Easter Cactus Cuttings

Champaign, IL(Zone 5b)

My mom has an Easter Cactus(determined only because it has bloomed for the first time...this spring...we thought it was a Christmas cactus before...the blooms are salmon colored) that I have taken cuttings from. I have one put that I put in pieces that were 3-4 segments long and one pot that has only one piece segments. The one piece segments seem to be rotting(I've been pulling them out as they get mushy). The 3-4 piece segments don't seem to be rotting, but are still very limp, and I planted them almost two weeks ago. I let them callus over(about 18 hours) before I planted them. My question is, will they start perking up? I try not to water them too much, because I'm afraid they will rot...also, they're planted in regular potting soil...no cactus soil. Thanks for any help!

Kristie

( Kim) Zion, IL(Zone 5a)

Kristie
I have started some cactus but I have started them in water and they have gotten roots after a while I planted a couple of rooted and mixed them I had 3 different colors its pretty neat I don't know if this will help but I thought I give my 2 cents I just play aroud and see what happen and this is what came up The date is wrong I did it in 2005

Thumbnail by Dimmer
Ayrshire Scotland, United Kingdom

Hi Christy, you did right by letting them dry out at the tips before planting, Do you have them in a large pot or a small pot, I find it roots better in really small pots as larger pots = too much wet compost at the roots, also I am inclined to add some very small gravel or sand to the potting compost as it keeps the roots warm AND drier, I would try a different pot size and water the mix, but not again for a few days, in between just mist the leaves, you are always better with a few cuttings in the one pot as these plants in the store are several plants in the one pot to make them sellable sizes, sometimes on mine, when bits break off, I just make a hole with my finger and drop the bits in, always having the arched stem growing towards the outer edge of the pot like it is growing the way it should, Hope this helps you. Good Luck, Weenel.

Champaign, IL(Zone 5b)

Dimmer, that's so pretty! I've had my cuttings in the pot for about 2 weeks, do you think I should take some out and try rooting some in water?

WeeNel, the pot is fairly small, maybe a 4-5inch pot? I do have quite a few cuttings in it, so I could take some out and try to root in water. They're still alive, just very limp...

Thanks for the help guys!

Kristie

Mountlake Terrace, WA(Zone 8a)

Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving cacti are all part of the tribe of epiphytic cacti. Contrary to most cacti, they actually like water, and should be treated more like an African violet than dry land cacti.

They typically grow on the surfaces and in the niches they can find on jungle trees, much like the epiphytic orchids. They are succulent and have defenses against dessication as the rain which feeds them may have a dry period during their annual cycle.

Naturally they all bloom in the spring to summer, but they will force easily if given rest and a dark period. So they are forced for Christmas Easter and other holidays.

The somewhat shriveled limbs that have broken off will typically root after some time in moist potting soil. I root them like african violets, potted, in a zip lock bag to hold the moisture.

Fertilize them monthly during the spring and summer with a 1/2 to 1/4 strength fertilizer, and give them plenty of light, part-sun to full sun outdoors if you can. Move them out in to the full sun gradually, or they will bronze up. If they turn bronze, pull them into the shade some more.

In the Seattle area, May is the month where I trust its not too cold to set them outside (they should only go out when nights are above 45F). One bloomed almost immediately in May, two others are setting buds right now. They bloom at the end of the dry spell when temperatures warm up and water gets plentiful.

I am pretty rough on my plants giving them little to no water from about November to March. They wilt and look pretty dessicated, but none has ever suffered for it, and I have not lost one in many years. Its not what I would recommend, but they seem to get forgotten in our house during those months. During the summer, I water them as frequently as I do other plants outside, weekly or more often, soaking them through the pots.

Have fun! I love these plants, and if I could have a greenhouse, I would have many more.

Champaign, IL(Zone 5b)

So, should I put start trying to put my cuttings into sunlight, or wait until they perk up? Like I said, its been about two weeks since I've potted them up...how long before they should have roots and I can get them in the sun?

Thanks for the in depth info...very helpful!

Kristie

Medford, NJ

I have some cuttings rooting right now, and have had the same problems, especially with them rotting. I decided to try a different way I read about, plant the cuttings in DRY soil, and then mist them daily, enough to dampen the soil a little but not soak it. No more rotten cuttings!

As for them looking flabby and half dead, sometimes they just go thru different phases before the roots form, then they will firm up and look fine, could take a few weeks, and you will know you have succeeded when they start putting out new growth -

Ottawa, Canada

Hi Kristie,

There's a couple things to know about Holiday Cactus. First they are native to the State of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (which gives you another reason why you must go to Brazil). They are not desert cacti but rather "jungle" cacti, they grow in a moist environment in tree branches. Because they are in trees in a jungle, they are mostly shaded and therefore do NOT like direct sun-light.

