How to care for an Easter cactus plant

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The Easter cactus plant (Rhipsalidopsis gaertneri) is a close relative of other tropical cacti such as the Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera bridgesii) and the Thanksgiving cactus (Schlumbergera truncata). Collectively, these cacti are referred to as holiday cacti, since each species tends to bloom near a major bank holiday. Easter cacti bloom in the spring and continue to bloom periodically throughout the growing year when properly cared for. Native to the tropical mountains of South America, Easter cacti have very different cultural requirements than desert cacti.

Prepare a well-drained, rich planting soil for Easter cactus plants by mixing in 1 part organic compost with 1 part perlite potting soil. Easter cacti are epiphytic and grow in small pockets of organic debris high in the forest canopy and a fast-draining, nutrient rich potting soil is essential to grow healthy plants.

Plant Easter cacti in a container that is slightly larger than the root ball of the plant. Easter cacti grow best when their roots are slightly cramped.

Locate Easter cacti in a bright location with filtered sunlight.

Water the plants regularly when the flowers are in bloom, allowing the soil to dry out between each watering. During winter, water the plants sparingly. They do not require much water when dormant and may develop fatal root problems when over-watered.

Place the plants in a cool location -- between 10 and 15.6 degrees Celsius (50 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit) -- for at least two months over winter to spur healthy inflorescence in spring. Once buds have developed on the plant, move them to an area where the average temperature is above 21 degrees Celcius (70 degrees Fahrenheit) to facilitate a concentrated bloom of colourful flowers.

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