How To Grow A Thanksgiving Cactus: The Ultimate Guide

by John Griffith

As the leaves turn and the air cools, Thanksgiving approaches, bringing with it a myriad of warm colors, delicious scents, and the delightful Thanksgiving cactus plant. Contrary to its name, this plant is not all about turkeys and pilgrim hats, it’s a stunning succulent that blooms right in time for the holiday season. This stunning cactus, with its vibrant flowers and unique leaf shape, has become a beloved part of many households’ holiday traditions. Unlike the traditional desert cactus, this variety thrives in cooler temperatures and is more akin to a tropical plant, making it an intriguing addition to your festive decor. So, if you’re thinking of adding this beauty to your home, listen up. Today, we will share with you everything you need to know on how to grow and care for this wonderful plant.

This plant is a stunning succulent that blooms right in time for the holiday season

thanksgiving cactus cactus in pink

The ultimate care guide for Thanksgiving cactus

A Thanksgiving cactus can be both a delightful and perplexing houseplant. Known for its vibrant, timely blooms, this festive cactus does require a bit more attention than your average succulent, but it is very much worth the care. Typically native to Brazilian rainforests, it does need specific conditions to thrive. Mastering its care routine is key to ensuring those stunning winter blooms. This involves balancing the right amount of light, water, and temperature – a challenge, but one that’s incredibly rewarding. Unlike the arid-loving cacti, this plant favors a bit of humidity and indirect sunlight, along with careful watering to avoid root rot.

A Thanksgiving cactus can be both a delightful and perplexing houseplant

thanksgiving cactus care guide plant with orange flowers

Location and lighting

First off, you will need to find a cozy spot. This cactus loves bright, indirect sunlight. However, too much direct sun can cause the leaves to turn a sunburned shade of red – and not in a cute, rosy-cheeked way. An east or west-facing window is ideal, as it will provide the plant with the perfect amount of light and warmth.

You will need to find a cozy spot

white thanksgiving cactus

Watering guide

Overwatering is the nemesis of the Thanksgiving cactus. These plants prefer their soil just like their holiday pies – not too wet, not too dry. To help you with this, remember this rule: water when the top inch of the soil feels dry. And remember, during the fall and winter, like most plants, this one also prefers less rather than more.

Overwatering is the nemesis of the Thanksgiving cactus

watering thanksgivign cactus

Temperature and humidity

This cactus is not a fan of drastic changes – it’s more of a ‘set it and forget it’ type. Keep it in a room where the temperature is consistently between 65-75°F. Not only that, but this plant also enjoys a bit of humidity. If your home is on the drier side, consider a small humidifier or a pebble tray with water to add moisture to the air.

This plant prefers some moisture in the air

huimidifier in room

Feeding time

Fertilizing your Thanksgiving cactus is like seasoning your holiday stuffing. Do it right, and it’s delightful, however, do too much, and well, you get the picture. Gardeners recommend fertilizing with a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer every two weeks during the growing season. However, once this season is over make sure to give it a rest in the fall and winter.

Fertilizing your Thanksgiving cactus is a must

fertilizer for plants


Pruning your Thanksgiving cactus is an essential step toward ensuring a healthier and more aesthetically pleasing plant. When pruning, the goal is to encourage the cactus to become fuller and bushier. Start by identifying the older, overgrown, or leggy segments of the plant. Using a gentle touch, pinch or twist these segments off at the natural joints. Be careful not to remove too many segments at once, as this can stress the plant. Ideally, prune your cactus shortly after it finishes blooming to give it time to recover and grow back denser and more vigorous. Regular pruning not only improves the plant’s shape but also promotes better air circulation and light exposure.

Start by identifying the older, overgrown, or leggy segments of the plant

pruning cactus plant


By gently twisting off a few segments – aim for sections with two or three joined segments – you can encourage new growth. These removed segments aren’t destined for the compost heap, though. Instead, they can start a new life. Replant them in moist, well-draining soil, and in time, they’ll root and grow into new plants. It’s a simple and effective way to propagate your cactus, expand your collection, or create gifts for friends and family.

You can easily propagate this plant 

pink thanksgiving cactus

Blooming magic

Here’s the secret sauce for getting those gorgeous blooms: starting in late September, your cactus needs uninterrupted dark periods of about 12-14 hours each night. Think of it as beauty sleep for your plant. This, combined with cooler temperatures, will encourage those stunning flowers to make their grand debut just in time for the holidays.

Even your plant needs beauty sleep

winter cactus blooms in orange

The Thanksgiving cactus, with its whimsical charm and holiday spirit, is more than just a plant, it’s a festive companion that brightens up the colder months. With the right care, it’s not just a seasonal novelty, it can be a long-lasting member of your houseplant family, bringing joy year after year. So this holiday season, as you gather around the table, give a little nod to your blooming cactus friend – a unique symbol of life and color in the midst of winter.

This cactus can make a wonderful addition to your houseplant family

cactus thanksgiving plants

Related Articles

John Griffith

John Griffith is a young, passionate journalist. Writing has been John’s hobby ever since he was a boy. He has worked in some of the UK’s most successful news portals over the course of his professional career but found his forever home at Archzine.