Poinsettias and Christmas Cactus – Happy Holiday Houseplants

Two of the favorite plants for the winter holiday season are Poinsettias & the Christmas Cactus. With a bit of knowledge, you can choose and care for either of these rather easy.
pointsettaChoosing Your Poinsettia:

      • Choose a plant with dark green foliage. Avoid fallen or damaged leaves as this indicates poor handling, fertilization, lack of water or a root disease problem.
      • Avoid plants with too much green around the bract edges, as this is a sign of insufficient maturity.
      • Be sure to check the underside of the leaves for insects.
      • The colorful flower bracts should be in proportion to the plant and pot size.
      • Little or no pollen should be showing on the actual flowers, the red or green button-like parts in the center of the colorful bracts. This indicates a younger plant.


      • If you are planning on reblooming your plant for next year, examine the branching structure. If the plants are grown single stem (non-branched with several plants per pot), these cultivars do not branch well and will not form attractive plants for a second year.

Read the FULL post: How to Choose, Care For, and Rebloom Your Poinsettia

imageTo distinguish the difference between a Thanksgiving and a Christmas cacti, look at the shape of the flattened stem segments called phylloclades. On the Thanksgiving cactus, these segments each have saw-toothed serrations or projections along the margins. The stem margins on the Christmas cactus are more rounded and less pronounced.

Since flowering plants sell better than nonflowering, merchants tend to fill their shelves with Thanksgiving cacti.

To initiate flower buds on your holiday cactus, the plants need:

  • A bright location.
  • Fourteen hours or more of continuous darkness each 24 hour period is required
    before flower buds will occur. Long nights should be started about the middle of September and continued for at least 6 continuous weeks for complete bud set. Just like the poinsettia.
  • Fall growing temperatures should be between 60F and 68F, but as close to 68F as possible for maximum flower production. Plants grown with night temperatures between 50F and 59F will set flower buds regardless of day length, but growth will be slower.
  • Pinching at the end of September to remove any terminal phylloclades that are less than a half inch long, to make all stems approximately the same length. These short, immature stem segments will not make flower buds.

Read the FULL post: How to Care for Your Thanksgiving / Christmas Cactus

Copyright Ilex Farrell

13 thoughts on “Poinsettias and Christmas Cactus – Happy Holiday Houseplants

    • WOW! I sure hope you share this visit with your loyal followers! I’m sure there are many varieties that us North Americans haven’t seen. I follow a South African blog that had a shot of a large TREE Poinsettia! Wow, they are not just for Christmas =-)

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I’ve relied on a poinsettia to serve as my holiday decoration for years. Even when we had a house, we always traveled for Christmas and thus a poinsettia traveled with us for a little holiday cheer 🙂


  2. My mom always got at least one Poinsettia when I was a kid but I don’t keep any myself especially considering they’re poisonous to dogs. I really don’t believe my current dog would ever eat a plant (she’s not messed with any plants I have indoors or out, just grass). Even my mom has a dog and we always did but no one chewed on the plant. Nonetheless I still don’t keep them. It’s really more so my birds I’d worry about (I think they’re poisonous to them too) because if given the chance they will most certainly take a bite out of them.

    I’ve heard raves about Christmas cacti that’s for sure though I myself also don’t have any. Either way this is an informative post and given my new addiction to Orchids this year I’ve gained a new appreciation for growing and maintaining indoor plants. When you don’t care too much you think eh, water it, give it some light and feed it. But there’s so much more to getting them to look nice, flower, and flower to its greatest potential as you’ve illustrated here.

    Oh and Poinsettia tree????!!!!! Good lord I’d like to see that. 😀

    Thanks for sharing.


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