Q. How can I care for my Easter cactus? When will it bloom?
There are two species of plants known as "Easter cactus" - Hatiora gaertneri (unresolved synonyms include Rhipsalidopsis gaertneri, Epiphyllum gaertneri and Epiphyllopsis gaertneri) and Rhipsalidopsis rosea (synonym Hatiora rosea). The former has redish-orange blooms whereas the latter has smaller pink flowers. Numerous hybrids with different flower forms and color have been produced but they can be treated identically.
Easter cactus blooms in early spring, hence its name. In its natural habitat in tropical Brazil, Easter cactus grows as an epiphyte in the upper storeys of trees and this provides a hint as to how the plant should be grown in your home.
Easter Cactus prefers summer and fall temperatures of 75 - 80° F. and winter temperatures of 45 - 55° F. It likes bright light but not full sun. Easter cactus can be grown in commercial bromeliad soil mix or you can make your own mix from potting soil mixed 1:1 with pumice or perlite. It also prefers a humid atmosphere, so grow it on a humidity tray or spray it with water regularly.
To get your Easter cactus to rebloom you will need to follow a careful watering and temperature control schedule:
- in the fall, start letting the soil dry out and giving the plant only enough water to prevent it from shrivelling. Also move the plant into a cool location (45 - 55°F.). Buds will form in late winter and the plant Will flower in early spring.
- After flowering, move the plant to a warm location (75 - 80°F.) and resume watering. Allow the soil to become dry between watering. The plants may be given soluble, balanced fertilizer every week or two during the summer growing period. Re-potting ever year or two will produce healthier plants.
Common problems include bud drop (too little light or too warm in winter), yellowing, elongated growth (too warm), soft, discolored growth (too much humidity), wilting, yellowed leaf margins with bud drop (too little humidity) and rotting, bleached leaves (overwatering).
Courtesy of NYBG Plant Information Service