soil mixed with plenty of organic matter. A good option is soil designed for citrus trees and cacti.

How to Fertilize Schlumbergera truncata?

When the flower buds start to form, use a succulent plant food according to the directions on the label to promote robust growth and produce many flowers.

Fertilize twice a month during the bloom season, then wait to add fertilizer again until the plant starts actively growing in the spring.

How to Get Your Schlumbergera truncata to Bloom

Thanksgiving cactus blooms in cooler temperatures and extended darkness periods. If your schlumbergera is not blooming, it might be in a high temperature surrounding or receiving too much light. 

A flower pot.
It blooms in cooler temperatures.

Here are some pro tips to have your Thanksgiving cacti bloom:

  • To trigger blooming, expose it to prolonged darkness of at least 14 hours and less exposure to light between 8 to 10 hours for at least five weeks. If you have solid interior lighting at night, you’ll need to cover your cactus or relocate it to a location with less or no light.
  • When the flower buds develop, they are most likely to flourish at 50 and 60°F.
  • You may start the budding process earlier by exposing the plant to temperatures of around 45°F for several nights in a row.
  • Ensure to water the plant regularly throughout its blooming process. If the plant becomes overly dry, it may drop its buds.

Don’t worry if the cactus sheds its buds one winter: it should flourish the next season!

How to Propagate Schlumbergera truncata

Thanksgiving cactus is easy to grow, and the best part is that you may give them to your family as Christmas or Thanksgiving presents. You can propagate Schlumbergera cactus from cuttings or seeds.

To begin the propagation process from cuttings, use a pruning shear to make a small Y-shaped cutting from the mother plant stem. Ensure you take two to four joint Schlumbergera pieces and are healthy.

To prevent excessive moisture build-up and root rot, allow the cuttings to rest and dry for at most 12 hours. Once the cuttings are completely dry, place them in a container with well-draining soil (cactus and succulent soil mix).

Place the freshly potted cuttings in a well-lit place with indirect light, and they will start rooting. You should water the potting sparingly until the plant has grown and acclimated to the new environment. 

A plant in the pot is wrapped in a paper.
It can survive in the same pot for several years without repotting.

The first indication that the cuttings have settled in their new environment is when new growth emerges at the tips of their leaves.

Don’t worry if your plant droops a bit in the beginning. This condition is entirely normal, and the plant will usually look better as it adapts to its new surroundings.

Pro Tip: Thanksgiving cactus does not require as much repotting over time as other cacti, and it can survive in the same pot for several years without repotting. Although, you should repot it every year or once in two years to offer more nutrients promoting healthy growth.

Common Pests and Disease Affecting Schlumbergera truncata

Mealybugs: this plant may be susceptible to pests, especially mealybugs, and, if over-watered, root rot. If you notice any diseases on its leaves, prune the damaged leaves and repot the plant onto clean soil.

Blossom drop: If your Thanksgiving cactus is under any type of stress, it will most likely shed its blooms. This may be due to the amount of light or a rapid temperature change. Also, make sure your soil isn’t overly dry while the buds are developing.

Shriveling: The stems can shrill as a result of the plant being subjected to extreme heat and direct sunshine. However, root deterioration owing to over or under watering is the leading cause.

Non-flowering: Non-flowering might be due to the day length not shortening or/and temperatures not dropping below 60°F, as in the case of fall. For example, if a plant is near an artificial light source after dark and the temperature does not drop below 60°F.

Things to Note About Thanksgiving Cactus

Toxicity of Schlumbergera truncata: The plant is considered a low-toxicity option. Vomiting and diarrhea have been reported in dogs who consume significant amounts of the plant. When ingested in small amounts, there are usually low levels of toxicity.

Is Schlumbergera truncata a house plant? The Thanksgiving cactus is typically kept as a houseplant. In the hotter climates, such as those with temperatures more than 70°F, you can grow it outside in partial shade year-round. 

Where to buy Schlumbergera truncata plant: The Thanksgiving plant is available in many gardening stores and nurseries starting in the fall. This plant makes an ideal present to gardeners, and hence during holidays, it might be the right time to make a purchase.

Bottom Line

The Schlumbergera truncata is a low-maintenance plant with lovely blooms. When situated correctly in an area with plenty of indirect light, extended hours of darkness, and enough moisture, this versatile plant will amaze you with new blooming cycles throughout the year.

You may take cuttings from a healthy, robust Schlumbergera truncata and transplant them into attractive pots to offer as gifts. Everyone will be pleasantly surprised, especially when they learn that you grew the plants yourself.

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