Now that we are officially in the Christmas season, it’s time to once again continue our quest for a true Christmas cactus.
But, you might be asking as you look at the picture of my Schlumbergera truncata blooming now, why would you go on a quest looking for something I already have?
Let me explain.
Technically, the Schlumbergera I have pictured blooms around Thanksgiving, with no assistance from me other than watering it.
It is a Thanksgiving cactus.
You probably have one in bloom too, or have at least seen them in the stores in bloom while you were shopping for Thanksgiving dinner.
What my quest is for is Schlumbergera bridgesii, a “true” Christmas cactus, which would bloom just a little bit later. I don’t think I’ve ever seen one for sale, at least not since I learned the key difference between it and all the other Schlumbergera species and hybrids sold.
Let me explain.
Each stem of this plant is made up of segments called phylloclades. (New fancy word alert!)
On a true Christmas cactus, there will be no little points on the edges of the phylloclade. On the Thanksgiving cactus, there are little points along the edges, which is really probably a hybrid of some kind.
Some of you may wonder why I don’t just do an online search, find one, and buy it. Wouldn’t that be easy? Try it, let me know what you don’t find. Plus, that would take all the fun out of the hunt. I want to just walk into a plant store or garden center, or even a grocery store, and suddenly see one sitting there all in bloom with its smooth-edged phylloclades.
Wouldn’t that be exciting?
I’ve been looking for years.
And deep down, I know I’m probably not going to find one like that, because they’ve “improved” the Christmas cactus through hybridization probably to the point where if I saw the species, I’d be a bit disappointed. (No pun intended on the use of the word “point” in that sentence.)
But it’s fun to consider the possibility of a true Christmas cactus out there somewhere, which is why I always look over all those holiday cacti whenever I see them for sale.
If you want to read more about the differences between a Thanksgiving cactus, a true Christmas cactus, and yes, an Easter cactus, check out this article I wrote last year for Family Handyman.
If you want to join me on my quest, please do. As a bonus, sometimes I find a Christmas rose in bloom and buy it, while my search for a true Christmas cactus continues.