The Easter cactus (Hatiora gaertneri) is a member of the Cactaceae family. Native to the rainforests of South America, it is so named because it blooms around the Easter holiday in the northern hemisphere. In this article we will discuss how to propagate, grow Easter cacti and their care.
How to Propagate an Easter Cactus
You can grow Easter cactus from seeds or cuttings. Harvesting seeds can be difficult as you have to pollinate the plant, collect the seeds, and remain patient while waiting to see if the seeds will thrive.
For this reason, it is more popular and much easier to propagate Easter cactus from cuttings. The best way to propagate is two to three months after the flowering period. Follow these simple steps:
Propagating your Easter cactus is relatively easy, as the leaf segments can root to form new plants. Additionally, it will force your cactus to branch, as it will branch off at the point where you remove the leaf segments and two new “branches” will begin to grow.
Remove the leaf segments from the plant by gently pulling or twisting them. You can do this with a single sheet segment or delete multiple segments at once.
Allow the segments to dry for a day or two for the cut to heal.
Plant the cuttings 1 cm deep in moist potting soil. If you prefer, you can dip the cuttings in rooting powder before planting, but this is usually not necessary.
Keep the soil moist but not soggy until the cuttings are rooted.
With proper care, your Easter cactus will thrive and produce abundant blooms in the spring. It will increase in size and may need to be repotted every two to three years for roots to grow.
Care and cultivation of the Easter cactus
The Easter cactus is native to the Brazilian rainforest, where it lives in the shade of tall trees. They thrive best when given similar conditions at home.
Easter cacti prefer bright, indirect sunlight for most of the day. They will thrive in direct sun early in the morning or late in the day, but will suffer if they receive too much direct sun.
If you’re growing it indoors, place your Easter cactus in a bright room that gets plenty of indirect light, but keep it several feet away from the window to avoid direct sunlight.
Red leaf margins are a telltale sign that your Easter cactus is getting too much direct sunlight.
Also keep in mind that your Easter cactus needs complete darkness at night to promote greater blooms.
Easter cacti do well in average home temperatures, but need cool temperatures during the winter to promote spring flowering.
Place your Easter cactus in an unheated room with temperatures between 55 and 60 degrees for 12 weeks to encourage flowering.
Unlike desert cacti, which thrive in arid conditions, Easter cacti prefer high humidity.
Place your Easter cactus in a pebble tray filled with water or use a humidifier to increase the humidity around it.
Easter cacti grow on trees and rocks in the rainforest and are accustomed to growing on loose soil or rubble.
They do not do well with dense potting mixes. Purchase a quality potting soil for cacti or succulents, or make your own by mixing equal parts perlite, shredded tree bark, and general-purpose potting soil.
General-purpose potting soil is too dense for poinsettia plants and can lead to problems with poor drainage, waterlogged soil, or root rot.
Easter cacti are considered very hardy and do well with regular fertilization. About two months after the plant has completely finished flowering.
Fertilize your Easter cactus once or twice a month with a cactus fertilizer from spring through fall when the plant is actively growing.
It does not need fertilizer in autumn and winter, when the plant is at rest. Fertilize again in the spring when growth resumes.
Easter cacti have the ability to store water in their fleshy leaves to sustain themselves in times of drought, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore their watering needs.
They prefer evenly moist soil that dries out slightly between waterings. They will suffer if the soil dries out completely or stays dry for too long.
Avoid watering them with cold water, as this can shock their tender roots. Room temperature or lukewarm water is best. Also use filtered water or rainwater whenever possible. If you must use tap water, let it sit overnight so the chlorine and other chemical additives can evaporate.
Pruning an Easter cactus is optional, but it will help it bloom again the following year. The only rule of thumb is to prune right after the plant blooms in the spring and during its active growth phase. Don’t wait to prune an Easter cactus in fall or winter.
To trim, focus on separating the upper pad from the shaft at the knuckle. Use your fingers or disinfected garden shears. If an irregular break occurs, be sure to cut it.
It may also be interesting to read: How to propagate and grow the Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera).
Pruning will encourage the growth of new stems for a bushier plant with more flowers.
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