Schlumbergera (Zygocactus, Thanksgiving cactus).


I’ve had it a month and I haven’t yet exterminated my newly-acquired Zygocactus!  I’m really enjoying the blooms of my newly-acquired Zygocactus!

I don’t know why I have trouble keeping Zygocactus* alive…I keep hearing that they’re the “easiest plants in the world to grow,” accompanied by enthusiastic testimony about specimens twenty feet wide and three hundred years old, that bloom sixteen times a year with absolutely no input from the gardener. (Okay, I exaggerate, but only slightly).  I usually kill mine within two weeks of purchase, it’s like they come with a self-destruct button or something.  I wake up one morning and poof! – they’ve completely cratered on my windowsill.

I mean,  I’m extremely careful not to overwater.  Well, actually, it’s more “neglect” than “care” – I must admit that all my houseplants exist in a state of drought most of their lives because I get busy and forget to water them.  You’d think I couldn’t kill cacti of any kind, but I have a pretty good track record.  (Why, when I read that last sentence back, does it sound suspiciously like bragging?).

But this time…I think I’ve finally found The One!  Or maybe I’m getting too excited about our one-month anniversary, and shouldn’t put the cart before the horse and all that.  Wish us a happy ever after!   😉

Do you grow Zygocacti?

*The name Zygocactus is kinda sorta fascinating – well, to me, anyway – as it refers to the way that these plants are segmented, and is not the genus name (which is actually Schlumbergera).


  1. This sounds like my experience with bonsai trees. Unfortunately, my niece didn’t get the memo that I was a bonsai killer and she gave me one last year. I am still trying to figure out what to do with the ceramic pot it came in. Do I pull out the dead bonsai and reuse the pot? Hmmmm.

  2. I have a Christmas cactus orphanage, I have so many that people have dropped off to me after they bloom because “they don’t grow in their house”. I think neglect works, as does having them in a north facing window touching the glass. The side that touches the glass always buds out first. I always let them get quite dry before watering. I hope your cactus does well.

    • I hope neglect is the answer, because I’m willing to give it all the neglect it might need, LOL! I like your tip about a north facing window touching the glass. Mine is in a north facing window right now, so that may be a step in the right direction….

  3. Here’s hoping your very healthy looking cacti lives a long long time. I have a black thumb, kill any plant that I come into contact with, It’s so frustrating. I think your cactus is beautiful.

    • It is frustrating, that’s for sure! Houseplants are certainly more tricky to get the balance down with watering, light etc., than garden plants. (And less forgiving of mistakes we make!). I hope that not “babying” my cactus will ensure a longer lifespan – we’ll see, I guess!

  4. I, too, manage to kill these plants, often in spectacular and gruesome style. Sending you good vibes for keeping this one alive–then you can share your secret of success with me!

    • Wonderful – thanks so much for sending the link! They do have incredible blooms, don’t they? I’ve never had one long enough to gather dust…I’m kind of hoping for that (at least at the moment – we’ll see if I still feel the same if the plant survives that long!).

  5. Good luck with your cactus! Most of them are easy to grow but not really this one (they make it sound like it but not true), so you should be proud you managed to take good care of it 😉
    Happy holidays!

  6. Yes, we have several of these plants. Sometimes they flower at easter, sometimes at christmas. But they are beautiful pink, white colored. I wish you joy with yours!

    • Thank you! I read somewhere there are certain species that flower at Easter and others at Christmas…it’s so nice that you have a few of each so you can enjoy the blooms over more than one season. They have spectacular flowers – pink and white sounds lovely!

  7. Congratulations! I have similar problems with Cyclamen… the latest one lasted almost three months which is a record for me! (It is quite dead now!) My Christmas cactus from last year is still alive, I think, but I don’t think the buds have grown at all and at this rate it might flower by Easter… Enjoy your cactus flowers Sheryl, and have a lovely Christmas!

    • Oh yes, cyclamen! I’ve only ever owned one cyclamen and it lived a few years in the apartment…but I could never get it to flower a second time and it never thrived, it merely survived. Sigh. I understand they are really tricky to keep alive – but they are so beautiful it is probably worth it to keep trying. Hopefully you will have success one of these years!

      Happy Christmas to you, Cathy – have a wonderful holiday season!

