All About the Easter Cactus

Decorate for the season with this holiday houseplant.

Easter is right around the corner, which means it's time to gather spring blooms for festive arrangements, bouquets, and centerpieces. Lenten roses, Easter lilies, azaleas, tulips, and other pretty pastel flowers are probably the first come to mind. Succulents aren't a typical choice, but this holiday houseplant shouldn't be overlooked—the Easter cactus (Hatiora gaertneri). It's a relative of popular Thanksgiving and Christmas cacti. A perk of this easy-to-care-for pick? It can be kept alive all year long, going dormant in winter and sprouting its vibrant star-like blooms again in spring.

The Easter cactus is a Brazilian native. It thrives in the humid climate of the Tropical South; everywhere it should be grown as a houseplant. It's an epiphytic cactus, meaning it should be kept damp and cool to mimic the conditions of its original rainforest home. It has flat and jointed succulent leaf segments that grow 2 or 3 inches long, with hair-like bristles surrounding the edges. The Easter cactus produces showy, star-shaped flowers in pink, orange, red, and white hues. It blooms in spring and then again in late summer and early fall.

Give this houseplant some TLC, and it'll stay alive throughout the year. Place an Easter cactus in a cool, bright spot that gets partial shade during the day, with temps around 65 to 75 degrees. It requires cooler temperatures at night, lowering to 55 to 65 degrees. Bring the houseplant outdoors when temperatures start warming up in the spring, placing it a spot that gets partial shade and indirect sunlight. Take it back inside when the weather get chilly in fall. Avoid placing an Easter cactus in direct hot sun, or else the color will fade or the plant will get sunburned. (Remember, you're trying to mimic rainforest-like conditions, where these cacti grew at the bases of tall, shady trees.) Plant in moist, well-drained soil. Water regularly. Let houseplants drain in the sink before placing back in their spot. Overwatering will cause wilting and root rot.

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