The Battle Of The Holiday Plants: Poinsettia Vs. Christmas Cactus

Ladies and gentlemen. Boys and girls. Welcome to the Battle of the Holiday Plants! This fight is scheduled for four rounds.

holiday houseplants

In the red corner, standing between 2-13 feet tall with leaves reaching between 2.8-6.3 inches, it’s Euphorbia pulcherrima… Poinsettia! And in the green corner, standing up to 4 feet tall, with no leaves and green stems that act as photosynthetic organs, it’s the Christmas “Schlumbergera” Cactus. Now, let’s get ready to rummmbllllllleeeee!

Round 1: Varieties

They say that variety is the spice of life. And the poinsettia will provide you with more zest than almost any other houseplant out there. While classic red is still the most popular, there are over 100 varieties of poinsettias to choose from, including pink, burgundy, white, speckled, marbled, and more. The Christmas cactus and it’s 6 to 9 variations can’t defend against such an overwhelming attack. 

Round 2: Care and Lifespan 

The Christmas cactus comes out strong in round two with a couple of “easier to care for” body blows to the poinsettia. Both plants require moist, well-drained soil and bright, indirect light when blooming; temperatures should range between 60-70°F during the days. 

However, being succulents, Christmas cacti are a little less fussy. Also, with some simple care, they can live up to 30+ years! It takes more work to get even a few holiday seasons out of your poinsettia.

Round 3: Popularity

This battle may not be a popularity contest. But if it were, the Christmas cactus wouldn’t stand a chance. While the Cactus’ popularity has been growing, poinsettias are not only the most popular holiday plant; they are the best-selling potted plant in North America. On the retail level, they bring in over $250 million to the US economy.

Round 4: Toxicity

Poinsettia comes out strong in round four, ready to dispel the myth of their poisonous leaves. The truth is the plant isn’t poisonous. But they are toxic – especially to house pets – and could cause vomiting and diarrhea. Also, some of the plants can ooze sap that can irritate people with latex allergies. The Christmas cactus is entirely non-toxic and will have no ill-effect on your pets should they decide to take a bite. 

And The Winner Is…

The battle ends with both plants still standing. So, the decision goes to the judge’s table. Poinsettia or Christmas Cactus: who do you award victory?

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Jesse grew up obsessed with movies and so it only makes sense that he graduated from McGill University with a degree in Political Science. He then put that degree to good use with a job at a video store. After that he spent months backpacking around Europe - a continent that he has been back to visit many times since. Jesse is super curious and loves to learn and explore new subjects. For the last 15+ years he has been writing online for a number of different sites and publications covering everything from film and television to website reviews, dating and culture, history, news and sports. He’s worn many hats - which is ironic because he actually loves wearing hats and he has many different ones.