Each November stores across the nation market the Thanksgiving cactus (Schlumbergera truncata). A native of Brazil, this common houseplant grows approximately 24 inches in height. In the wild the plant grows as an epiphyte, rooted on a tree limb instead of in the soil. The Thanksgiving cactus forms flat, thick dark green leaves and a wealth of blossoms. The flowers measure approximately 3 inches. They appear in shades of pink, white, purple, cream, red and orange. Offering an amazing lifespan, it can bloom year after year.
Transport the Schlumbergera truncata quickly from the store to the house because drastic temperature changes will cause the plant to drop all its blossoms. During the winter months, when the plant is commonly sold in stores, it can easily suffer quick temperature changes when purchased and transported.
Place the plant in direct sunlight in the late fall, but make sure the plant receives less then 12 hours of direct sunlight during the fall and winter to encourage the plant to set holiday buds. During the spring and summer months, place the plant in partial sunlight or in diffused light. Choose a location with no drafts, because drafty conditions can severely stunt a Thanksgiving cactus.
Maintain a cool nighttime temperature of 55 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit during the fall and winter months and a daytime temperature between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit all year long. Cool night temperatures in the fall and winter will often allow the plant to repeat bloom during the winter months.
Water the plant when the soil dries out. The Schlumbergera truncata does not tolerate wet roots for an extended time.
Fertilize the Schlumbergera truncata using a water soluble indoor houseplant fertilizer. Apply fertilizer monthly from November to April. Refrain from fertilizing the rest of the year.
Repot every three years. The Schlumbergera truncata does well when slightly rootbound.