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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Are Easter cacti simple to maintain?
If you want to add a little color to your house or garden, the Easter cactus is a great option, especially around the Easter holiday when this tropical cactus is noted for its stunning and profusion of star-shaped blooms. Flowers of this native to the Brazilian jungles range from white to scarlet to purple. The Easter cactus is well known for having a long lifespan and being simple to grow, making it a popular choice for both novice and seasoned houseplant enthusiasts.
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.
When should I illuminate my Easter cactus?
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.
What can I do to make my Easter lily cactus bloom?
If grown from seed, the Easter lily cactus can take up to four years to bloom. Sometimes the plant is dwarfed by the size of the blossoms. These cacti often grow well and can withstand temperatures of 15 to 20 degrees Fahrenheit. Put this cactus in full sun or light shade, with well-draining soil. The species can withstand droughts and just needs a little irrigation in the sweltering summer months.
Are Easter cacti toxic?
The new growth needs to be hardened up before it can flower, which is accomplished by being exposed to the weather outside.
While the Easter Cactus’ buds won’t form until early the next year, the Christmas Cactus makes it easy to tell when it’s had enough by displaying you its buds. Instead than relying on the plant to provide you with visual cues, you’ll just have to remember to bring it inside as Autumn/Fall approaches.
After bringing it inside, place it in a cool (7 C to 15 C / 45 F to 59 F) well-lit area of your house to rest. In such a location, it won’t require as much water, but watch out that the soil doesn’t entirely dry out.
the days start getting a little bit longer and warmer (February – March). Typically, flowering takes place from late March until late May.
This is what you should ideally see a few weeks before Easter if you followed our guidelines above.
Why is the Easter cactus in my yard wrinkly?
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.