The holiday season has here, which not only calls for decorations but also festive plants! At this time of year, there are many lovely holiday plants to pick from, whether they are bought from a florist, nursery, or are grown at home. The Christmas cactus is one of the most popular plants to give or receive at this time of year. Or is it a Thanksgiving or Easter cactus?
The three cacti differ from one another in terms of how their leaves are shaped. The edges of the leaves of the Thanksgiving cactus (Schlumgera truncata) are very sharply pointed and shaped like claws. The leaf projections of the Christmas cactus (Schlumgera bridgesti) are more scalloped or teardrop shaped. The edges of the leaves of the Easter cactus (Rhipsalidopsis gaertnerrii) are extremely rounded and centered.
These three cacti are all classified as short-day plants. Therefore, the plant needs low temperatures and 12–24 hours of darkness in order to bloom. If you overwintered your plant outside or bought it from a florist or nursery, you should keep it in a cold, dark place until the buds appear. The optimum location is an infrequently used bedroom or lower level. The Easter cactus gets its name from the fact that it takes 8–12 weeks of short days to bloom as opposed to the Christmas and Thanksgiving cacti’s roughly six weeks. It can be brought into a warmer environment once the buds start to form for your enjoyment. At this stage, a plant may occasionally start to lose its buds. That might be caused by air currents, warm temperatures, an abundance of water, or direct sunlight. Bright light is good for the plants, but not direct sunlight. Before watering, the soil should be completely dry to one inch below the surface. Fertilizing or repotting shouldn’t be done when the plant is in bloom. The plants appear to thrive when they are root-bound.
You might see the Christmas and Thanksgiving cactus bloom once more in the spring, though perhaps not as lavishly as over the holiday season. Simply restore the plant to its short day settings to promote springtime blooming.
Unless they are overwatered, these plants are generally disease-free. If the plant turns crimson, there is either too much sun, not enough phosphorus, or not enough water. There are rumors of plants that have been passed down from generation to generation for more than a century. Take advantage of these easygoing holiday plants and establish a new gardening custom. Call the Linn County Master Gardener Hortline at 319-447-0647 with any and all of your gardening inquiries.
How should an Easter cactus be cared for?
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:
What color are the Easter cactus leaves?
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The Easter cactus (Hatiora gaertneri) resembles the more well-known Christmas cactus extremely closely, however it blooms in the spring rather than the winter. At the tips of flat, green branches that resemble leaves, pink to vivid crimson flowers bloom. If the plant isn’t given the right care, these “leaves may wrinkle.
So why do you look like Easter cactus leaves? The most frequent reason for this is underwatering, which makes the plant appear wrinkled and withered. However, excessive sunburn and insufficient humidity can also result in wrinkled leaves.
Are Easter cactus and Spring cactus the same thing?
Would you like to grow an Easter (Spring) cactus? Here is a growing guide for an Easter cactus that any gardener, regardless of experience level, may utilize.
The bright Easter Cactus, or Spring Cactus as it is now more widely known, is marketed while it is in bloom in March and April. Depending on the environment your plant is growing in, that bloom may last until well into May. However, once your cactus has finished blooming, don’t give it the old heave-ho. This stunning succulent is a wonderful indoor plant. You can maintain your Easter Cactus (Spring Cactus) healthy and attractive by following these growth instructions.
Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Easter Cactus are all related. The Easter Cactus is cared for in a same manner. Easter Cactus is also known as Hatiora gaertneri, but its fancy botanical name is Rhipsalidopsis gaertneri. From this post and video, you could recognize another Hatiora, Dancing Bones, or Drunkard’s Dream. Now for the important part!
How can you distinguish between an Easter cactus, a Christmas cactus, and a Thanksgiving cactus?
The leaves of the Thanksgiving cactus (Schlumbergera truncata) have sharp protrusions that resemble crab claws. The leaves of the Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera bridgesti) have rounded or teardrop-shaped projections. The leaves of the Easter cactus (Schlumbergera gaertnerrii) have rounded edges.
Easter cactus is allowed outside.
The most popular pot sizes for Easter Cacti are 4, 6, and 8 pots. They expand to become 1 x 1. Because it lives for a long time inside, older plants (10+ years) can grow to be 2 x 2.
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. They can be grown outside all year long in temperate areas.
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.
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. 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. Add the fertilizer to the water at a quarter of the recommended rate. 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!
