How To Care For Easter Cactus

Bright light, but not direct sunshine, is excellent for these plants. They require colder temperatures than desert cactus do, even during the day, and can bloom for months in temps as low as 55 to 60 degrees F. (13-16 C.).

Maintain a little mist on the soil and let it dry completely before watering it again. Every two years in the spring, repotting is required for proper Easter cactus care. The plants appreciate being confined to their pots, but repot the plant with fresh soil.

After the blooming season, fertilize once a month with 10-10-10 or a fertilizer with a low nitrogen content.

If your house is dry, add some humidity. Put the plant on a saucer with some water and pebbles in it. The air around the plant will become more humid due to evaporation.

How should I look after my Easter cactus?

You might be startled to learn that there is an Easter cactus that blooms in the spring after spending years encouraging a Christmas cactus to do so on time. I know I was when I stumbled upon a tiny potted plant in a nearby nursery that had adorable, tiny flower buds.

The Easter cactus, also known as Rhipsalidopsis gaertneri by knowledgeable horticulturists, is distinct from its relatives the Christmas cactus and the Thanksgiving cactus mostly due to the season in which it blooms and the nature of its leaves. They can be picky, demanding, and resistant when it comes to flowering on command until their expectations are met, yet these various plants also share a lot in common.

Care and Feeding: To get the Easter cactus to bloom on schedule, place it in an area where daily and nighttime temperatures vary by as much as 20 degrees. It will grow in bright, indirect light (sun or shade). Give it a balanced fertilizer twice a month and water it when the soil seems dry to the touch.

Design Advice: Match a white Easter cactus with a creamy-colored planter that matches its flower buds in hue. My-shaped Ben Wolff White Clay Pot with Saucer costs $62.50.

Easter cactus won’t bloom again until the following spring when its current flowering period is over. If it’s root-bound, you can repot it in the interim, and you can prune it anyway you like.

Our curated list of Houseplants 101 has further suggestions for indoor gardening. Don’t miss:

Light

Without direct sunshine, strong natural light is ideal for them. The thick leaves of a spring cactus will burn in the hot sun. For reference, mine is growing on a buffet in my dining room, which has three sizable east-facing windows. It is positioned about 10 feet from the windows, where it receives lots of light (Tucson is famed for its abundant sunshine!).

They prefer bright shade while growing outside. As you can see from the video, my covered side patio’s northern exposure offers the best exposure.

Water

These are epiphytic cacti, which are different from the desert cacti that Tucson is covered in. They grow on other plants and rocks rather than soil in their native rainforest settings. The roots must be able to breathe.

Give yours a big swig of water and let the entire contents of the saucepan completely drain. Before you water the plant again, make sure it is completely dry. The roots should not be kept wet all the time because they will eventually rot.

In between waterings, let the soil to dry out. It depends on a variety of things how frequently you water it. You should find this guide to watering indoor plants helpful.

Water your Easter Cactus more frequently when it is blooming. At this point, you don’t want it to become fully dry.

Temperature

They can withstand a variety of temperatures. Your Easter Cactus will feel comfortable in your home if you do. Just be aware that the blooming season will occur more quickly the warmer your home is. Keep children away from heaters and, in the opposite direction, from drafty areas.

The evening temperature must be chilly for blooms to set. It is best between 45 and 55 degrees F.

Humidity

Although this epiphytic cactus favors humidity, it can survive in our homes despite their tendency to be dryer.

I’ll put mine on a saucer with stones and water if it starts to appear less “plump & a bit on the dry side.” To prevent any rotting, make sure to keep the pot’s bottom out of the liquid.

Soil

In their natural habitats, spring cacti grow on other plants, rocks, and bark. In soil, they do not grow. They eat leaves and other trash in the natural world. This indicates that they like a fairly porous mixture with considerable richness.

I usually mix in compost and coco coir with a fairly chunky local succulent and cactus mix. This peat moss substitute is better for the environment since it has a pH that is neutral, can hold more nutrients, and enhances aeration.

Fertilizing

None of my spring cactus have ever received fertilizer. Every spring, I always supplement with worm compost and organic compost. They’ve always had no trouble blooming. I’ll modify mine again in the summer here in the desert when it’s much hotter and dryer.