There are two basic varieties, Schlumbergera and Rhipsalidopsis. Both varieties are subdivided. For your purposes, here's a simple breakdown

Schlumbergera
---------------------
Buckleyi - or commonly called Christmas Cactus
Truncata - or commonly called Thanksgiving Cactus (also Christmas Cactus)

Rhipsalidopsis
---------------------
Gaertneri - commonly called Easter (or Spring) Cactus
Rosea - commonly called Easter Rose (or Spring Rose) Cactus

The Schlumbergera varieties can flower twice or 3 times a year. The Rhipsalidopsis will only flower once in the spring (Northern Hemisphere - opposite in Southern). The flowering is caused by a combination of light/dark and temperature. If the plant does not get the conditions it needs, then it will not flower.

About propagation, some are easy, some are difficult. Here are some basics:
1. They tend to prefer a well drained but moist soil.
- a 60/40 mix of peat and orchid mix is good
- regular potting soil is not-so-good, the roots are sensitive to root-rot
- cactus soil is not-so-good because it tends to be too dry.

2. Try clipping only "Y" segments. That is, the base leaf has two or more leaf segments above it.
- completely bury the bottom segment, if you only see the top 1/2 of leaf segments sticking out of soil this is good.
- Misting is good but be careful, it is possible to under & over mist.
- the top segments will use the base segment as food until roots sprout.
- it can take from 1 to 3 weeks for propagation to occur

I have a number of pictures that I will post in separate messages, these will help you distinguish which type of plant you have.

For some nice examples of Christmas Cactus colours, I like this website:
http://www.saia.com.br/index2.php

Hope you have success with your plants,
Criança

This message was edited Aug 24, 2007 2:25 PM

This message was edited Aug 24, 2007 2:25 PM

Ottawa, Canada

Hi Kristie,

Here is an Easter Cactus.

Criança

Thumbnail by CriancaGorda
Ottawa, Canada

Diagram of Easter Cactus

Thumbnail by CriancaGorda
Ottawa, Canada

Easter Rose (Spring Rose) Cactus Image

Thumbnail by CriancaGorda
Ottawa, Canada

Easter Rose (Spring Rose) Cactus diagram

Thumbnail by CriancaGorda
Ottawa, Canada

Christmas Cactus Image

Thumbnail by CriancaGorda
Ottawa, Canada

Christmas Cactus diagram

Thumbnail by CriancaGorda
Ottawa, Canada

Thanksgiving Cactus Image

Note the difference between it and Christmas cactus. The flower on Thanksgiving cactus tends to be parallel to the ground/floor; whereas, the Christmas cactus tends to point to the floor.

This message was edited Aug 24, 2007 2:36 PM

Thumbnail by CriancaGorda
Ottawa, Canada

Thanksgiving Cactus diagram

Thumbnail by CriancaGorda
Champaign, IL(Zone 5b)

Crianca,
Thank you for all the pictures! From looking at them, I'm beginning to think I have a thanksgiving or christmas cactus. I say this because the leaves look smooth, whereas min has ridges; they look most like the Thanksgiving cactus, but I think when it bloomed at my mom's house they hung down instead of being parallel. Like I said, it bloomed in the spring, and they were salmon colored...This year was the first time that it bloomed for my mom, so maybe it was off a little bit?

Oh, and I've had some successful cuttings that have rooted. I had taken some forked cuttings, I was afraid that they wouldn't do as well, but they did actually do better!

Thank you so much for all the information! Maybe if I got ahold of a digital camera, I'll take a pic and maybe you can help me id for sure what it is. Thanks again!

Kristie

Medford, NJ

The Thanksgiving cactus has the segments with the little points - Christmas cactus segments have no points. The ones most commonly seen for sale are the Thanksgiving cacti.

Here is a foliage pic of Thanksgiving cacti- Schlumbergera truncata

Thumbnail by Bhavana34
Medford, NJ

foliage pic of cuttings of Christmas cactus - Schlum. Buckleyi
(notice it still has bumpy edges, but no points)

Thumbnail by Bhavana34
Medford, NJ

more cutting pics of Christmas (buckleyi)

Thumbnail by Bhavana34
Medford, NJ

Easter cactus (rhipsalis) - this one has much smoother edges on its segments than the xmas and thanksgiving

This message was edited Aug 25, 2007 7:05 PM

Thumbnail by Bhavana34
Medford, NJ

I also have the Easter "Rosea" which I believe is a hatiora, but wouldn't you know my batteries just died on the last picture? That is one thing I hate about digital cameras, they use alot of battery power up in a very short time. Anyway, the Rosea is the cutest little plant, I haven't had mine bloom yet, but it looks like a teeny version of the Easter cactus.

