Reblooming Thanksgiving cactus is easier than you may think and it is possible to encourage them to flower every year.
In this post, I’m going to explain just how to do it, with detailed step-by-step instructions.
Getting your Schlumbergera truncata to produce its beautiful blooms in time for the Thanksgiving holiday depends on three main factors: darkness, low temperature, and timing.
Read on to discover how to trigger your Thanksgiving cactus to rebloom and bring a glorious splash of color into your home for the season.
Does Thanksgiving Cactus Rebloom?
Yes, you can stimulate your Thanksgiving (aka November) cactus to rebloom year after year, but it’s important to follow the simple steps I describe below.
They can naturally bloom again in the fall on their own every year, usually sometime in November.
But they’ll often need a little help, especially indoors, and the timing, temperature, and amount of light they receive must be just right.
What Triggers A Thanksgiving Cactus To Bloom?
Schlumbergera truncata needs a brief rest period, or partial dormancy, to produce flower buds. In its natural habitat in southeast Brazil, the cooler nights and shorter days of fall trigger dormancy.
To replicate this environment at home, you must control the temperature and amount of light your plant receives.
I also recommend keeping your Thanksgiving cactus slightly pot-bound, as this will help it bloom more readily.
When Will My Thanksgiving Cactus Bloom Again?
In the ideal environment, your Thanksgiving cactus will bloom again every year, sometime in mid to late November, or around the time of the US holiday.
It’s not uncommon for them to flower a second time in the spring, but it’s usually a much smaller display.
Using my instructions below, you can force your Schlumbergera truncata to rebloom at the perfect time each year, providing a beautiful centerpiece for your Thanksgiving table.
How Do I Get My Thanksgiving Cactus To Bloom Again?
To trigger your November cactus to bloom again, you need to replicate the conditions it would encounter in its natural habitat in the fall.
This means you must control the amount of water and light it receives, and make sure the temperature is low enough.
1. Reduce Watering
To show your Thanksgiving cactus that it’s almost time to rest, the first thing to do is reduce the amount of moisture. So starting in late summer or early fall, cut down on the amount of water you give it.
Allow the soil to dry slightly before watering it again, but don’t let it dry out completely.
2. Put It In The Dark
Another trigger for reblooming a Thanksgiving cactus is less sunlight, which is normal in the fall. But they will need complete darkness for 12-16 hours each night for 6-8 weeks.
Starting in late September or early October, place your November cactus in a dark room, closet, or bathroom overnight.
Alternatively, you could cover it with a blackout cloth or blanket to completely block out the light. If this darkness is interrupted – even by artificial light – it may prevent buds from forming.
Bring it back out into bright light during the day or uncover it, but avoid exposing it to direct sunlight.
3. Keep It Cool
Cooler temperatures are another important key to getting your Thanksgiving cactus to bloom again.
It should be at least 10°F (-12.2°C) lower at night than during the day. A range of 50-55°F (10-12.8°C) overnight is ideal, although as warm as 60°F (15.6°C) would be fine.
Just be sure that the temperature never drops below 40°F (4.4°C), or this could damage your plant.
The easiest way to do this is to move it outside at night or place it in a cool room, such as an unfinished basement. Use a thermometer to monitor the temperature.
How Long Does It Take Thanksgiving Cactus To Bloom Again?
On average, it takes Schlumbergera truncata anywhere from 6 to 8 weeks to bloom again.
Buds may start to form in as few as 3 weeks, but it can take as long as 8 weeks if the environmental conditions are not quite right.
When To Put Thanksgiving Cactus In The Dark
Put your Thanksgiving cactus in the dark for around 6 to 8 weeks before you want it to rebloom.
So, to have flowers in time for the holiday, this means you need to start anytime from late September or early October.
An easy way to figure this out is to count backward 6 to 8 weeks before the fourth Thursday of November.
Why Won’t My Thanksgiving Cactus Flower Again?
There are several things that could stop your November cactus reblooming. Here are the most common causes.
- Too much water – It’s important to reduce the amount of water you give your plant in the fall, and allow it to dry out more between drinks.
- It’s too warm or cold – Your Thanksgiving cactus ideally needs temperatures between 50-55° (10-12.8°C) overnight to make it flower again.
- Not enough darkness – Giving them 12 to 16 hours of darkness each night is essential, and any interruption, even from artificial light sources, can suppress flowering.
- Recently repotted – Schlumbergera truncata will bloom best when slightly pot-bound, so yours may need a year or two to flower again if you repotted it recently.
What To Do Once Your Thanksgiving Cactus Sets Buds
One of the biggest frustrations with reblooming Thanksgiving cactus is when it finally sets buds… and then they quickly start dropping off before they open.
To prevent that from happening, it’s crucial to give it the proper care during flowering. Here are my tips to make the blooms last as long as possible.
- Increase watering – Once it sets buds, start watering more often so that the soil remains consistently moist, but be careful not to overwater.
- Give it a bright light – As soon as buds appear, move your Thanksgiving cactus to a bright spot in your home where it can receive plenty of indirect light, and leave it there.
- Protect from extreme temps – Monitor the temperature to ensure that it’s neither too hot nor too cold. A range of 60-70°F (15.6-21.1°C) is ideal to promote better, longer-lasting blooms.
- Do not repot it – They flower best when slightly pot-bound. But if you feel yours needs repotting, wait until the spring after it’s done blooming.
- Protect from drafts – Place your plant in a spot away from heat vents, windows, or other drafts, otherwise, it may begin to drop buds or flowers.
Below you’ll find my answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about reblooming Thanksgiving cactus. If you don’t see yours listed, please ask in the comments.
Does Thanksgiving cactus need darkness to bloom?
Yes, a Thanksgiving cactus needs uninterrupted darkness for 12-16 hours each night for 6-8 weeks to bloom again. Starting in late September or early October, put it in a dark place like a bathroom or closet, or use a blanket or black out cloth to totally block out all light sources.
How many years will a Thanksgiving cactus rebloom?
Under the right conditions, a Thanksgiving cactus will rebloom every year for as long as it lives. And the good news is that the Schlumbergera truncata has an incredibly long life span, lasting anywhere from 40 to 100 years.
How many times can a Thanksgiving cactus rebloom?
A Thanksgiving cactus typically blooms again every year in November (hence its holiday-related name). It is possible for it to rebloom in spring, but it’s usually a much smaller display, and this can be a sign that the timing of its cool, dark period was wrong.
When do I force my cactus for Thanksgiving flowers?
You should force your cactus for Thanksgiving flowers starting in late summer or early fall by reducing watering. Then give it complete darkness overnight for about 6-8 weeks before the holiday.
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