The Easter cactus is similar to the Christmas cactus but the true species have some differences. The Easter cactus is easier to maintain. Most are hybrids.
Easter cacti are forest cacti. They are epiphytes that originate from Brazil. Its earlier scientific genus was Rhipsalidopsis although Schlumbergera Gaertneri was the original name. Most garden plant retailers continue to sell Easter cacti under the Rhipsalidopsis name. The more recent scientific name of Hatiora has not quite settled into normal use everywhere as yet.
Hybrids are available in a wide range of colors. They are mainly sold in red shades while both pink and carmine are popular for Easter. Non-hybrid species which have on occasion been labeled as Easter cacti include:
The Easter cactus is cultivated later than the Christmas cactus for obvious reasons! The Christmas cactus flowers from November through into early January. Easter cacti flower in April and May. The cultivation process differs because of the difference in the seasons when they are active and when they should be rested.
Easter cactus flowers form much more easily than Christmas cactus flowers and are generally more numerous. Both plants are fairly hardy as houseplants. As cacti, they are easy to maintain but to renew their flowers each year, or if they flower then to maintain the quality, can be challenging. The Easter cactus is generally easier to propagate after flowering each year than its Christmas equivalent.
The Easter cactus has more rounded edges to its leaf segments than the Christmas cactus. Easter cactus leaves are much more angled towards their central stem than the flatter leaves of the Christmas cactus, creating a more V-shaped cross-section and slightly more visual impact. The Easter cactus also usually has a darker red or scarlet bell-shaped flowers, and generally a slightly darker green leaf than the Christmas cactus. Pink-flowering Easter cacti are often more preferred, leading to a proliferation of these types of hybrids in recent years.
Easter cactus plants often stand erect when young, then become a compact shrub shape before becoming a more trailing plant. Easter cacti work well in a hanging basket, especially if allowing the basket to swivel on its bracket or links so that the plant can be turned through 90 degrees each day during its active period to maintain an even growth.
The sequence used to cultivate an Easter cactus is quite different to that of the Christmas cactus:
The general rules for Easter cactus care are: