How to Grow an Easter Cactus

Overview

Easter cactus (Rhipsalidopsis gaertneri) is an epiphytic cactus. This cactus grows among tree branches in the rain forest. Easter cactus has flattened branches made up of jointed stem segments with rounded corners. Branches grow upright until they reach 12 inches long when they start drooping. Red and purple blossoms appear in the spring at the ends of the branches. Easter cactus is used in large plant pots as houseplants and hanging baskets. This epiphytic cactus grows to the size of its container.

Step 1

Plant your Easter cactus in a heavy plant pot using a quick draining soil. Use 2 parts peat moss, 1 part potting soil and 1 part sand to create a soil mixture high in organic material with good drainage.

Step 2

Feed the Easter cactus with a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer each month from the end of blooming through late summer.

Step 3

Keep the soil moist while the Easter cactus is in flower. Pour water in the plant pot until it runs out the bottom. Allow the soil to dry a bit between waterings from May until February.

Step 4

Place the Easter cactus in an area where the temperatures drop to 55 degrees F. at night from February until March. Lower night time temperature promotes flower bud formation. Once the buds start to open, increase the temperature.

Step 5

Transplant the Easter cactus only when the soil becomes compacted or it outgrows its container. Easter cactus grows best with cramped roots and it does not need repotting each year. Early summer, after the last flower has faded, is the best time to repot the Easter cactus.

Step 6

Remove sections of branches that consist of 2 to 5 segments in order to create more Easter cactus plants. In May or June, pinch the branch off at a joint and let it dry overnight. Insert the cut end 1 inch deep in a small plant pot of moist perlite. Water well and cover with a plastic bag to create a small greenhouse. Place in low light and the branch will grow roots in 6 to 8 weeks.

Tips and Warnings

  • Easter cactus needs medium light exposure to thrive. This cactus survives low light conditions for only 2 to 3 months.

Things You'll Need

  • Easter cactus
  • Heavy plant pot
  • Peat moss
  • Potting soil
  • Sand
  • Fertilizer
  • Water
  • Small plant pot
  • Perlite
  • Plastic bag

References

  • Aggie Horticulture: Easter Cactus
  • University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension: Care of Cactus in the Home
  • Iowa State University---Reiman Gardens: Growing Holiday Cacti PDF
Keywords: Easter cactus, Rhipsalidopsis gaertneri, growing epiphytic cactus

About this Author

Karen Carter has spent the last three years working as a technology specialist in the public school system. This position included hardware/software installation, customer support, and writing training manuals. She also spent four years as a newspaper editor/reporter at the Willapa Harbor Herald.