The rhipsalidopsis or Easter cactus is a cactus native to Brazil that is particularly widespread in our interiors. Its drooping stems are made up of rectangular-shaped segments that are linked to each other. These segments have a very thin covering of petals, and when the plant blooms, they are yellow in color.
In nature, this cactus is an epiphyte: it lives on another plant without parasitizing it. Unlike other cacti, rhipsalidopsis need a substrate containing only potting soil, watered weekly and provided with fertilizer during the growth period, from March to September. During winter months or when the temperature falls below 10 °C (50 °F), the cacti must be kept dry and in a cool place away from direct heat sources such as radiators or heaters
Easter cacti can produce a profusion of red flowers. The trick to obtaining abundant blooms: put the plant to rest in a darker room and at a lower temperature during autumn and winter, reducing watering for a short period.
As soon as the buds begin to form, place the plant back in the heat and in full light, avoiding however the midday sun.
The great danger: is the fall of the flower buds which fall easily. It will therefore be necessary to avoid handling the plant and subjecting it to strong temperature variations. Beware of cold drafts that can cool the room.
Reasons Why Flowering Does Not Occur
Flowering begins from April to May. If this did not happen, errors in care were made.
The most common reasons for the lack of flowering :
- The air temperature in the room is too low. The easter cactus need a minimum temperature of 15°C, or 60°F to flower. The ideal temperature is around 20°C or 68°F.
- Late transplant: The young Easter cactus should be transplanted every year to keep it healthy. The most common reasons for its lack of flowering are late transplanting, insufficient sunlight, and lack of fertilization.
Adult plants need a transplant once every three years, or you can simply sprinkle the earth around their roots and water them well for several days before transplanting them. Do not forget that they need plenty of light and ventilation during the warm season to develop good rooting systems.
- Overflow of water: You need to make sure that the water does not stagnate in the pan. Spray the flower daily.
- Nutrient deficiencies: Although moisture and light are essential for your Easter cactus to grow and flower, proper nutrition is also necessary for healthy growth. The most common reason for lack of flowering in Easter cacti is a nutrient deficiency due to improper fertilization. It is better to choose fertilizers rich in phosphorus or potassium. They stimulate the emergence of buds. A large amount of nitrogen in fertilizers inhibits the laying of buds.
How to Make a Cactus Form Buds?
To stimulate the appearance of buds, a temperature difference should be made. It must be reduced to four degrees. To do this, special devices that can be purchased at flower shops will help.
Many beginners find that the ideal conditions created for the plant do not give the desired result. The reason may be that the cactus directed all its forces into growth and stopped throwing out buds. You can speed up flowering by moving the plant to a cooler place or reducing watering.
Easter cactus bloom
The Easter cactus (Rhipsalidopsis or Hathiora) have similar features to the Decembrist (or another name for Schlumberger), except that the Easter cactus has radially symmetrical flowers that open wider.
Easter cactus blooms with flowers of different shades – yellow, pink, peach, red, and white.
The requirements for the beginning of flowering for the Easter cactus are different from the Decembrist.
The flowering of the Easter cactus is stimulated by a period of cool temperature with naturally short daylight hours in winter, followed by a period of moderate temperature and long daylight hours.
“Plants for which such conditions are created in greenhouses bloom in March and April.”
However, getting the plant to flower earlier (January-February) can be a challenge for gardeners.
Scientists have conducted numerous studies to understand the requirements of the Easter cactus for flowering.
This article summarizes all the research results and explains how you can stimulate the plant to bloom by a certain date at any time of the year.
The adult flat leaf segments of the Cactus (or Cladodia) are removed from the parent plant. After being removed from the mother plant, the cuttings can be planted right away or stored for several months at +11 +14 deg C.
The mother plant can be treated with a broad-spectrum fungicide like iprodione, chlorthalonil to reduce storage losses and propagation losses.
If the shoots are allowed to harden before planting, it reduces the time needed for rooting.
You can either plant the shoots on pallets or in a container. Each pallet is 10 cm in diameter
A pot can hold up to four shoots. You will have a stronger and more beautiful plant if you grow more than one cutting in a tray or pot.