Hope my pictures helped a little, I still get confused sometimes with the foliage of Easter and Christmas! Easter cactus segments also sometimes have little bristles around the edges - but not always.

Medford, NJ

Here is the Rosea, I put it next to some pencils so you can get an idea of how petite it is, I have been growing it from a 3 piece segment someone sent me last year, mostly under artificial lights. I just started a new shoot directly behind it, you can't really see it in this picture. Can't wait to see flowers on this one....the thing is, I can get the thanksgiving and xmas cacti to bloom, but the Easter varieties need a cold period during the time that they would freeze to death if I put them outdoors. Does anyone have any suggestions on how they get theirs to bloom?

This message was edited Aug 26, 2007 10:28 AM

Thumbnail by Bhavana34
Champaign, IL(Zone 5b)

Thanks for all the pictures! They did help. I'm now positive I have a thanksgiving cactus, it has the points on it. My mom's just bloomed this year and it has salmon colored flowers. Now it will be interesting to find out exactly which one I have....thank you so much for the pics!

Kristie

(Zone 1)

I have a couple that I've always called Christmas Cactus cause I bought them during the holidays years ago. But, they do sometimes bloom at other times of the year too!

Ottawa, Canada

Hi Kristie,

I would go with your gut feeling on this one. You probably have a Schlumbergera truncata (or Thanksgiving Cactus).

I have two Schlumbergera truncata and two Rhipsalidopsis gaertneri. For me, both Schlumbergera flower only in December, however, my mom has clippings from both plants and hers flower in December and again in May (albeit, fewer flowers in May).

Rule of thumb, plants are stationary. This means they can get grumpy if they are relocated. However, with that said, one of my Schlumbergera's can be picked up and moved from room to room, upstairs-downstairs, spun around, hung upside down and tossed around like a football and it will still produce flowers. The other Schlumbergera, I swear if I so much as move it an inch it won't flower for two years. When your mom got her plant it probably didn't like the move from the store to home. Store bought flowers have very controlled living conditions which are probably different from your mom's house. My guess is your mom's plant was adjusting to the new living conditions. The other possible reason for it not flowering in the winter is that she keeps the house too hot at night.

Flowering is triggered by the following, shorter days (light) and cooler temperatures at night (10 - 15 Celsius at night 20-25 in the day). If your mom wants the plant to flower at Christmas, make sure the thermostat is turned down at night when she goes to bed. :)

Sadly, my Easter cacti have been infected by an insect and are suffering greatly. I am jealous of the person who as the Easter Rose - I have not gone to the nursery at the correct time of year to purchase one of them but do hope to find one.

Champaign, IL(Zone 5b)

Thanks for the info! I had rooted my cuttings outside and have them outside still. They were in a shaded area, but I've moved them to a place where they get a few hours of slightly direct sunlight(on my front porch, facing south). I thought I had read they can handle direct sunlight if you slowly introduce them to it, I thought it would help it bloom. They've been doing ok, but should I move them? Also, should I be keeping it inside so it will stay cooler? I just googled them and read an article that said that they can be fussy and prefer being inside and not to be moved a lot. I'm afraid I've confused myself now :o. Oh, and how long after taking cuttings can you expect it to flower? Will it flower in the first year or not?
Thanks!

Kristie

Medford, NJ

Sometimes cuttings will flower right away, I have seen it first hand...

As for their likes and dislikes, I have always heard that if you want them to bloom, then outside they should go in mid to late spring, into a shady but bright location (NO direct sun) and that there they should stay until just before the first frost - the shorter early fall days and the coolness are what set the buds. After that, you can move them indoors and I would think gentle morning sun wouldn't hurt.

Now, there are exceptions to every rule - I had one bloom on me once that never went outside. I have also seen them bloom in the spring, again once on a plant that never went outside. As for not liking to be moved, I can't say, I move my plants all the time. Some years they flower better than others, some years one of them won't flower at all....so who knows?? Is it because at some point I moved that particular plant? Over watered? Under watered? Gave it a dirty look? All I know is that my mama told me what to do to get them to bloom, and since then, that is what I have been doing and have had pretty good success. At other times of the year my plants might get some direct sun, but not too much if I can avoid it, they get all washed out and faded looking in too much light.

Champaign, IL(Zone 5b)

Thanks! I will go move the one I have in partial light....I have a great spot outside that is fully shaded but gets bright indirect light. I've been told you have to take them outside to get them to bloom as well. Do you feed yours, if so how often? Every two weeks during the growing season, none during the winter? Just when you thought you had answered all my questions.... ;)

Kristie

Medford, NJ

During the growing season I feed with a weak solution of the homemade beer fertilizer at every watering, after the mid fall I don't feed at all, and start up again in the spring.

