Easter Cactus vs. Christmas Cactus
It's easy to confuse the Easter cactus with the Christmas cactus at first glance; their flowers are similar. But there's one big, obvious difference: Each one blooms around the time of the holiday for which it's named.
There is slight difference between the two species. An Easter cactus has leaves that are wide and round and trimmed with a red tint. The Christmas cactus' leaves are pointed.
The Easter and Christmas cactus flowers are similar. Both plants sprout beautiful star-like flowers in a variety of reds, pinks and whites, growing from the tips of leaves.
September and October are the pre-flowering months for Christmas cactus plants. The Easter cactus' pre-flowering time is January, February and March. Both species require that they be kept dry and cool until flower buds form.
The Easter cactus, a spring bloomer, has been considered to be a symbol of rebirth. The Christmas cactus is a sign of the holidays, similar to a poinsettia. Do not fertilize the plants when they are blooming because this will interfere with flowering.
After the Christmas and Easter holiday seasons, the plants should be given about a 30-day rest. Place them in a cool room and provide limited water. Don't worry if they lose a few leaves; it's normal.
Differences Between Christmas & Easter Cactus
Both types of cactus originated in the same part of the world, the forests in Brazil, but each type's kind of forest differs. The Christmas cactus comes from tropical rainforests while its lookalike, the Easter cactus, grows in drier forests. As with all plants, each cactus' origin determines the amount of sunlight, heat and water it needs to remain healthy. Holiday cacti have no true leaves; instead, each of their stems consists of a chain of leaflike sections with a bloom at the end. The Christmas cactus stem sections have rounded, smooth edges with a little rippling. They need much less water than typical greenery. All holiday plants must be in a certain type of environment that mimics that of their origin in order to encourage blooming at the right time. Move the Easter cactus to a warmer room in December, and water it about once each week, just to keep its soil from drying completely.