All About Identifying Holiday Cacti

Identifying Holiday Cacti

Christmas vs Thanksgiving vs Easter Cactus – Identifying Holiday Cacti

Some of the most common questions we get are “How to identify Holiday Cacti?” or “How to tell the difference between Christmas and Thanksgiving cacti?” or “What’s the difference between Easter and Christmas cacti?”

So why is it so hard to tell the difference between Holiday Cacti? They all look similar to each other and are often sold under the wrong name. On top of that, they can bloom at different times depending on the temperatures in the area. This all makes it very confusing.

Discerning the difference between these holiday cacti is much simpler once you can see them all together. The leaves are different and the flowers are different.

Thanksgiving Cactus

Thanksgiving Cactus Identification

The Thanksgiving Cactus or Schlumbergera truncata is probably the easiest of the Holiday Cacti to identify.

Nicknamed the Crab Claw Cactus or Claw Catus, the leaves are wide with sharp, pointed segments.

Thanksgiving is the only Holiday Cacti with these serrated leaves.

As with the Christmas Cactus, the flowers are tubular and droop downward. However, they tend to be less symmetrical than the Christmas Catus.

Flowers normally bloom in November but it can be earlier or later in the year depending on location and temperatures. Colors are red, pink, white, yellow and shades in between.

Find one here

Christmas Cactus

Christmas cactus identification

The Christmas Cactus or Schlumbergera bridgesii has segmented leaves that are rounder than the Thanksgiving cactus. Instead of being sharp and pointed, the leaf segments are smooth and rounded.

The flowers of the Christmas cactus are elongated and drop downward. Colors are normally shades of white and red but you may be able to find yellow.

As with the Thanksgiving Cactus, blooms are triggered by the temperature drop as the season changes to winter.

Easter Cactus

Easter Cactus Identification

The Easter Cactus leaves look similar to the Christmas Cactus. The leaves are slightly scalloped but much less pronounced than the Christmas Cactus. The Easter Cactus’ leaves tend to be more round and less elongated than the Christmas.

The Easter Cactus has bristles on the end of each leaf whereas the Christmas and Thanksgiving Cacti do not.

By far the easiest way to identify the Easter Cactus is by its flowers. It is the only Holiday Cacti with star-shaped flowers. Christmas and Thanksgiving Cacti have elongated, tubular flowers. They can be pink, red or purple and tend to be a brighter more solid color than the Christmas and Thanksgiving flowers.

The Easter Cactus tends to be the smaller of the three. Mature plants aren’t as big as Christmas and Thanksgiving Cacti. It is also a bit of a drama queen and harder to care for.

Check out this short video all about identifying Holiday Cacti

All three plants and shown together. Sometimes it helps when you can see them moving.

Another handy tool is looking at the flowers and leaves side by side.


We are here to spread our love of houseplants! There are many different varieties of plants that we keep in our homes. All of them with different needs and preferences. This blog is to share our knowledge about all kinds of houseplants and help people care for their own plants.

You may also like...