Hatiora Gaertneri

Easter Cactus

This holiday cactus is so named because it blooms around the Easter holiday in the northern hemisphere.



It will mostly care for itself once it is set up properly, although certain conditions are required for the Easter cactus to bloom the following year.


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Description

A native of southeastern Brazil, Hatiora gaertneri is a tropical cactus that requires a certain amount of regular water in order to survive. The fully grown cactus resembles a shrub. In the wild, these cacti grow on trees or rocks only, so they require a special potting mixture to keep them healthy in your home.

How It Looks: The Easter cactus forms from a single, squat stem. From this, elongated leaf segments grow. Unlike other holiday cacti, the Easter variety has no scallops or teeth on a healthy leaf. These leaves darken in color as they age, beginning life as pale green. They will grow wider and flatter with age, with fully grown segments measuring 1.5-3 inches (4-7 cm), and up to 1 inch (2.5 cm) wide. When fully grown, segments will arc toward the ground under their own weight.

Flowering: In late April and early May, this cactus will form stunning starburst shaped flowers in crimson hues. These large blooms are typically 3 inches (7.5 cm) across, with yellow stamen in the center. Flowers only bloom from areoles at the ends of mature segments. If fertilized, these flowers will produce oblong red fruit bearing seeds.

Immediately after flowering has finished, this cacti requires a one month resting period. During this month, restrict water to keep the soil moist only, and do not offer fertilizer. After the month, resume watering and fertilizing on a regular basis. Beginning in January, move the plant to a cool room: 50-65°F (10-18°C) during the day and 45-55°F (7-13°C) at night. Provide at least 14 hours of darkness daily by covering the plant with a box or keeping it in an interior closet. Continue until buds form.

Facts

Origin: Brazil.
Names: Easter or holiday cactus (common). Hatiora Gaertneri (botanical/scientific).
Max Growth (approx): Height 25 in/63 cm.
Poisionous for pets: Non-Toxic to cats and dogs.


Picture of Hatiora gaertneri cacti

Buds Appearing

Easter Cactus Buds Appeared

Easter Cactus Care

Temperature: Temperature: The tropical Hatiora gaertneri prefers spring, summer, and fall temperatures around 75-80°F (24-27°C). Winter temperatures should be between 45-6°5F (7-18°C) only.
Light: This tropical cacti likes bright partial light only. It should never be exposed to full sunlight or midday sunlight.
Watering: Soil should be kept constantly moist, but never soggy. Do not allow water to sit in the dish underneath.
Soil: Due to its natural growing environment being on rocks or trees, this cactus requires rough soil to grow well. A 1:1 mixture of potting soil to pumice, tree bark, or perlite is required. Pumice is preferred.
Fertilizer: The Easter cactus prefers fertilization every 14 days. Use a balanced 10-10-10 fertilizer, and dilute to half strength. Do not fertilize during resting period.
Re-Potting: Never re-pot during the bloom or following resting period. Re-pot by removing only the loose soil around the roots. Transfer immediately to a size larger pot and pack in with appropriate soil.
Humidity: Hatiora gaertneri requires a humid environment to survive. The plant should be misted with a sprayer daily, even during the rest period, to simulate the needed humidity.
Propagation: Any segment at least 3 inches long can be used for propagation. Allow the cutting to harden for at least 48 hours. Plant the small end of the segment in shallow, moist perlite. Rooting occurs between 3-4 weeks.

Potential Problems

  • The cactus will fail to flower the following year if it is watered regularly or fertilized in the 30 days following blooming.

  • Next year's blossoms will be smaller if the plant is permitted to waste energy developing fruits. Pinch off the withered flowers to prevent this.

  • Never disturb a blooming plant for any reason except to water it. Touching the flowers will cause them to fall off the plant.

  • Move the budding plant from the winter room to its usual light source immediately when buds are seen.

  • Over-watering will result in segments of the plant breaking off for no apparent reason. These segments can be re-potted for propagation.

  • Under-watering will cause the segments of the plant to collapse in toward the pot and start turning yellow. Increase watering over the course of the next few weeks to stop this. Too much water too quickly will shock the plant.


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