According to the University of California Agriculture, holiday cacti are sometimes mislabeled as Zygocactus, an old scientific name for plants in the genus Schlumbergera. Although the name Zygocactus represents both Christmas and Thanksgiving cacti, they are two distinct species with distinct appearances and blooming habits.
Low-maintenance holiday cacti, such as the Christmas and Thanksgiving cacti (Schlumbergera truncata), give color to interiors during the autumn and winter months when orchid-like flowers bloom.
Is a Zygocactus a Christmas Cactus? The Zygocactus (Schlumbergera truncata) is sometimes offered as a Holiday Cactus Thanksgiving Cactus, which might confuse.
A Thanksgiving cactus blooms 4 to 6 weeks earlier than a Christmas cactus and has a serrated margin on its succulent leaves, although they belong to the same family.
These plants are nearly comparable in appearance and produce flower buds and blooms in nearly the same shape and color.
Succulents are tropical plants that include zygocactus. They develop segmented, fleshy green stems with no leaves. Late fall, the arching stems flaunt buds and blooms at the apex, giving a brilliant show of color.
In our guide, once you know you have a genuine Zygo cactus, you can learn more about zygocactus care indoors rather than being confused.
By the end, you’ll know the difference and how to care for one of the best indoor plants you can find. (Read Sunburned Succulent – What To Do)
Is Zygocactus Same as Christmas Cactus?
ZyThanksgiving Cactus is also known as gotecactus. It is sold as Christmas cactus, “Thank you cactus,” or “Holy cactus” in various stores during the holidays.
The Zygocactus is a Thanksgiving Cactus, although some growers advertise it as a Christmas Cactus. The Christmas Cactus blooms a few weeks later than the Thanksgiving Cactus and has smooth flattened stems, whereas the Thanksgiving Cactus has serrated stems.
The flowers of the zygocactus emerge in October or November, although it often blooms until far beyond Christmas, earning it the nickname “Christmas cactus.”
Does Zygocactus Like Full Sun?
Zygocactus needs just the right amount of light and must be kept out of direct sunlight for extended periods. When the days are shorter and the nights are shorter, it blooms. Because the plants are delicate, their natural flower growth may be disrupted if grown on a balcony or in direct sunlight.
The Zygocactus, despite its name, isn’t a true cactus, at least not one that grows in the desert. It’s an epiphytic cactus from South American jungles and in damp soil. Despite its succulent nature, it is not drought-tolerant, and it comes from South America, where you expect it to be hot.
A Zygocactus thrives in bright or medium indirect light from a sunny window, but not direct sun. Therefore, grow your cactus in a bright eastern window or a few feet away from a western or southern window.
If you hang a sheer curtain in the window to offer bright indirect light, you can grow the Thanksgiving cactus closer to the window. Trees or other light-filtering objects outside the window will allow you to grow your Zygocactus directly on a sunny windowsill. (Learn How To Save A Dying Rhododendron)
Don’t let the name fool you into thinking your holiday cactus requires bone-dry soil.
Zygocactus loves well-drained soil that is evenly damp but not fully dry. Water them thoroughly until the water runs freely through the bottom of the pot from the drainage hole, then let them dry before watering them again.
Before watering your cactus, make sure the soil feels dry. It’s time to water your Thanksgiving cactus when you let the top 1 to 2 inches of soil dry. You can stand your plant pot on a pebble tray to ensure water doesn’t run everywhere when watering.
Soil and Fertilizer
Thanksgiving Cacti, like Christmas Cacti and other holiday cacti, require well-draining soil that stays slightly moist between waterings. A high-quality cactus mix is a fantastic choice for your Zygocactus’ potting soil. You do not, however, need to buy a ready-made mix. It is possible to make your soil mixture.
To prepare your potting mix for your Thanksgiving Cactus (crab cactus), combine peat moss, one part perlite, and one part compost; you can even add coarse sand to improve draining.
This formula offers aeration, drains well, and holds enough water to give your plant the moisture it requires.
This combination also allows you to utilize your compost from a kitchen composter like Lomi, ensuring that your plants continually get new nutrients.
Fertilizer is required to maintain your Zygocactus plant healthy and replenish nutrients in the soil. A diluted solution of liquid houseplant fertilizer is ideal. When the plant is actively growing in the spring, summer, and fall, dilute it to 1/4 strength and apply it to your Zygocactus every week to ten days.
When the plant finishes blooming in late winter, don’t fertilize it. It needs a rest period after new growth and long periods of active development, bloom, and bloom with brightly colored flowers over the summer months.
Temperature & Humidity
Indoor temperatures and humidity levels don’t bother Zygocactus. It favors humidity levels of over 50% but will tolerate lower humidity levels. Similarly, Zygocactus thrives in temperatures between 60- and 65-degrees Fahrenheit but will tolerate slightly higher temps. Consider putting your Thanksgiving cactus in a cool room if your thermostat is set higher than 65 degrees.
They are susceptible to hot and cold gusts, so don’t plant them near heat sources like furnace ducts or vents. When the air conditioner is turned on in the summer, keep an eye out for cold drafts coming from these vents as well.
How to Get Your Zygocactus to Bloom
When Zygocactus live outside, they usually bloom in the fall. If you want them to bloom inside your home, you might have to help them out a little bit first.
You can identify between the two species as the stem segments are flat and smooth besides the toothed edges. Here are a few tips on proper care to help your plant bloom and thrive year-round.
- Move your cactus to a room with cooler temperatures in September. If you want the plant to fully bloom, it should be kept at a temperature of between 50 and 60 degrees.
- For 12 hours a night, give the plant no light.
- If you start to see buds on the plant, give it a liquid fertilizer from your kitchen or bathroom sink. They look like little dots of color on top of the thick stems. Buds are formed at the top of the stems.
- Move the plant to where it will bloom in the winter. But be careful, though! There are things that can cause the buds to fall off before they are in full bloom, like hot or cold drafts or not enough light.
- Do not put these plants near heating vents or drafty windows. Choose a sunny spot to keep them blooming.
How Long Does A Zygocactus Last?
Cacti are long-lived plants that are frequently passed down from generation to generation. When properly cared for, they have survived for over 100 years. Unfortunately, that implies you’ll probably have to report your Zygocactus several times throughout your life.
These plants want to be snug in their pots and aren’t bothered if they’re a bit root bound, but they do require space for their roots to expand. So to keep your holiday cactus healthy and happy, repot them every three years. When they are actively developing, the optimum time to repot them is in the spring or early summer.
All holiday cactus species require identical growing conditions and maintenance to stimulate blooming. Cool temperatures and lengthy periods of darkness overnight encourage flowering, so keep these plants in a cool room with plenty of light.
Place these plants near a window that faces west, east, or north, where they will receive bright, indirect sunshine. For optimal results, keep nighttime temperatures at 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Full daylight is good in the autumn and winter, but direct sunlight in the summer can cause holiday cactus to turn yellow and should be avoided. (Learn How To Take Care Of Ferns)
When the dirt on your Christmas cacti seems dry, water it until the excess runs out the bottom of the pot. Holiday cacti should be fed every two weeks with 1/2 teaspoon of water-soluble fertilizer diluted in 1 gallon of water.
Use a blooming fertilizer, such as 7-9-5, or a general-purpose fertilizer, such as 10-10-10. To avoid root burn, apply the fertilizer to damp soil.