The Easter Cactus, botanical name (Schlumbergera gaertneri), is a cactus species native to southern Brazil. This member of the genus Schlumbergera is closely related to and often confused with two other popular cacti: the Thanksgiving Cactus (Schlumbergera. truncata) and the Christmas Cactus (Schlumbergera x buckleyi).
All three cacti have distinctly segmented stems that are each slightly different. For example, the Christmas Cactus has oblong segments, while the Thanksgiving Cactus has crab-like ridged segments. On the other hand, the Easter Cactus sections are slightly more rounded.
There is also some confusion regarding the correct scientific name for this plant. With some sources list it as Rhipsalideae gaertneri or Hatiora gaertneri. This debate was settled recently after some studies were done into the molecular structure of this species. It was placed in the Schlumbergera Genus as a result.
Easter Cactus Main Characteristics
|Common Name||Easter Cactus, Holiday Cactus, Whitsun|
|Botanical Name||Schlumbergera gaertneri (Previously Hatiora gaertneri)|
|Synonyms||Epiphyllum gaertneri, Epiphyllum makoyanum, Epiphyllum russellianum, Hatiora gaertneri, Rhipsalidopsis gaertneri, Rhipsalis gaertneri|
|USDA Hardiness Zones||10 to 12|
|Mature Size||Height: 0.5-1 feet, Spread: 1-2 feet|
|Propagation methods||by seeds, by cuttings|
Easter Cactus Care
These plants are grown for their gorgeous flowers that bloom around Easter each year. Flower buds typically start to form in February in preparation for the blooms in April and May. Caring for them is a demanding task that requires exacting standards. Here’s how to get started.
Light and Location
Easter Cactus plants do best when they are placed in a location that receives bright, indirect light. Direct sunlight can result in leaf burn. Instead, place them in a bright location with filtered sunlight to replicate their natural habitat. A spot near a window but out of direct sunlight is also serviceable. A hanging basket by the patio or deck would be perfect if you could manage it.
Easter Cactus plants should be watered when the top inch of soil feels dry to the touch. They hate overwatering, so ensure the soil is well-drained before watering. You can test this with a finger; if the soil is wet, wait a few days before watering again. Ease up on the watering in the winter as the plant enters dormancy.
Unlike other cacti, Easter Cactus plants prefer cooler temperatures. The ideal range is between 55 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit. They can be placed outdoors in the summer months but should be brought back inside before temperatures drop below 50 degrees. Placing them outside in the summer encourages better blooms in the flowering season.
These plants prefer a humidity level of 50-70%. Usually, no special steps are needed to maintain this level as most homes are naturally this humid. But, if the humidity is too low for some reason, you can place the pot on a tray of wet pebbles to increase the humidity around the plant. You can also mist the fleshy leaves to increase moisture levels.
Easter Cactus plants should be fertilized with a diluted liquid fertilizer during the growing season (March-May). Find the instructions on the label of your specific fertilizer. Do not fertilize in the winter.
Propagating Easter Cactus
Stem cuttings are the go-to method for propagating these cacti.
- Cut a healthy stem segment from the plant using a sterile tool.
- Allow the cutting to callus over before planting it in slightly moist soil.
- Ensure the soil is well-drained and light.
- Wait for the cutting to take root.
Potting and Repotting Easter Cactus
When the Easter Cactus plant has outgrown its pot, it can be repotted into a pot one size larger. This usually takes a few years, but some variants grow slightly quicker. Wait for the flowering season to end before repotting to not lose out on the flowers, as the process causes stress to the cactus preventing it from blooming. Use a soil mixture specifically for cacti and succulents. The soil needs to be light and fast-draining. If it allows water to stagnate, the plant won’t survive long.
Easter Cactus is non-toxic. You can place it around the house without worry.
Easter Cactus plants are susceptible to mealybugs and scale. You can control these pests with horticultural oil or insecticidal soap. Be sure to read the label of the product before use.
Some common problems with Easter Cactus plants are:
- Leaf burn from direct sun exposure
- Rotting roots due to over-watering
- Wilting leaves due to a lack of water
How to Get Your Easter Cactus to Bloom Again – Easy Tips (Video)
How to Get Your Easter Cactus to Bloom Again – Easy Tips
How To Propagate Easter Cactus?
Stem cuttings best propagate these cacti. Pick a large stem segment, about 3 inches, and make a clean cut where it attaches to the other segments. After the cutting has been allowed to rest for a few days, plant the cutting in a fresh pot of moist cactus mix. The cutting will take root in a few weeks.
How To Care For Easter Cactus?
These cacti need bright light but not direct sun. Water thoroughly, but only after making sure the soil is dry. Fertilize during the growing season with diluted liquid fertilizer. Don’t water or feed the cactus in winter when it goes dormant. It prefers a cool environment with average to high humidity.
How To Tell The Difference Between Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas Cactus?
The easiest way to tell the difference between them is by their different stem segments. Easter Cactus have rounded segments, Thanksgiving Cactus’ are ridged, and Christmas Cactus’ are tear-drop shaped. You can also differentiate them by the time of year that they bloom. Easter Cacti blooms in late winter or early spring, Thanksgiving cacti bloom in late fall, and Christmas cacti bloom around Christmas.
“Easter cactus on white background” by wuestenigel is licensed under CC BY 2.0