How To Tell The Difference Between Thanksgiving, Christmas, And Easter Cacti


For those enchanted by the allure of plants and the therapeutic joy of gardening, the Christmas cactus is likely a familiar and cherished companion. However, the world of festive cacti extends beyond the Christmas variety, encompassing the Thanksgiving and Easter cacti. The similarities among these species often lead to confusion, but understanding the nuances in their characteristics can bring clarity to the distinctions.

Thanksgiving Cactus:

Contrary to its name, the Thanksgiving cactus may surprise enthusiasts by blooming as early as November. A key distinguishing feature is its leaves, adorned with pointy spines sporting two to four points on each side. The blooms, appearing in shades of pink, orange, red, or white, are accompanied by bright yellow pollen, a telltale sign of the Thanksgiving cactus.

Christmas Cactus

The Christmas cactus, as its name implies, typically blooms in December. While occasional spring blossoms are not uncommon, the rounded or scalloped leaves set it apart from its Thanksgiving counterpart. The flowers bear a striking resemblance to Thanksgiving cactus blooms, yet the pollen takes on a distinctive pink hue.

Easter Cactus

Belonging to a different botanical family, the Easter cactus graces the late winter and early spring with a vibrant display of multicolored blooms. Diverging from the Thanksgiving and Christmas cacti, this variety showcases its unique charm in a broader spectrum of colors.

Care and Maintenance

Despite their differences, caring for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter cacti follows similar guidelines. These resilient plants thrive in bright, indirect sunlight. A common misconception about cacti’s water needs is debunked—while they prefer well-draining soil, they do require thorough watering, allowing the soil to fully dry out before the next hydration. With these considerations in mind, these delightful cacti prove to be low-maintenance companions, injecting bursts of color into dull and dreary surroundings.


Armed with the knowledge of these subtle differentiators, you can now confidently distinguish between Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter cacti. Whether gifting or receiving these botanical treasures, their unique characteristics and low-maintenance nature make them not just ornamental additions but enduring symbols of natural beauty in every season.

images source : iStock – NMSU Desert Blooms