  8. Sheryl, your post made me giggle. I have three in our kitchen window, and wonder if they get just the right amount of light and water (which is very little). They’ve been around for years. I’ve not seen this color before. You’ve captured it well.

    Here’s a thought. You can clip and start new plants from the offshoots. Perhaps you can make a few cuttings to hedge your bets. If the cuttings establish, then you can experiment with different spots around the house.

    Best of luck! Congratulations and Merry Christmas.

  9. I have a lovely salmon-pink one like yours and it is very well-behaved. It puts up with moderate neglect and last year flowered three times. Its usual flowering in November, another in February and again in the spring. It has just had its November one again and I am waiting to see if it flowers again like last year. I have a red Christmas cactus with white at the base of the petals and a few cuttings of a lovely pink one I had that got knocked off a shelf and couldn’t be saved. I also have an Easter cactus which is a Schlumbergera gaertneri. It flowers in June (I don’t think it knows when Easter is) and has red flowers that close at night and the leaves have red edges. I can’t get cyclamen to stay alive. Good luck with your cactus!

    • It sounds like you have some gorgeous cacti – the red and white one sounds particularly spectacular! If I can get this one to keep going, I might try my hand at an Easter one…but I don’t want to rush into things, LOL! Yours sounds beautiful, especially with the red-tinged foliage. Must be really pretty.

  10. Congratulations!! I am deeply impressed! Any indoor plants fall immedeately in a deep depression when trespassing my home and die with in two weeks….so I stick to outdoor plants and flowers in the vases;0) Happy Hollidays, dear Sheryl and I look forward to more of your wonderful posts in 2015 xoxox Johanna

    • LOL that’s usually what my Christmas cactus do…fall into a “deep depression!” (I LOVE that description!). I’m hoping things have changed for the better now. 🙂

      Merry Christmas, Johanna – wishing you and your family the best of the season and all things wonderful for 2015! Cheers!

  11. Sheryl I do grow Zygocactus at least one that my MIL gave me that she has had for 20 yrs, and I have had for 20 yrs…but they get old and this one is only a quarter left…but it is still blooming so I hope it will continue to regenerate and grow again.

  12. Good luck! I’m lucky enough to give them just the neglect they want, which mostly amounts to putting them outside for as much of the year as possible. Put they’ve done well enough. It’s the orchids that never last. Someone must know the secret since they’re all over the stores, but mine always die a slow, uncomfortable death.

    • There is a pleasant-sounding theme running through the comments of everyone who has been successful with Christmas cactus – I’m on board with the whole neglect thing, for sure! 🙂

      Ah, phalaenopsis orchids…they can be very, very difficult…. I suspect a large percentage of them may come with self-destruct buttons as well.

  13. I’ve had my “Christmas” cactus for about 20 years. Through that time it’s bloomed or not, according to what seems to be its own whim but I think I know the answer. It just doesn’t like to be moved around. I used to put it outside in summer. That did nothing for it. It’s sat in an east-facing window and bloomed. Now it sits in a south-facing window and blooms. It will probably sit in the south-facing window for eternity since that’s where it seems happiest, having bloomed there for several years now. Never fertilized, scarcely watered, chewed on by cats–it doesn’t seem to care. Never even repotted in 20 years. I would say definitely thrives on neglect.

    • That’s a really good suggestion as well…I shouldn’t move my new cactus around much. It’s funny how just the slightest change can make a difference to some plants. Once I find the right spot, I should just leave it there. And I love the fact that you haven’t repotted your cactus in 20 years – that sounds like my kind of houseplant, for sure!

  14. Great photo, it looks happy and healthy. When we lived in the country, I’d gather up my laundry every week and take it into Sherwood Park. At Broadmoar Laundry Mat, Chris has a GIANT one in her window that seems to bloom prolifically all year round. I think half of the Park must have a clipping from it. She’s got starters thru out the laundry mat. I have two (count em’, two) houseplants. The cat’s just tear them to pieces. I tried to overwinter a nice palm I had on the front porch, but it’s almost dead. Then I have a prickly cactus that they leave alone. Sounds like I blame the cats but really, I’m rubbish at growing house plants, LOL.

  15. Congrats, Sheryl! That’s good news.
    We got one as a gift early last year and it was full of buds, then blooms. Now it keeps sending out more and more leaves, but no more flowers yet. Maybe it needs more light.

I'm delighted to hear from you - thanks so much for your comments!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.