Botanical Name: Hatiora gaertneri
Type: Succulent/ Cactus
Origin: The Easter Cactus originate from the tropical rainforests of Brazil.
Height: On average, this house plant will grow to heights of approximately 30 to 60 cm (12 to 24 in).
Soil: A 50:50 mixture of fir bark (fine grade) and potting soil is ideal for the Hatiora gaertneri.
Light: This plant requires bright, but indirect light. Direct sunlight should be avoided, as it can cause brown spots.
Humidity: The moderate levels of humidity required by the Easter Cactus can be achieved by keeping the pot on a wet pebble tray, or by misting the plant every day.
Temperatures: To encourage the setting of flower buds, Hatiora gaertneri needs to be kept cool - daytime temperatures should not exceed 16 to 18 degrees C (60 to 65 degrees F), and night temperatures need to be as low as 7 to 13 degrees C (45 to 55 degrees F). Once in bud, the plant should be kept in temperatures of 21 to 24 degrees C (70 to 75 degrees F) during the day. At night, temperatures should be allowed to drop to between 16 and 21 degrees C (60 to 70 degrees F).
Water: While the Easter Cactus is growing and flowering, its soil needs to be kept moist - though care should be taken not to get it soggy. When flowering has ended, watering needs to be reduced to a minimum. If the roots are allowed to get too dry, the stems will wilt or shrivel, while over-watering will result in yellowing stems.
Fertiliser: Hatiora gaertneri needs to be fed once a fortnight with a diluted (1:1) liquid 10-10-10 fertiliser. After the last of the flowers have dropped off, fertilising should be stopped for a month to give the plant a well-earned rest.
Propagation: The cut ends of stem cuttings - between 1 and 4 segments long - need to dry out for 24 hours before placing the cuttings (upright) into moistened perlite, where they will root within around 3 to 4 weeks.
Description and Care Tips
The epiphytic Easter Cactus belongs to the Cactaceae family and is native to the rain forests of South America. It is easily distinguishable from other types of holiday cactus by the fact that its narrow, flat stem segments are not toothed or scalloped.
Another distinguishing difference consists of the star burst-shaped blooms of this house plant. Hatiora gaertneri can be expected to bloom for about 4 weeks in spring, typically around April and/ or May. Predominantly available in shades of red and pink, some varieties will also bloom in white or orange.
Blooming needs to be encouraged with approximately 8 to 10 weeks of cooler, shorter days. Temperatures need to be kept low (see above for details), and the plant should be given 14 hours of darkness per day during this period. If necessary, sunlight should be blocked out by placing a box or a paper bag over the plant.
Once in bud, the plant should not be moved under any circumstances - moving it may result in sudden temperature changes, which will result in the buds dropping off.
After flowering has finished, the Easter Cactus needs a rest. It should be watered sparingly for about 4 weeks, during which time fertilising should be stopped completely. At the end of this resting period, regular fertilising and watering can be resumed.