How To Grow and Care for an Easter Cactus
You've got a Christmas cactus for winter flowers, so why not grow an Easter cactus for spring flowers? Easter cactus care is simple and rewarding!
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I bought my first Easter cactus many years ago before I even knew what it was. But from looking at it, I figured it was probably related to the more popular Christmas cactus. I loved that it flowered in the spring right around Easter (hence the name) instead of winter.
What Is an Easter Cactus?
It’s a flowering plant originally found in Brazil’s tropical regions. You can find it labeled as Easter cactus or one of its botanical names, Hatiora gaertneri or Rhipsalidopsis gaertneri. The flowers are usually white, red, orange or dark pink.
How Is an Easter Cactus Different From a Christmas Cactus?
Easter cactus is sometimes confused with Christmas and Thanksgiving cactus. Here are the differences:
- The Easter cactus blooms in the spring instead of late fall or winter.
- Easter cactus flowers are star-shaped with many petals. The Christmas and Thanksgiving cactus have tubular flowers.
- Easter cactus foliage is narrower with purplish edges and tiny bristles on the ends.
- They’re not the same plant genus. Christmas and Thanksgiving cactus are in the genus Schlumbergera.
Where Should I Keep an Easter Cactus?
These grow best in indirect light and cooler temperatures. East and North window exposures are ideal.
Easter cactus forms flower buds in response to cooler nighttime temperatures and longer periods of darkness. If you let your Easter cactus naturally form flower buds, you should have blooms in the spring. But extra care is usually required to ensure your Easter cactus reblooms.
Easter Cactus Care
Light and temperature
As mentioned above, place your Easter cactus in indirect light where nighttime temperatures are cooler than daytime. In summer, you can put it outside in the shade. Bring it back inside when nighttime temperatures drop below 55 degrees.
Soil and watering
Grow your Easter cactus in a soil mix labeled for cacti and other succulents. Choose a container with holes for water to drain, because these plants don’t like soggy soil. Water when the top inch or so of soil is dry.
Easter cacti don’t have deep roots, so choose wide, shallow containers. They often grow better when a bit root-bound.
The best time to fertilize an Easter cactus is a few months after it has bloomed, generally late spring to early summer. Use a general-purpose houseplant fertilizer.
Pests and diseases
Easter cacti are not bothered by many pests or diseases. Indoors, it is possible for mealybugs, spider mites or scale to infect them. If you put your Easter cactus outside in summer, check it occasionally for slugs. Before bringing it back inside, water it thoroughly and inspect for pests.
Repotting and propagating
Easter cacti don’t mind being crowded in their container, so keep that in mind before deciding when to repot. They can grow happily for several years in the same container.
To propagate an Easter cactus, take stem cuttings in late spring or summer. Each can be two or three stem segments. Allow them to air dry for a few days. Then dip the cuttings in a rooting hormone before putting them in soil to root. Use the same type of soil you grow them in. Keep the cuttings moist until roots form.
How Long Does an Easter Cactus Last?
Several years or longer with proper care. By occasionally taking cuttings, you can grow your Easter cactus for decades!
Where To Buy an Easter Cactus
You’ll find Easter cacti in bloom in the floral departments of most grocery stores in the spring, or at garden centers or florist shops where they sell houseplants.
Look for plants with more buds than blooms to enjoy the flowers longer. If your new Easter cactus is growing in a lightweight plastic pot, repot it once it finishes blooming.
If you’re looking for a particular color of Easter cactus, check an online nursery.