Every spring, I lightly apply worm compost to the majority of my indoor plants before covering it with a thin layer of compost. Easy, right? For a larger houseplant, use a 1/4 to 1/2 layer of each. Right here, you can read about how I feed my composting worms.

You can use a balanced liquid houseplant fertilizer (such 10-10-10) in the spring, early summer, and mid-summer even if yours might not require it.

My friend gave his Christmas and Easter cacti (20-10-20) all-around orchid fertilizer in the spring and again in the summer, and they both looked fantastic. It needs to be diluted to 1/4 strength. Water your plants with 1/4 of the fertilizer’s suggested dosage. If necessary, I might try using my collection of orchids, which I have quite a number of.

Wait to fertilize your Spring Cactus until it has completed blooming entirely, which should take 1-2 months. Before hitting it with the good stuff, you want it to relax!

Here, you can see the leaf from my Thanksgiving Cactus (which, by the way, is frequently advertised as a Christmas Cactus) on the left and the leaf from my Easter Cactus on the right. The Easter Cactus leaf is noticeably smoother, as can be seen.

Propagating

Speaking of propagation, leaf cuttings or division are both fairly simple methods.

By chopping the terminal leaf parts off, you can take individual leaf cuttings. It is simple for me to twist them off. I select a few pieces, which I consider to be a stem. After that, I let the leaves or complete stems recover for about a week. They are then planted in a straight succulent and cactus mix with about half of the leaf’s end sticking out, and after a couple of weeks, they begin to take root. I repotted them after one month has passed.

Pests / Problems

Mealybugs, spider mites, and possibly scale are common although mine have never experienced any of these.

Another issue is the fungal disease known as root rot. By not overwatering and/or utilizing a soil mixture that is properly aerated and free drainage, you can prevent this.

Flowering

Yes, this plant’s blossoms are quite attractive. Compared to the Christmas and Thanksgiving Cacti, whose flowers I think somewhat resemble Shrimp Plant flowers, these are more star-shaped. They come in vivacious violet, peach, red, orange, and that calmer Easter color, white.

These plants are timed by the farmers to bloom around Easter. Although they can bloom long into or throughout May, they are primarily sold in March and April. The flowers will open more quickly and their overall blooming period will be shorter the warmer your home is.

Similar to what you do to get the Thanksgiving and Christmas cacti to bloom once again, you may get them to flower once more. Make sure your spring cactus receives an equal amount of sunshine and absolute darkness each day six to eight weeks before you want it to bloom.

At this time, keep them dry to force them into dormancy. Depending on the temperature, the mix they are in, and the size and type of pot they are planted in, they may need watering every three to six weeks.

Keep the temperature between 50 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit. At night, 50 to 55 degrees is ideal. Your need for more darkness will increase if your temperatures are warmer.

The Easter Cactus blooms may be seen in the two lower pictures. The Thanksgiving Cactus flower in the top photo is much different from these flowers.

Good To Know

When Easter Cactus is minimally pot-bound, it thrives. Every two to five years, I repot my.

Yippee! These plants are said to be safe for both cats and dogs. If your pet consumes the leaves or stems, they may irritate their stomach.

I urge you to use an Easter Cactus to commemorate Spring, the season of fresh beginnings and vivid hues. Those lovely flowers will certainly make your house cheerier!

Does the Easter cactus need to be in the sun?

Easter cacti, like other holiday cacti, like strong light but not direct sunlight because it will burn their leaves. Since they aren’t finicky, your Easter cactus should be OK for the most of the year if the climate in your home seems comfortable (more on temps later!).

Easter cactus grows outdoors or indoors.

Easter cactus (Rhipsalidopsis gaertneri), a bushy plant with lavender-pink or red blooms at the end of each flat, segmented leaf, produces a profusion of flowers every spring. Even though Easter cactus is a real cactus, it grows in the forest and needs more attention than its desert-dwelling relatives. According to Clemson University, this, along with the other holiday cacti known as Christmas cactus and Thanksgiving cactus, prefers humid circumstances and is called “rain forest cacti” for this reason.

