The Easter Cactus

“…with all the frills upon it…”

by Terri Donsker

Today’s question: What, exactly, is “Easter Cactus”?

Easter CactusIt is blooming now, in April, at Easter time (hence the name).  Its flowers are red, pink or white, depending on the hybrid. This cactus has no spines and drapes easily over a hanging basket or decorative pot.

“Hatiora gaertneri is a species of epiphytic cactus which belongs to the tribe Rhipsalideae within the subfamily Cactoideae of the Cactaceae. Together with the hybrid with H. rosea, Hatiora ×graeseri, it is known as Easter Cactus or Whitsun Cactus and is a widely cultivated ornamental plant.” (Wikipedia)

You will notice that the flowers have a different petal formation than the other well-known epiphytic cactus: Schlumbergia, or “Christmas Cactus”. The stems also have a different configuration: more like a chain of flattened  segments, one after the other;  and the segments do not have the pointed “horns” of the Christmas Cactus.  ‘These segments are the photosynthetic organs of the plant. Flowers form from areoles at the ends of the stems.’* A native of Southeastern Brazil, H.gaertneri is found at altitudes between 1300 and 4300 feet.

Pink Easter CactusHatiora is a bit harder to keep than Schlumbergia—not as forgiving where watering is concerned. Do not let it dry out completely. Half-shade is preferred.  The fancy-dress flowers in the dazzling colors of Spring make Hatiora well worth the extra care and winter’s long wait. For more information, log onto: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Easter_Cactus

Pink Easter Cactus 2

Easter Cactus 4

Easter Cactus 3

Credits:

Images  2, 4 :  happamisaki.jp-o.net
Images 1, 3, 5: Flickr – Photo Sharing
Text information: Wikipedia

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