Champaign, IL(Zone 5b)

Ok, thanks! I think you've answered all my burning questions for now!

Kristie

Ottawa, Canada

On the question of whether to move a plant or not, I take this approach. Does any tree or plant in nature pick itself up and move 5, 10, or 15 feet in any direction because it wants more or less sunlight? The answer is no, plants are strange that way, they like to be firmly "planted" in one spot and that's why they grow roots and attach themselves specifically for the purpose of not moving. It is unnatural for a plant to relocate, so keep that in mind.

The trick to getting the plants to flower is not in keeping them inside or out, but rather on knowing the plant species and the natural triggers it uses in nature to produce flowers. If you can duplicate the plants natural environment, then your plant should produce flowers.

For holiday cactus, the natural triggers are the amount of light and temperature. Specifically, the flowering mechanism is controlled when the plant detects shorter days/longer nights, and cooler temperatures. If you want to achieve this by putting the plant outside, that is fine. If you can achieve this without putting the plant outside that is also fine.

For me, controlling the environment inside the house is easy enough as I like to to reduce the temperature when I sleep, and I don't put my cactus under a lamp so when the sun goes down it doesn't get extra light and therefore I don't have to put my plants outside. They flower abundantly without being moved in and out. If you keep your house warm in the day and at night, and have the lights on well into the night, then yes by all means, putting them outside is probably what they will need.

One thing to keep in mind is that putting your plants outside means that they can be exposed to undesirable pests such as insects. On the other hand, you can do like I did, and purchase an Easter cactus from a less reputable retailer and introduce an insect that way. :-)

When you have a plant inside your house, remember that you have removed it from it's natural habitat. Therefore, take a look at it, if it's healthy and produces flowers when it should, and does so abundantly. Then leave it where it is.

On the other hand, if it's been there for two years and doesn't grow much, and never flowers, then look at the environment and ask yourself, does it get enough or too much light, water, or temperature? Is there a spot in your house where the conditions would better match the natural settings for the plant? If so, then try out that spot for a few months and if the plant is doing better, then leave it. If it's not, then examine the conditions again. Remember the plant flowered once so you're pretty compatible with the plant and should be able to get it to flower again.

Best of luck.

Roanoke, VA(Zone 7a)

I have been having trouble finding a Schlumbergera Buckleyi. Can anyone give me any suggestions?


Thanks

Ayrshire Scotland, United Kingdom

I have grown these plants called Christmas Cacti for years and have pots of them now due to bits falling off them when passing by or re potting them, this year due to the mixture of weather we have had here in UK, they have flowered 3 times, but they dont like being moved while there are flower buds showing, these just start to drop off and unfortunately, they dont send out new flowers to replace them like other plants, until the cuttings have rooted, I would keep them on the dryer side in a mix of sand/fine gravel etc till they have rooted, they do require a lot more water than other so called cacti, but they dont like the soil to be constantly wet or the plant at soil level rots off, sometimes after rooting, the plant sends out new leaf and no flowers, this is also OK as you want the pot to have plenty of that to get a later show of many flowers, after flowering indoors in winter, I remove all the flowers from them, once summer comes, I pop the plants outside for a month or so to help toughen up the main leaves, then when it comes back inside, I give them dappled sunlight, I also start to feed them a liquid feed every couple of weeks soon as I see new growth form, but stop when they are in flower, plenty of water but in a well drained soil is best.
IF I am in a hurry for cuttings, I brake off about 8 to 10 bits of different lengths of stems, cut away a small piece of the leaf at the bottom of the cutting into a V shape and make the lowest point of the V at the hard vein on the lowest leaf, leave them to dry off for a day or 2, then insert them close together into a pot till they have rooted, then pot them into a slightly larger pot and grow them on for a year, the cuttings dont like being on their own in a single pot, so put a good few in together for company, too cool temp will shock them and cause the soil to get too cold causing rot at soil level. I would have thought your zone was a bit too cold for cuttings and leaving these plants outdoors autumn/winter, frost can kill them overnight. You have had such conflicting info, I hope you find the best way for yourself as in all the different areas, I am sure they will all work, so just find the best way for you. Good luck. WeeNel.

Concord, NC(Zone 7b)

I have an easter rose cactus that got burned from being outside in the sun one day. It has continued to grow and bloom, however, the burned leaves which are the ones closest to the soil and some others upward, look really brown, dried, and have a loose skin which looks crusty and peeling. Is there anything I can do to restore it to its former beauty with the beautiful crimson edges on the scalloped leaves? It was so beautiful, and at the time I was ignorant about the damage of the direct sun. It is probably about 12 years old.

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