Schlumbergera truncata ‘Sunset Dancer’

Common Name: “Thanksgiving Cactus”; “Holiday Cactus”; mistakenly called “Christmas Cactus”

Note: This particular variety of Holiday Cactus is “Thanksgiving Cactus”. “Christmas Cactus” is Schlumbergera bridgesii. Another Holiday-themed cactus is “Easter Cactus”, or Hatiora gaertneri.

Read about the differences between the three varieties of Holiday Cactus.

Scientific Classification:
Order: Caryophyllales
Family: Cactaceae
Sub-Family: Cactoideae
Genus: Schlumbergera
Species: S. truncata
Cultivar: ‘Sunset Dancer’

Native To: Brazil

Growing Specs: Unlike most cacti that grow in dry and arid climates, epiphytic cacti are found growing on trees in Central and South American rainforests.

  • Appearance: Holiday Cactus is a type of epiphytic cacti with stems composed of flattened segments with 2-3 teeth along the edges. The individual segments are up to 2.5 inches long and 1.5 inches wide.
  • Flowering: Coral-toned flowers bloom around May in their natural habitat, but around the Thanksgiving holiday in cultivation in the Northern Hemisphere.
  • Hardiness: Hardy to 35-40 degrees F. Some protection from winter cold and wet recommended.

Care Requirements: Since this plant is native to rainforests, it will need significantly more water than most cacti or succulents. It does not thrive in full sun or direct sunlight. On the other hand, it needs enough sunlight in order to bloom, and prefers diffused sun or part shade. Be sure to give it well-draining soil, but don’t let it dry out completely between waterings.

Check out these tips from World of Succulents on growing Jungle Cacti.

Propagation: Allow leaf cutting to callous over until planting directly in soil.

Toxicity: “Holiday Cactus” varieties are non-toxic to pets. Check out my Pet Safety Guide for more information.

Xylem Rising’s Observations: Morning sun with afternoon shade is best. It does need decent light, but it doesn’t want full sun or a lot of heat. Morning sun is less strong than afternoon sun, so try to place it somewhere with Eastern exposure. This plant is on my Top 7 Houseplants that are Completely Indestructible list. It’s very easy to care for, and it will readily bloom when you least expect it. I bought this cactus in August 2017, and it was supposed to bloom around the Thanksgiving holiday. It didn’t bloom until January 2018, but it only bloomed two flowers. It laid dormant all spring and summer of 2018 until the beginning of August, which is when it started blooming like crazy! The entire plant had blooms. I kept it outside all summer in part shade, and it responded well. I took it inside when night temperatures went under 40 degrees F.


My first flower!


All the blooms!


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All photo rights belong to Cristie R. Kiley. Please ask permission before taking.

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