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Schlumbergera truncata is the Thanksgiving cactus. It is called a leaf cactus but is not a true cactus. Rather it is an epiphyte, those plants which live on other plants. The leaves are broad and flat with slight serrations on the edges in the Thanksgiving vs. Christmas cactus, which has smoother edges. The flowers appear in primarily in the fall but bloom sporadically into spring.
These tropical cacti are surprisingly easy to keep happy indoors or out in our mild low desert weather. They require fast draining soil but because they grow naturally on decaying matter they do require added compost or fertilizer. If growing outside, allow the top 2' of soil to dry out before watering. For growing inside, allow the soil to completely dry out in between waterings. If you see the leaves wrinkle a bit, you know you need to give the plant a good soak.
Growing Plants in the Desert — Important Information
The information presented here is, to the best of my knowledge, accurate and based on my research from reliable sources, observations I have made of plants growing in my, and other gardens I have visited, and observations of the plants in their native habitats. I would appreciate your feedback and experience to help me educate others!
Cacti: In my experience, cacti are much happier in the filtered shade here in the low desert of the Coachella Valley. Colors are more vibrant and they bloom more profusely, especially the non-native varieties. If you pay attention to how our native barrel and beavertail opuntia grow in the wild, it is frequently tucked in the rocks under creosote or another shrub.
Light Requirements: I have found that in our desert (Sonoran/Colorado) “full sun” plants can take and appreciate the late afternoon filtered sun, especially in the hot summer months.