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Is it really a Christmas Cactus?

The photos of Thanksgiving and Christmas cacti begin appearing in mid-November through December. Friends post them on Facebook: great ruffled masses of green and pink, magenta, peach, coral, red, lavender, or white, even bicolor cultivars. I am so jealous. We have cats, and we learned long ago that a cat and a Christmas cactus are not a good combination. Bilbo Baggins, our poinsettia-eater of family lore, once polished off a pretty Christmas cactus that was just beginning to reach its full potential.

So how can you tell if you are the proud owner of a Christmas or a Thanksgiving cactus? After all, you want your holiday cactus to bloom at the appropriate time. Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera x buckleyi or S. bridgesii) and its cousin, Thanksgiving cactus (Schlum-bergera truncata), appear similar, but there are subtle differences between the stem segments, or phylloclades, of the two varieties. Christmas cactus phylloclades are rounded, while the segments on Thanksgiving cactus are s...

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