Karyn Almendarez

Karyn is a retired elementary teacher and lives in Colorado. She loves Wordpress, blogging, writing, and cats. She is the author of Tragedy's Treasures, A Mom's Journey Through Grief, her raw and personal account of how she survived her sixteen-year-old son's death in an early morning car accident. Click here to learn more about her.

Christmas or Thanksgiving Cactus???

Why do I love Christmas Cactus?


Christmas Cacti and hummingbirds were two of nature’s blessings that excited my mother. After my father died she moved to the second floor of an assisted living. It was an adjustment for her. With no trees, she missed her yard with places for hanging hummingbird feeders and their spring and summer”fly-bys”.

Her Christmas cacti did find a loving home, and she moved them around in her apartment until she found just the right amount of sun and shade. Every year, around this time, she would proudly show me their bright-colored blooms.

Albert and I are blessed to live in Colorado where the hummingbirds show up every Mother’s Day and swarm the feeders until October. I love to see the first ones because their arrival is like a message from my Mom! This year, we had one straggler that did not want to fly to warmer ground. We had to force him/her to leave by taking down the feeder. The birds fly south and many follow the Texas coast into Mexico.


Reading our newspaper last week, I read an article titled, “Thanksgiving Cacti Are Wonderful Holiday Plants”, written by Linda Corwine McIntosh. It caught my eye because I had never heard of Thanksgiving cacti!

Christmas and Thanksgiving cacti are different species (Christmas cactus is Schlumbergera Buckleyi and Thanksgiving cactus is Schlumbergera Buckleyi). There is even an Easter cactus — Rhipsalidopsis gaertneri.

So, which do I have? You can tell by looking at the shape of the leaf segments. On a Thanksgiving cactus, the segments have 2-4 saw-toothed or pointy projections. The Christmas species has rounder, smoother leaves.

Notice the pointy projections on the leaves of my cactus…

Pointy Leafed Thanksgiving Cactus

Now I know why my cactus blooms earlier than Christmas! Thanksgiving cacti bloom from September to January and have yellowish, salmon, fuchsia, and white flowers (or a combination).

Besides learning how to identify the different species, I learned:

  • how to care for them
  • “trim” them
  • propagate them to give for Christmas gifts.


Disclaimer: I am not a great caretaker…I barely remember to give mine water…never move them…don’t fertilize them…and they bloom anyway!

They prefer:

  • direct interior sunlight
  • temperatures between 70 and 80 degrees during the growing season (April to September)
  • water when dry to the touch in Spring and Summer, a little more during flowering
  • NO standing water
  • Fertilizer once a month in the Spring and early Summer (1/2 strength water soluble of 20-10-20 or 20-20-20)
  • No fertilizer from late summer until Spring
  • repotting every three years (do this in the Spring with a potting soil containing 20-40 percent perlite. Linda recommends using Fox Farm Ocean Forest Potting Soil)

I have never tried putting my cacti outdoors (especially with the cool nights here), but Linda says she puts her plants outdoors in a protected shady place during the summer.


In May or June, you can pinch off the leaves all the way back to the place where they form a “Y” (this makes the plant bushier, more compact, and makes it easier for the plant to produce more flowers!

Turn the plant as you pinch to give it a balanced shape.


Both of my holiday cacti plants were Christmas gifts, so why not use the “trimmings” to create new plants to give as gifts?

In May or June:

  • Pinch or cut off a section of stem with 3 to 5 stem segments.
  • Dip the cut end in a rooting compound
  • Water the potting soil, poke a small hole in it, place the stem in the hole and firm up the soil around it.
  • Use 2 cutting per 6-inch container for a fuller plant
  • Place in a shady place, water well, and continue to water when the soil dries out

You can also try rooting the cuttings in water. Since I am new to both methods, I plan on attempting both!

WOW! I feel like I just gave my Mom a Christmas present by sharing this blog with you. Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas, Mom!


Please comment below if you love these plants as much as I do!

5 Prayers For Our Children

There are more than 5 ways to pray for our children and grandchildren!

How can we pray for them as they go back to school?

Teachers are stressed…I know because I was one!

Parents are thrilled…I know because I am one!

Do we forget how stressful school can be for our loved ones?

This is the third blog post dedicated to all children and teachers who are


I cannot take credit for creating the 5 P’s, as you can tell if you clicked on the above link. Prayers for PEACE, PROTECTION, PURITY, PASSION, AND PERSPECTIVE are so applicable to children and adults.

That is why I researched scripture to find Bible verses that align with these five prayer requests.


“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27 NIV


“But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one.” Thessalonians 3:3 NIV


“Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10 NIV


“But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded.” 2 Chronicles 15;7 NIV


“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthinians 4:18 NIV

How can we apply these verses?

  • We can pray these very words for the children we love.
  • We can read these scriptures to them and let them know specifically why we are praying for them.
  • We can ask them what the words peace, protection, purity, passion, and perspective mean to them.

I hope these scriptures and prayers comfort and bless you!

If so, please share this post with your loved ones and friends and encourage them to sign up to receive newsletters and updates!


Please feel free to leave any special prayer requests you might have in the Comments section below. Or, if you prefer, you can email me at karyn@openyourtreasures.com.

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