How to Grow and Care for an Easter Cactus So It Blooms Every Year

Updated: Dec. 04, 2023

Learn how to grow and care for an Easter cactus, and you will be rewarded every spring. The funky looking Brazilian native is super simple to grow and propagate.

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At certain times of the year, favored plants like lilies and hydrangeas entice us in garden centers. In the springtime, it might just be the small but charming flowering cactus that melts our hearts with blooms for its namesake holiday. An Easter cactus is relatively simple to grow and care for. As a bonus, you’ll get holiday decor for years to come.

In the shifting taxonomy of plants, the Easter cactus may be referred to as Rhipsalidopsis gaertneri, Schlumbergera or Hatiora gaertneri. It is a spring flowering plant that buds as days begin to lengthen. At first glance, it may seem identical to a Christmas cactus, but they are distinct.

Both the Easter and Christmas cacti originated in Brazil and are members of the cactus family. They also share leaflike flat arms distinguished by segments similar to a chain. To distinguish a Christmas cactus, look for a more tear-shaped structure and tubular flowers. An Easter cactus has a more rounded leaf shape with starlike flowers. In nature, they bloom seasonally. With some help at home, holiday plants can be manipulated to showcase throughout their respective holidays.

Easter Cactus Care

Light requirements

The Easter cactus prefers bright light but not direct sun, or its paddles can burn. They’re best kept away from air vents and radiators. Daytime temperatures should be around 70°F, but keep them cooler at night, especially if forcing them to rebloom.


In its native environment, the Easter cactus is an epiphyte or plant that gets its nutrients and water from where it sits, often on another plant. It shares that quality with orchids.

In a house, it grows easily in soil, but remembering its heritage can be a useful watering reminder. First, make sure it has good drainage. Water should flow easily out of the bottom of the pot; draining thoroughly will prevent root rot. Allow the cactus soil to dry between waterings. Some guidelines suggest a good solid drying month after flowering is complete.


At least 1 to 2 months after the Easter cactus has finished blooming, start to fertilize it monthly. Look for the number 10-10-10 on the fertilizer container and follow the directions. That’s considered a balanced fertilizer with equal amounts of nitrogren, phosphorous and potassium. Stop fertilizer when preparing to force flower buds.


Easter cactus roots like a tight home and can remain in the same pot for years. If the roots start to grow through the bottom, it is possible to remove the plant and some potting mix from its container, add new planting medium and place in the same pot. If truly root bound, pick a slightly larger pot for an upgrade. Combine 60 to 80% potting mix with 40 to 20% perlite—drainage is key. Avoid repotting when in bloom.


The easiest way to make a new Easter cactus is by propagation from the mother plant. Twist or cut at least a 3-inch segment from the plant long after it has stopped flowering. You’re looking to include a few nodules. Let it dry for two or three days to harden the end. Bury the base of the cutting in damp potting mix, and cover with a clear plastic bag. You can secure the bag around the container with a rubber band.

Set the mini greenhouse in bright, indirect light. Roots will take at least three weeks to set and sometimes several weeks longer. That’s when you can remove the plastic, repot if desired and start a watering schedule.


Typically, an Easter cactus would bloom in late winter to early spring. You can try to prompt the bud setting, but forcing it to bloom on schedule can be tricky. Start at least two months before you’d like to see flowers, and know it may take longer. Stop fertilizing and reduce the watering schedule. At night, put the plant in a completely dark spot with temperatures around 50° for 12 hours. By day, move it to a warmer area with bright indirect light. Once it sets buds, leave it in the light to flower.

Common Easter Cactus Problems

Operator error causes most challenges for the Easter cactus. With trial, error and immediacy, plant issues can be rectified.

  • Too much water causes root rot and limp arms. You might need to remove the plant from its potting medium, trim the rotten roots and set in new mix.
  • Too much sun may cause greens to blush. Bright, filtered light is best.
  • Wrinkled arms may be due to under-watering. Make sure the potting medium is absorbing the water. Try a little at a time if it’s crusted on top.
  • Bud drop after the plant is moved to its light-filled location could be caused by airflow, incorrect light, too much or too little water.

Where to Buy an Easter Cactus

Easter cacti are readily available for online shoppers. Remember, the name has changed a couple of times, and some are still used interchangeably. Mislabeling also occurs so search for spring cactus, Easter cactus or spring blooming cactus when shopping. Check out its paddles for a rounded form (compared to the spikier cactus sold during other holidays) as well as the rounded forms on the arms. Here are a few options:

For fans of the easy-care Easter cactus looking to expand their plant collection, try succulents inside or outside. They’re among the many fabulous and forgiving houseplants that give more than they receive. Or, pick up an Easter lily (you can even get them online) for another spring holiday plant.