A Plant That Really Messes Up Its Name and Seasons

"holiday"  "cactus"

I do a post about this plant–which I call the “holiday” cactus, not because I’m trying to be politically correct, but because even it doesn’t know what holiday it wants to bloom for!

I took the above photo on November 7. This is not a plant I own. It’s a plant from my office and you can see it’s coming into full bloom right about now. So perhaps we could call this the Veteran’s Day cactus, this year.

Except let’s not really even call it a cactus, folks, because it’s not. Treat it like you would a cactus–you know, bright sun and watering only every month or so–and you’ll have a dead plant pretty darn fast! That’s because this plant is actually a succulent. And it likes bright indirect light and much more frequent watering. I water the one at work just about every week, but that’s because it’s in a warm place. At home, I might water once every two weeks because my house is cooler and my window is darker.

I did a post last year on the history of these types of plants, where they are found, and how to care for them. You can find that post here.

Christmas cacti

These are my own 3 plants in various stages of bud. Since they sit next to one another on the same windowsill, even I don’t know what makes them bud up at different rates in my own home. They sort of have minds of their own. And that goes for bloom times as well. In various years, I too have had them in bloom around Halloween, around Thanksgiving, and in mid-December. I can’t say I’ve ever had one blooming anywhere close to Christmas.

west window

Here is this window. You’ll see the plant to the far right looks very much like the other three (but not of course like the ponytail palm! If I can get that to bloom, I’m really doing something!) That one on the right is an entirely different species, sometimes known as the Easter Cactus (which is of course ridiculous since Easter can fall anywhere from late March to late April and in my house the plant might bloom, if I’m lucky from mid May to June!).

I talk about the differences in these two species–and the species names–in that post referred to above. But for now, I’m pretty sure you won’t find any stores selling them so you won’t accidentally be able to buy one. But just in case, here’s how different the “foliage” looks.


Just like on the windowsill, the “holiday cactus” is on the left and the Easter cactus is on the right.

Hope this helps.

4 thoughts on “A Plant That Really Messes Up Its Name and Seasons

  1. Benjamin November 14, 2014 / 10:27 am

    Thanks for sharing! I inherited one of these beauties from a great aunt. She had it as long as I can remember/ I reckon it to be over 50 years old…pretty impressive houseplant! 😉

    • gardendaze November 14, 2014 / 10:44 am

      I have heard of these plants being long lived but 50 years is quite impressive! Wow! Thanks for letting me know that. I love stories about “pass along plants” like this. I have a begonia from a neighbor that I inherited. It’s about 35 years old now and one of my treasured plants. I always post about it in the spring.


      • Benjamin November 14, 2014 / 11:49 am

        I love pass along plants as well! I can’t wait to read about your begonia. We have a peony that was started from a peony that my wife’s grandfather gave to her grandmother on their wedding day. (I opined about it here, if you like to check it out: http://nestofsquirrels.com/2014/05/17/peony/) Cheers, Ben

  2. gardendaze November 14, 2014 / 11:52 am

    Lovely Peony! I inherited one that looks very much like it when I “married” the house. I’ve moved it, with the others I inherited with the house, because some trees had grown up and shaded them. But they don’t have as lovely a story as yours.

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