Easter cacti often thrive for many years and mature at a height of around 24 inches. They require little maintenance. Although Easter cacti are often planted indoors, they may survive outside in USDA plant hardiness zones 10b through 11.

Unless they are overwatered, Easter cactus infections are uncommon, according to Iowa State University. If a plant starts to turn reddish, it may be an indication that it has received too much light, not enough water, or lacks phosphorus.

What can I do to maintain my Easter cactus in bloom?

Prior to their spring flowering season, your Easter cactus needs eight weeks of equal quantities of darkness and light. Aim for colder, drier weather at night, ideally about 50 degrees. Despite the fact that these plants enjoy warmth, keep your potted cactus away from any sources of direct heat. However, the flowering time starts earlier the warmer your home is. It’s possible to even get flowers twice a year, just like other seasonal cactus!

Additionally, the Easter cactus is thought to be safe to curious dogs, which makes it the perfect indoor plant for the entire year.

My Easter cactus is withering; why?

Too much or too little water, insufficient sunlight, low humidity levels in your home, or too low temperatures are the major causes of your Easter cactus’s demise. Your cactus can be restored to health if you can make accommodations for all of these factors.

Provide strong indirect sunshine, maintain constant soil moisture while the plant is actively growing (decrease watering in winter), and maintain high relative humidity around the plant for the best possible care of Easter cactus. After the petals fade, give your plant a month of dry rest, and in January–November, provide cool nighttime temperatures to encourage blooming.

How come my Easter cactus is drooping?

The main factor contributing to the Easter cactus’ shriveling and wrinkleing is a lack of water. For most of the year, this plant requires only moderate watering. Follow these watering recommendations for the best outcomes:

  • In the spring, when the blossoms have faded, let the soil dry out for a month.
  • Keep the soil continuously moist during the summer and early fall (but not wet or soggy).
  • Allow the soil to almost entirely dry out between waterings in the winter.

When the top of the potting soil on your Easter cactus becomes dry to a depth of one inch after the drying phase in spring (and all the way through winter), water it (2.5 cm). Every day, stick your finger into the ground to check the moisture level.

If the Easter cactus starts to lose leaves, that is another clue that it is submerged. This is almost certainly your issue if you also have wrinkly leaves that are shedding. However, you can also be dealing with a couple of problems at once, like not enough water AND not enough humidity.

A NOTE: “Easter cactus leaves are really just flattened stem segments. I’m referring to “Since many starting houseplant growers refer to the stems as leaves, we will use that term throughout this essay. The leaves, however, are actually dangling stem segments that resemble leaves.

What causes the wrinkles on my Easter cactus?

The true Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera x buckleyi) and its close sibling, the Thanksgiving cactus (S. truncata), which I’ll refer to as holiday cacti in this piece, generally grow well in home gardens. (To learn how to tell them apart, read When your Christmas Cactus Blooms Too Early.) They arrive to bloom twice a year, first in November/December and once in February/March, in many homes. And they can survive for decades with little care. But occasionally you become aware that something is off. The “leaves” (stem segments) change from being bright, lush, and green to being drab, scraggly, withered, soft, and occasionally even crimson. What is happening?

When considering holiday cactus, eliminate the word “leaf” from your lexicon. They no longer have any leaves, or rather, none at all. They did bear precisely two cotyledons (seed leaves) when they first emerged as seedlings, which may have been 40 years ago or more, but ever since, they have survived only on their stems. The green stem segments that have been flattened connect in a chain-like fashion to form an arching, hanging plant that later becomes brown and woody (at least the very oldest stems do). Because they are green, stem segments produce energy for the plant by performing photosynthesis much like a leaf would. Still, stem segments aren’t exactly leaves.

Because not enough moisture is getting to them, thirsty stems eventually become limp and shriveled. It would seem logical to conclude that they merely require more watering, but this isn’t always the best course of action.

Moisture cannot penetrate the stems, particularly the last segments, for two main reasons. Either the roots are harmed, which can be brought on by too much water, or the soil is too dry.

It’s simple to see or, at the very least, feel if the soil is excessively dry. Squeeze it. You can quickly feel the dryness in your fingers. Watering is the apparent cure, then, if the shriveled stems are due to dry soil. Water deeply and completely, not just lightly, to thoroughly hydrate the entire root ball.

