Don't Throw Out That Easter Cactus!

Okay, so Easter is over and that pretty houseplant your co-worker gave you has lost its flowers. Now what? Even though Easter cactus is at its best while blooming, it also makes a great low maintenance houseplant all year long! I'm going to show you what to do with your Easter cactus now that it's done blooming, how to take cuttings, and how to get even more blooms next year!


My Easter Cactus Stopped Blooming

Well, of course it did. In the rainforest, Easter cacti (Rhipsalidopsis spp.) put all of their energy into a single display of dazzling flowers to attract pollinators like hummingbirds. After that excessive workout your cactus is ready for a break. It might be hard, but do not water or feed your plant for about a month. A little water is fine during that period if the leaves start to shrivel, but if you want lots of flowers next year, lay off on the water. Remove the seedpods at the bases of the shriveled flowers so energy isn't wasted developing fruits that the cactus has no use for.





My Easter Cactus is Falling Apart

Many times, Easter cacti will terrify their owners by falling to pieces at the joints and collapsing, leaving their segments all over the place. Do not panic. This sometimes happens when plants are stressed from overwatering or underwatering and these segments or pads can easily be rooted and grown into new plants! The specimen mounted on my centerpiece started out as only three individual pads from a collapsed plant. I rooted the segments by inserting in potting soil, and in a couple years I had blooms all over again!


How Do I Repot My Easter Cactus?

Even though your Easter cactus was potted by the grower in soggy peat moss, keep in mind that these cacti's roots like room to breathe since they're epiphytes and naturally grow in trees. I've had the most success mounting them like orchids, but any mix suitable for bromeliads and orchids would work. If you're concerned about not watering it enough, simply add some potting mix to retain more moisture.


Can I Take Easter Cactus Cuttings? 

Definitely! Rooting Easter cactus stems is incredibly easy and rewarding, even for those new to gardening. I once threw the trimmed stems in the garden and found that they rooted on their own! To root Easter cactus, simply take cuttings one to four segments long, allow the cut ends to dry for a day or two, apply rooting hormone to the cut stems and insert in potting soil, watering regularly until established. Though rooting hormone isn't necessary, I once did an experiment with one container rooted with hormone, and one without. As you would guess, the cuttings with rooting hormone showed new growth much sooner, a few weeks ahead of its neighbor.

How Do I Get Easter Cactus to Rebloom?

To get your Easter cactus to bloom again, give it cooler temperatures in winter and reduce watering after they bloom. Easter cacti can really tolerate temperatures down to freezing (not below freezing) but 50F is usually sufficient. If you would like even more blooms, try trimming off the last segments, just above the joint. This encourages the plant to form multiple new stems that will form next year's flowers, and it also removes those useless fruits that I mentioned earlier. So remember: cooler temps in winter, less water after blooming, and tip prune after blooming.

If you'd like to learn about combining Easter cactus and other houseplants to make beautiful long lasting indoor arrangements, be sure to look at my book Plant by Numbers!

Here are some more fun projects:

How to Make a Rainforest Drop!
Tropical Vertical Garden
Tillandsias for Decor
Beachcombing for Gardeners
Container Garden Ideas
.

9 comments:

  1. Easter cactus has proven to be the most hardy of all the holiday cacti outdoors for me. It has taken all that a borderline 8b/9a can throw at it and done well with little more than heavy oak cover. If you live in zone 9a south in Florida you should try mounting a piece in a tree!

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  2. Great advice! Of all the succulents I have this is not one of them. My Mom used to grow the most big and beautiful 'Christmas cactus' you've ever seen. This was when I was a kid. Wish I had a cutting now.

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  3. Great advice! I will try your houseplant advice, so pretty this houseplant pictures..
    Thanks for sharing.. Flowering Trees Tennessee

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  4. Timely and informative, Steve! Love the idea to use the Easter Cactus in a Rainforest Drop!!

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  5. m.krishna:
    That's the best news I've heard all year! I've actually left some cuttings of rhipsalis and Christmas cactus in the garden and had no damage over the last winter, but I'm really glad to see that you've confirmed what I thought was just wishful thinking on the Easter cactus. I am DEFINITELY planting it outdoors now! :)

    Candy:
    I was surprised to have a difficult time finding them in stores this year. I was only able to find them at Food Lion, and I had to pay full price even though it had finished flowering. :(

    Kimberly:
    Wouldn't it be cool to have a rainforest drop with Christmas AND Easter cactus?

    lisbonlioness:
    I visited your blog and you're hilarious! That is all.

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  6. Watch out for the squirrels though, I had one that had gotten rather large in an oak and they decided they were tired of it so they ripped it to pieces and threw it out of the tree! At least I can start over with the pieces...

    -Krishna

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  7. Beware outside---rabbits (squirrels love to nibble on em! Almost lost them on a low table the rabbits could reach---moved em higher---all ok!

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  8. thank you for your information . I am now confident that I will be able to look after my plant it looks fabulous at the moment.

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