Easter or Spring Blooming Cactus

I have a plant that I thought was a Christmas Cactus even though the leaves looked a little different than my other Christmas cactus, but it never bloomed in December. I just looked at it and it has lots of buds, but now I’m not sure what it is???

Hi Tony,

Deep pink Easter Cactus

Easter Cactus

Your plant is called an Easter or Spring Cactus and although it resembles a Christmas Cactus, it is a member of a totally different family.

Christmas cactus are members of the Schlumbergera family, while the Easter cactus is a type of Rhipsalidopsis.

Both plants have flat segmented stems with slightly serrated edges. The segments are really the leaves of the plant. An Easter Cactus blooms during the spring and is a little more finicky than a Christmas Cactus. Here are some care tips on how to grow an Easter cactus.

Light: Medium bright lightVery few houseplants should be placed in direct sun. High light refers only to bright indirect light since direct sun often burns the leaves of indoor houseplants. An area that is too hot and dry encourages Spider Mites and causes blooms to quickly fade. A northern exposure really doesn't provide enough light for high light plants. These plants need to be placed directly in front of an east-facing window, within 1-3 feet of a west-facing window, and within 5 ft. of a south facing window. A high light area has over 300 ft. candles of light., but no direct sun. Too much bright lightVery few houseplants should be placed in direct sun. High light refers only to bright indirect light since direct sun often burns the leaves of indoor houseplants. An area that is too hot and dry encourages Spider Mites and causes blooms to quickly fade. A northern exposure really doesn't provide enough light for high light plants. These plants need to be placed directly in front of an east-facing window, within 1-3 feet of a west-facing window, and within 5 ft. of a south facing window. A high light area has over 300 ft. candles of light. causes the leaves to get a reddish color (sort of pretty).

Water: Keep the soil slightly moist but never soggy. If an Easter cactus totally dries out, leaf segments fall off.

Plant Food: Feed monthly with a balanced plant food when the plant is actively growing and producing new leaves. Dilute your fertilizerPlants need fertilizer only when they are actively growing. Slow growing plants in low light require very little plant food. Too much fertilizer is worse than not enough. Most plants prefer a water soluble plant food at 1/2 the recommended strength. Plants that are in bloom or dormant should not be fertilized. Houseplant food contains nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K). A fertilizer containing these elements in equal proportion is considered a balanced plant food. Nitrogen helps in photosynthesis and encourages the growth of leaves and stems. Potassium and phosphorus also help in photosynthesis and aid in root and flower development. Most fertilizers have trace elements of other minerals that are lacking in the soil but are necessary for good plant growth. Fertilizers have a high salt content. If a plant is not producing new leaves and doesn’t absorb the fertilizer, salts build up in the soil. These salts can burn the roots, discolor the leaves, and cause new growth to be small. to 1/2 the recommended strength.

Potting: Re-pot every few years in the spring. These plants like to be root bound, so it may need new soil but not a larger container.

Temperature: Easter cactus like cool temperatures, even during the day. These plants can bloom for months when nighttime temperatures are 55 to 60 degrees F. (13-16 C.).

Flowering: Easter cactus, like Christmas cactus, are photo-tropic plants;
they need  cool temperatures (50 F, (10 C.).) , 12-14 hours of darkness, and no plant food to set their flower buds. Water lightly from October to November. In  December or January  move the plant to a warmer location ( 60 to 65 degrees – 16-18 C.). This should encourage the plant to bloom in the spring.