I’ve only ever pruned mine to shape it or to make more plants. 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. I then let the leaves or stems grow without them for about a week. They take a few weeks to root when I plant them in a plain succulent and cactus mix with about half of the leaf hanging out. I repotted them after one month has passed.
Take the entire leaf—don’t split it in half—and propagate it. Propagation works best, in my opinion, two to three months after flowering is over. Pests / Issues 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.
How often does the Easter cactus 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.
Why are my Easter cactus’ leaves going off?
The majority of vacation cactus do not often have problems, but they can appear on occasion. Easter cactus buds and leaves occasionally wilt or fall off. It is hardly surprising that this occasionally occurs after several weeks of 14-hour darkness each day.
The likelihood of dropping buds increases when the plant is moved. The Easter cactus’s leaves may fall off because to very warm temperatures, exposure to drafts, and a lack of light. Bud or leaf drop can also be caused by inadequate or excessive watering, by low humidity levels, or even by placing the plant in the line of gas stove emissions.
Even though you have just given your plant a little, limited amount of water, it may nonetheless be exhibiting overwatering symptoms. The Easter cactus might have been planted in the wrong soil. Use a cactus potting mix that has been modified with coarse sand and pumice when putting the newly purchased plant into a permanent pot. You won’t have to be concerned about root rot because this improves drainage even more quickly.
Do the blooms on Easter cacti close at night?
The Easter Cactus, also known as the Spring Cactus, blooms in a variety of bright colors from March till May. Their several-week-long, star-shaped flowers open at dawn and close at dusk. In the forests of eastern Brazil, Easter Cacti are native epiphytes that grow in the branches of the trees. Knowing a plant’s natural environment is beneficial since it gives the gardener advice on how to grow the plant successfully.
Natural Adjustment Due to their propensity to epiphytic life, Easter Cacti make wonderful indoor plants. Their capacity to develop in trees in their natural habitat is strongly tied to their capacity to thrive in partial sunlight and dry conditions. Sometimes it’s even a good thing to ignore your Easter cactus.
Particular Qualities Easter Cactus has segments of flat, succulent leaves. They freely branch, becoming a full specimen of a plant with glossy, leathery leaves.
Methods for Blooming Dry soil and chilly temperatures in the early winter trigger floral bud set, which occurs in the spring (around Easter). To prevent the plant from shriveling up as fall approaches, often in October, soil moisture should be decreased with only infrequent watering.
Additionally, a chilly phase is required, with nighttime lows in the high 50s to just above freezing for a few months. Later in the fall, you may either keep the plants indoors next to your coolest window or leave them outside (just make sure it’s still above freezing). To encourage floral bud set, it is necessary to drop nighttime temperatures below 60F for a few months.
Watering The dry season must last until the buds are evident because bud production often begins after the first of the year. The plants switch into their growth cycle once flowering is over and the days start to become longer and warmer. At this point, fertilizer can be added and watering is increased. Bring the soil to almost complete dryness between waterings, as you would with most succulents, and then thoroughly moisten the potting soil.
Fertilizer When you water, you can apply fertilizer in a soluble form using a balanced composition, such as 5-7-3 or 10-10-10. Or, you might use an organic granular fertilizer as a topdressing to plants. They are moderate feeders, but when fed often during the summer, they will respond with plentiful growth.
When to Repot Once flowering is ended, plants can be replanted. Use a potting mix that is well-drained and has good air porosity, much like you would for any succulent or cactus.
Pruning After flowering, prune. Trim back the outer leaflets symmetrically over the plant once it has grown to the appropriate size and filled out the largest pot. This will minimize the plant’s overall size and volume.
Insects Easter Cactus typically don’t have any issues with insects. Mealybug and scale can harm plants, but they are not the preferred food source, and it usually takes an infected plant nearby to cause a problem.
Problem solving A damp, heavy potting mix is the main cause of stem and root rot in Easter Cactus culture. The majority of soilless or peat lite mixtures work well, and if the mixture looks a little heavy, you can add more perlite. For usage with cacti and succulents, there are specialized cactus soils available. Growing your Easter Cactus in a clay pot will improve soil aeration and hasten the potting mix’s drying out process. Typically, this stops stem and root rot.
Easter Cactus Collection from Logee Check out our unique Easter Cactus Collection if you want to bring some springtime color into your house. These cacti bloom profusely with vibrant flowers from March through May:
To find out more about the Spring/Easter Cactus plants described in this article, click on the links below: