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The Easter cactus brings a burst of color when needed the most with its cheerful spring blooms in shades of pink, red, white, purple, and orange. This popular houseplant is easy to grow if you understand its needs. So, today, we will help you care for this holiday plant with its sweet flowers.
Plant Name: Hatiora gaertneri
Other Name: Easter Cactus
Plant Type: Epythitic Cacti
Native Areas: Brazilia
Light Requirements: Dappled Light
Watering: Moist Soil
Fertilizer: Balanced Fertilizer
Growth: 8-12 inches
Propagation: Seeds and Leaf Cuttings
Soil Type: Porous Soil
Temperature: 55°F to 60°F
USDA Hardiness Zones: 10-12
More About The Easter Cacti
Easter cactus is a tropical, flowering succulent native to the Brazilian rainforests. Botanically known as Hatiora gaertneri, this epiphyte grows on trees and rocks in shaded forests. Like poinsettias and Christmas cacti, Easter cactus got its common name because it blooms in early spring around Easter time indoors.
While some cacti thrive in arid desert climates, Easter cactus prefers warm, humid environments. Its segmented stems act like leaves, taking in sunlight to fuel photosynthesis. This gives the plant its common name of “leaf cactus.” Rows of bristles run along the edges of each stem.
Easter cacti are subtropical perennials, living 3 to 4 years on average in their natural environments. With proper care, they can live much longer and reach heights of 12-18 inches tall. Let’s look at how to help your Easter cactus flourish and flower.
Easter Cactus Care
While the Easter cactus belongs to the same family as the desert cacti, the needs differ as it flourishes in cooler temperatures and cannot handle direct sunlight. The cactus prefers humidity and does not grow in soil in its natural habitat.
But that does not mean you cannot grow your spring cactus in soil. So, to ensure that your Easter cactus thrive, it helps to provide each with their needed care. Here is a detailed guide on taking care of this holiday cacti.
The Easter Cactus requires a very porous mix of slightly acidic soil to thrive. A high-quality, very chunky local mix designed for cacti or succulents is an excellent choice. You can often find cactus or succulent potting mixes commonly sold at garden centers. These mixes are formulated to provide good drainage.
Incorporate equal amounts of organic compost into the potting mix, such as peat moss. This helps the soil retain moisture without becoming waterlogged. Adding perlite or coarse sand to the mix improves drainage and prevents the roots from sitting in water. It also helps create a light, airy texture in the soil.
Vermiculite can be added in small amounts to enhance water retention while maintaining good drainage. It’s beneficial if you live in a dry climate. Remember to use a pot with drainage holes to prevent water from accumulating at the bottom of the pot.
Overwatering can be detrimental to the health of your Easter Cactus, so it’s essential to allow excess water to escape.
Easter Cactus Sunlight Needs
Easter Cacti have specific light requirements to thrive and produce their beautiful blooms. These houseplants prefer bright shade with filtered sunlight. To grow indoors, place your cactus near a window with sheer curtains to receive bright natural light but not the hot sun that can scorch the fleshy leaves.
Some morning sun, especially during the cooler months, can benefit Easter Cacti. The gentle morning sunlight can encourage blooming. Nevertheless, it’s essential to protect the plant from the intense afternoon sun, which can be too harsh even when grown outdoors.
Easter Cacti have specific light requirements that change throughout the year. They typically need more light during their active growing season in spring and summer and slightly less during the fall and winter when they may be preparing to bloom. Adjust the light exposure based on the season.
Tropical Cactus Watering
Your spring cactus does not like the roots constantly moist and needs to let the soil dry between watering to prevent root rot. Hence, you can water well and allow the excess water to drain through the drainage holes.
Then, when you notice the saucer filled with water, empty it to keep the roots from getting wet feet, during late fall to early winter, cut back on the watering as it helps encourage flowering. Once your spring cactus flowers, you can water more as the soil must not completely dry during the blooming period.
Temperature & Humidity Needs
Compared to other cacti plants, your Easter cacti prefer the temperature to be a bit cooler. The truth is that your spring cactus needs temperate climates to bloom. Your succulent will bloom at nighttime temperatures between 55° to 60° F.
Another thing is that while the epiphytic cactus prefers humidity, they still do well in the home. Still, if the air is dry, we recommend providing your Easter cactus with added moisture using a pebble tray or humidifier.
This will ensure you have a cheery Easter cactus who will gift you those beautiful flowers.
Fertilizing of Easter Cactus
Like the Thanksgiving and Christmas cactus, the spring cactus is a high-maintenance feeder. You can provide your plant with a regular feed two months after you remove the spent flowers and it finishes blooming. A balanced liquid houseplant fertilizer like a 10-10-10 given once a month is ideal until the next blooming phase.
You can then amend the soil using compost or organic fertilizers yearly.
Repotting and Pruning
One thing the Easter cactus loves is being pot-bound. So, you only need to repot your plant every two years, providing fresh soil. If the pot still has enough room for the roots to grow, plant your cactus in the same pot.
The best container for the Easter cactus is clay pots. The clay helps with the aeration and gives added drainage. The best time to transplant your cactus is in spring or right after the blooming cycle completes.
There is no need to prune your houseplant, but it does help with reblooming. The best time to trim your Easter cactus is after it flowers during spring and is still actively growing. We recommend focusing on the top leaf pad above the stem at the joint.
You can use your fingers or a sterilized garden scissor to give an even break. The pruning also helps encourage new growth to grow into a bushy plant.
Propagating Easter Cactus
Like other plants, you can propagate your Easter cacti through seeds and individual leaf cuttings. Still, harvesting the seeds is challenging as you need to pollinate your plant. The popular method is with the cuttings and done two months after it blooms.
Give one of the leaves a twist at the terminal leaf sections without breaking the base.
Next, stick the bottom section of the leaf into a small cup or a pot with potting mix with half of the leaf in the dirt.
Give the cuttings a misting and place a plastic bag over them to retain moisture.
Keep misting until you notice roots forming and repot resuming with watering.
Holiday Cactus Varieties
As mentioned, the Easter cactus belongs to a group of holiday cacti that are all epiphytic cacti that has similar care needs. So, check them out to add to your tropical cacti collection.
The fancy botanical name for Thanksgiving cacti is Schlumbergera truncate, and the blooming period is from mid-November to December. Yet, you may find the cactus blooming through to January.
The claw-shaped, pointed, hooked leaves that look like pincers from a crab distinguish the Thanksgiving cactus from the Easter cacti. For this reason, many gardeners refer to it as the crab cactus.
The succulent is native to Brazil, growing in the natural rainforest habitats of tree canopies. The plant can grow up to three inches long, displaying a satin flower that attracts hummingbirds.
This Christmas, cacti also goes by the botanical name Schlumbergera bridgesii, another long-lived plant. The cactus is easy to root, and all you need is a pinch of the Y-shaped branches to stick in some cactus mix to root in no time.
The Christmas cactus will develop hanging flowers in magenta color and blooms in late November to early February. The plant displays a flattened stem that is smooth with scalloped edges.
The cactus looks great in a hanging basket as the branches hang down compared to the Thanksgiving cacti growing upwards.
Easter Cactus Diseases and Pests
Never let anyone tell you your indoor plant does not get any disease or pests. You may find common insects like scale, fungus gnats, spider mites, and mealybugs feasting on it as on other plants.
The other concern is root rot from overwatering or using the incorrect soil mix. While it is an easy-going plant, you may also spot the following problems:
Yes, your poor cactus looks like it will fall apart at any moment. The leading cause is stress from over or underwatering. The best is to keep an eye on the soil where spring cacti grow.
If you feel it is too dry, provide your plant with water, and if it is too wet, we recommend moving it to direct light for the soil to dry.
Alternatively, you can take the fallen pads and root them in a fresh potting mix.
Your Plant Looks Wilted
Wilting is another sign of stress from over, underwatering, or too much direct sunlight.
If you notice yellow leaves, your plant needs repotting. While the Easter cactus loves being slightly pot-bound, it can be that the soil is not draining the water well. When you transplant your cactus, you can check the roots to remove the dead and damaged ones.
Frequently Asked Questions
Individual flowers may only last 1 to 2 weeks, but a whole plant in bloom can remain colorful for up to 6 weeks.
Flower colors range from red, pink, orange, purple, white, and yellow shades. The exact hue may vary each year.
Lack of blooms often results from insufficient light, inconsistent watering, temperature stress, or lack of a cool period.
Occasional misting provides helpful humidity. Take care not to get water on the fleshy stems.
It is mildly toxic if ingested. The plant irritates the mouth and stomach and may cause vomiting or diarrhea. Keep it out of pets’ reach.
Provide bright, indirect light, consistent moisture, humidity, and cool temperatures from late fall through winter to set next year’s flower buds. Follow these Easter cactus care tips, and you’ll have a thriving plant ready to usher in spring with gorgeous blooms year after year.