How To Indentify And Care Easter Cactus

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:

  • Rhipsalidopsis Gaertneri or Schlumbergera Gaertneri are the main species, Hatiora Gaertneri being the modern classification.
  • Rhipsalidopsis Rosea, now Hatiora Rosea.
  • Rhipsalidopsis Graeseri.
  • Rhipsalis Baccifera has berries which develop from its white flowers in a young healthy specimen.
  • Schlumbergera Russelliana has a more purple color and used to be sold in places as an Easter cactus but is rarely seen nowadays.

Differences between Easter Cactus and Christmas Cactus

Easter Cactus

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 Care

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.

Easter Cactus plant

The sequence used to cultivate an Easter cactus is quite different to that of the Christmas cactus:

  1. Broadly, September to January is the period in which to rest the plant. Maintained through the winter period at a minimum 50F, the Easter cactus should be watered only sparingly to avoid its stems shriveling. Resting encourages better flowering and a cool room is an ideal location. Though not as sensitive as most Christmas cacti, it is worth noting with some Easter varieties that if they are kept fairly dry during the winter, they will better withstand cold temperatures.
  2. During February and March, watering should be increased and the plant can be fed periodically when the buds have begun to appear.
  3. The flowering period of April to May requires good light.
  4. The Easter cactus propagates fairly easily from stem cuttings after flowering. Division can be attempted with some varieties as the plant ages.
  5. The plant should be kept relatively warm through the summer. It is often recommended to stand them outside when the weather permits.

The general rules for Easter cactus care are:

  • They benefit from humidity so misting the leaves occasionally is advisable.
  • If overwatered, Easter cactus roots will rot. Though requiring good light, direct sunlight should be avoided. This is especially true during warm periods when the sun may be too strong. Some enthusiasts recommend keeping the plant in filtered light.
  • The succulent stems of the Easter cactus are particularly attractive to slugs.
    As the Easter cactus is hardier than its Christmas relative, moving the plant around is not as significant a problem, though frequent relocation is not advisable.
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With the endless passion for organic living, I - Ann Sanders has come up with the idea of creating A Green Hand. Being the founder and editor of A Green Hand, my goal is to provide everyone with a wide range of tips about healthy lifestyle with multiform categories including gardening, health & beauty, food recipe,...

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