Holiday cactus often lose flower buds when you move them. Photo: @dkerr96
Question: My Thanksgiving cactus is blooming, but several buds have fallen off without opening. Is it because I moved it? I usually grow it in the basement, but take it upstairs when it starts to bloom so the whole family can enjoy it.
Answer: This is a common problem with holiday cacti, which can be either the true Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera x buckleyi) or its close relative, the Thanksgiving cactus (S. truncata). (Read When your Christmas Cactus Blooms Too Early to learn how to distinguish between the two.)
When the growing conditions change dramatically, the flower buds tend to drop off. This happens when you move it from one part of the house to another, but even more drastically when you bring one back from the garden center and the plant has to make the transition from a brightly lit and very humid greenhouse to a darker living room where the air is very dry.
To prevent or reduce bud drop, try moving the plant when the flower buds are still very small. That will give the plant more time to adapt before its buds start to swell.
If flowering is more advanced, try at least to maintain the same orientation as the original spot. In other words, place the side of the plant that faced the window in your basement so that it is also facing the window in its new location. So, no spins or quarter turns. Theoretically at least, the buds are more likely drop off when this orientation is perturbed.
Also, although a holiday cactus is a true cactus, it’s not a desert plant and it appreciates good atmospheric humidity. Since the air in a basement is usually more humid than the air on the ground floor, you could try placing the plant on a humidity tray in its new location to help lessen the shock of the move.
With these methods in mind, you ought to be able to move your holiday cactus without losing a bud.