When potting soil is extremely dry, it can sometimes repel water. As a result, when you water the plant, it no longer seeps into the soil but instead instantly flows off into the saucer below. This is particularly prevalent with hanging baskets, which we often water less frequently than necessary out of concern that any extra water may spill out of the saucer and onto the ground. The poor plant suffers as a result from persistent drought stress and never receives adequate moisture.

Don’t merely water the plant if that is your diagnosis; soak the root ball instead. Put the pot in a sink or a pail of warm water and soak it for ten to fifteen minutes. After that, let it completely drain. If you don’t let the soil allow itself to become dry again, it will become water-receptive once more and you can water routinely going forward.

Holiday cacti do not require dry maintenance as desert cacti do because they are not desert plants. Even though they are tolerant of inconsistent care, they do prefer “even wetness all year.” Just remember to water according to the golden rule: deeply enough to cover the entire root ball, then wait until the soil has dried before watering again. It consistently works!

It is clear that the issue is unrelated to underwatering if your plant has shrunken stems but the soil feels damp to the touch. In actuality, the situation is considerably worse. When the roots are withering or dead, this happens!

The roots may be in such poor condition for a variety of causes. These are the top two.

  • Keeps the soil overly wet. The roots can’t breathe if the potting soil is always damp; as a result, they start to die. Root rot then develops. The pathogens Pythium, Phytophthora, Rhizoctonia, Fusarium, etc. that cause this disease lay latent in most soils, waiting to pounce once the health of the root cells begins to deteriorate. The sick roots then transfer the disease to the healthy ones, killing them as well. Even though the soil is drenched with moisture, it is obvious that a plant with fewer or no roots cannot properly hydrate itself, and as a result, its stems start to wilt. The line “Water, water everywhere, nor a drop to drink!” makes me think of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.
  • mineral salt accumulation. Salts build up in the potting soil of any indoor plant over time, typically over several to many years. They are barely noticeable in the water you apply, but they are far more prevalent in fertilizer. When they grow too much, the earth eventually becomes saltier than the roots themselves. Then, rather of water flowing from the soil into the plant, water will flow from the plant into the surrounding soil to dilute the concentration (this process is known as osmosis). Because of this, the roots begin to dry out and die. A whitish or yellowish crust on the pot’s rim or even on the plant stem is frequently present in conjunction with the buildup of salts in the soil. Mineral salt damage can be especially harmful to epiphytic plants like Christmas cactus.

Repotting is the simplest fix if you think mineral salt buildup is to blame for the issue.

As much of the old dirt as you can get out as you unpot the plant. Pruning off the decaying roots is a good idea if they smell like rotten potatoes. Remove any stems that are decaying as well. Repot now into a fresh pot (with drainage holes, of course). Notably, a bigger pot is not required. In fact, it’s frequently advisable to repot the plant into a somewhat smaller one if it has lost roots. Any potting soil (houseplant dirt, cactus soil, orchid mix, etc.) that drains well will work.

Water deeply at first to thoroughly hydrate the soil, then sparingly over the following months, only when the soil feels dry to the touch. Usually, when given fresh potting soil, the plant will rapidly generate new roots and its health will start to improve. However, you must have patience because it can take several months before you notice a noticeable difference.

It’s also a good idea to take cuttings anytime a holiday cactus starts to look a little unwell in case you are unable to save the original plant.

Pick stems with at least three segments for the best outcomes (four or five would be even better). To get rid of them, twist the stems rather than cutting them; at the base of a section, they will naturally split.

Place the cuttings in a little pot filled with moist potting soil, making sure to completely cover the lower segment. Maintain a tiny moisture in the mixture until new growth occurs, which could take several months.

The fact that really old specimens occasionally don’t respond well to repotting, even when you’re attempting it to save their lives, is one of the reasons I advise combining taking cuttings with any other rescue approach for a deteriorating Christmas cactus. They appear to be entrenched in their ways and would rather slowly expire than accept a better adjustment, much like certain elderly humans. Thus, the cuts serve as your “backups.”