How to Care for a Thanksgiving Cactus Plant

I bought a plant that has a card saying it’s a Thanksgiving Cactus. How is a Thanksgiving Cactus different than a Christmas Cactus? Is the care different? How do I get it to flower.

Thanksgiving Cactus Description: Just like the name says, a Thanksgiving Cactus (Schlumbergera truncata) blooms around Thanksgiving. Its a relative of the Christmas Cactus (Schlumbergera bridgesii) which blooms around Christmas. The leaves of a Thanksgiving Cactus are flat and wide and have serrated leaves. The leaves of a Christmas Cactus have smooth edges. Both a Thanksgiving and a Christmas Cactus are easy care plants that  bloom for many weeks and live for many years.  There are several things that play a key role in helping a Thanksgiving Cactus to bloom at the right time. This is a thermo-photoperiodic plant, the amount of light and and the proper temperature determines if and when the plant flowers. So starting about 4-6 weeks before you want your Thanksgiving Cactus to bloom, provide 12 hours a day of light and 12 hours a day of  darkness. During this time, the ideal night- time temperature should be 50°-60°F
(10°-15.6°C). Reduce your watering slightly and do not soak the soil, only moisten the top few inches.  Although a Thanksgiving Cactus needs fertilizer when actively developing leaves, once the buds appear do not feed the plant. Remove dead flowers as soon as possible to help the plant continue to bloom.
How to Care for a Thanksgiving Cactus
Light: A Thanksgiving Cactus likes bright indirect lightVery few houseplants should be placed in direct sun. High light refers only to bright indirect light since direct sun often burns the leaves of indoor houseplants. An area that is too hot and dry encourages Spider Mites and causes blooms to quickly fade. A northern exposure really doesn't provide enough light for high light plants. These plants need to be placed directly in front of an east-facing window, within 1-3 feet of a west-facing window, and within 5 ft. of a south facing window. A high light area has over 300 ft. candles of light., but no direct sun for most of the year. Starting about 4-6 weeks before you want your Thanksgiving Cactus to bloom, provide 12 hours a day of light and 12 hours a day of  darkness. Once the buds appear you can move the plant back into bright indirect lightVery few houseplants should be placed in direct sun. High light refers only to bright indirect light since direct sun often burns the leaves of indoor houseplants. An area that is too hot and dry encourages Spider Mites and causes blooms to quickly fade. A northern exposure really doesn't provide enough light for high light plants. These plants need to be placed directly in front of an east-facing window, within 1-3 feet of a west-facing window, and within 5 ft. of a south facing window. A high light area has over 300 ft. candles of light..
Water:  Keep the soil of a Thanksgiving Cactus barely moist most of the year, when the plant is actively growing. After your Thanksgiving Cactus has finished flowering , water less and keep the soil dryer. If you allow the soil to get too dry, the stems will start to shrivel and look wilted.  Fortunately, once you water, the stems will perk up. When new growth starts to appear in the early spring, resume your regular watering schedule.
fertilizerPlants need fertilizer only when they are actively growing. Slow growing plants in low light require very little plant food. Too much fertilizer is worse than not enough. Most plants prefer a water soluble plant food at 1/2 the recommended strength. Plants that are in bloom or dormant should not be fertilized. Houseplant food contains nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K). A fertilizer containing these elements in equal proportion is considered a balanced plant food. Nitrogen helps in photosynthesis and encourages the growth of leaves and stems. Potassium and phosphorus also help in photosynthesis and aid in root and flower development. Most fertilizers have trace elements of other minerals that are lacking in the soil but are necessary for good plant growth. Fertilizers have a high salt content. If a plant is not producing new leaves and doesn’t absorb the fertilizer, salts build up in the soil. These salts can burn the roots, discolor the leaves, and cause new growth to be small.: Feed a Thanksgiving Cactus monthly from early spring to around September. Use a balanced, water soluble fertilizerPlants need fertilizer only when they are actively growing. Slow growing plants in low light require very little plant food. Too much fertilizer is worse than not enough. Most plants prefer a water soluble plant food at 1/2 the recommended strength. Plants that are in bloom or dormant should not be fertilized. Houseplant food contains nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K). A fertilizer containing these elements in equal proportion is considered a balanced plant food. Nitrogen helps in photosynthesis and encourages the growth of leaves and stems. Potassium and phosphorus also help in photosynthesis and aid in root and flower development. Most fertilizers have trace elements of other minerals that are lacking in the soil but are necessary for good plant growth. Fertilizers have a high salt content. If a plant is not producing new leaves and doesn’t absorb the fertilizer, salts build up in the soil. These salts can burn the roots, discolor the leaves, and cause new growth to be small. that contains magnesium. Always dilute your plant food to 1/2 the recommended strength.
Humidity: Even though this plant is called a cactus, it does like humidity at 50% or more.
Temperature: In order for the flower buds on a Thanksgiving Cactus to set properly, the correct temperature is very important. If the room is too warm, the buds will not set and the plant will not bloom. Once the buds start to develop,  the day the temperature should be 60-65°F (16°-18°C).  At night the temperature should be about 10 degrees cooler. After the buds have set and the flowers are starting to appear, the temperature in the room can be about 10 degrees warmer, 70-75°F (21°-24°C) during the day and 60°-70°F (16°-21°C) at night.
Flower buds on Thanksgiving Cactus - Houseplant411
Thanksgiving Cactus