Hatiora gaertneri is a species of epiphytic cactus which belongs to the tribe Rhipsalideae within the subfamily Cactoideae of the Cactaceae. Together with the hybrid with Hatiora rosea, Hatiora × graeseri, it is known as Easter cactus or Whitsun cactus and is a widely cultivated ornamental plant for its scarlet flowers.
Cacti’s common names reflect the period in which they flower in the Northern Hemisphere, namely in spring. It is a great plant to giva as a gift in spring. It has been artificially crossed with a pink-flowered species, Hatiora rosea, to form the hybrid Hatiora ×graeseri, cultivars of which have flowers in a wider range of colours.
This cactus is epiphytic, making its home on trees or less often on rocks (lithophytic) in sub-tropical rain forest, so they are not exposed to strong sunlight. Its preferred habitat is similar to that of many orchids.
The stems of the Easter cactus are made up of flat, narrow segments connected by a midrib and is similar to the Christmas cactus, they are just not scalloped or toothed. Fruits that follow after the flowering are small, round and of little ornamental value.
The Easter cactus is considered more difficult to grow than the Christmas or Thanksgiving cactus (Schlumbergera).
Common names: Easter Cactus, Whitsun Cactus, Holiday Cactus
Native: South America, Southeastern Brazil
Plant type: Cactus, Succulent, Evergreen, Epiphytic, or less often Lithophytic
Hardiness: USDA zones 11 – 14
Light: Half-shade, Bright Indirect Light
Soil: Neutral, Well-Drained. Rough. 1:1 mixture of potting soil to pumice, tree bark, or perlite.
Moisture: Moist, but never soggy. Responds badly to overwatering (the segments of the plant will start breaking off) or under-watering (the segments of the plant will collapse and start turning yellow).
Flowering period: March to May
Flower Color: Usually Red or Pink (Hybrids – Orange, White, Lavender, Peach)
Repeat Bloomer: Yes (May bloom again in the fall)
Height: 25 – 46 cm (10 – 18 in)
Spread: 30 – 36 cm (12 – 14 in)
Time to plant: Spring
Propagation: Stem segments may be removed in late Spring and the cut surface allowed to dry out before being placed in slightly moist soil.
Uses: Houseplant, Container, Hanging Basket, Tropical
Fertilizer: Use balanced liquid fertilizer diluted by half every two weeks. After flowering, stop fertilizing for one month.
Has Thorns: No
Toxicity: A mild toxicity has been reported in dogs and cats. It is in FDA Poisonous Plant Database
Tips: Summer temperatures around 25 °C (77 °F) are suggested, with lower temperatures down to 7–13 °C (45–55 °F) in winter (November to January in the Northern Hemisphere) to initiate good bud formation. Before the bloom time, stop feeding cacti and give them 12 to 14 hours of darkness a day for 5 to 6 weeks. Once flower buds appear, move the plants to a bright-light location and resume normal
watering and fertilizing. Never disturb a blooming plant for any reason except to water it. Pinch off the withered flowers to prevent fruit formation. After flowering, water sparingly for one month to give the plant a rest.
Keep your Easter cacti away from exterior doors as well as heating and air conditioning vents or units. They will not tolerate dry air.
Cover photo by Kor!An (Корзун Андрей)
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Safety notes: This website is for educational purposes only and is not medical advice, and please check with your doctor before using plants if you are pregnant, using medications or have other health conditions.