For the shoot to root successfully, it is important to use well-drained soil. Poor rooting and rot can be caused by overwatering during the breeding process.
The shoots begin to grow and blossom when they take root. The first flower or flat leaf must be removed to encourage beautiful plant shapes. This will not cause any harm to the plant.
Once the first flat leaf segment has fully formed, you can transplant the plant to a pot.
Feeding and watering
The Easter cactus has a standard nutritional requirement. A liquid nitrogen fertilizer of between 125 and 200 ppm is required for the plant.
Allow the soil to dry between waterings, especially if you are starting flowering.
To avoid the accumulation and toxicity of trace elements like iron and manganese (which are evident by dead and chlorotic edges on leaf segments), it is important to maintain the soil pH at 6.0.
To delay vegetative growth and encourage flowering, it is recommended that you stop fertilizing the plant 2-4 weeks before flowering.
After a cooling period, top dressing can be resumed.
There are a few key requirements for keeping an Easter cactus healthy. They need bright light, higher temperatures, and more water than most other cactus species.
Easter cactus can grow in very high light levels. It is important to maintain a high level of light intensity, ranging from 4,000 to 5,000 feet of candles.
Leaf segments can become yellowed if they are exposed to light at higher temperatures than 5,000 feet. Reduce the light intensity to 1,500 feet candles if you notice yellowing in the leaf segments.
For long-term lighting, photoperiodic lighting is recommended at least 10 feet. However, supplementary lighting with a high-pressure sodium lamp (450 feet) can promote plant growth and vitality, especially in areas where natural light is limited.
Additional lighting can be used before and during the flowering period.
Plants can still grow before the cool period at 18-22°C.
Keep the temperature at 17-22 degrees Celsius after the cooling period.
Bud drop can be caused by hotter temperatures. However, plants can grow faster at higher temperatures so it is important to adjust the temperature accordingly.
Plants can grow twisted, curved, or bizarre. Plant stems may be overly elongated.
In such cases, it is necessary to give shape to the plant.
To this end, the leaf segment must be rotated 180 degrees, and then sharply torn off from the mother plant.
It is very important not to damage the edge of the mother plant – as from this place there will be a growth of new leaf segments or flower buds.
The time period for such a procedure depends on the ambient temperature. After that, new leaf segments are formed on the plant, they should almost completely grow before induction begins.
Flowers will appear on new leaf segments. Depending on the shape of the plant and the size of the pot, the plant should be trimmed so that 2-4 tiers of adult leaf segments remain on it after trimming.
Stimulation of the Beginning of Flowering
Flowering is stimulated by alternating a short period of cool temperature followed by a long period of moderate temperature.
The optimum temperature for the “cold” period is + 8 + 13 ° С. If this temperature is difficult to maintain due to high levels of light, additional shade can be provided to reduce the heat input from the sun.
Studies have shown that plants can be cooled for a short time even in a refrigerator if it is not possible to create the required temperature in the greenhouse.
If it is not possible to keep the night temperature below +13°C, as an experiment, you can cool the plant for 4-6 weeks in a dark refrigerator.
The period of cool temperature is replaced by a long light period, which is necessary for the production of buds.
It is recommended to slowly increase the temperature by a few degrees to avoid dropping the buds.
In order for the plant to flower in March or later, it is necessary to stimulate flowering for at least 6-8 weeks of the “cold” period under natural daylight hours, and then give the plant long daylight hours at a warm temperature.
When creating long daylight hours, consider that the plant needs 14 hours of light.
In order for the plant to bloom in March and April, it first needs 6 weeks of short daylight hours artificially created for the plant (10 hours or less), before a period with a cool temperature.
Additional lighting with short daylight hours will increase the number of buds.
Unlike the Decembrist, to increase the number of buds, the Easter cactus is not treated with the chemical benzyladenine (BA). But in reality, when using VA, 12 days after the start of stimulation, the number of buds increases.
The exact timing of the application is essential. Easter cactus flowers are less susceptible to ethylene compared to Decembrist flowers.
Stimulating the flowering of the Easter cactus takes a lot of time. But when creating ideal growth conditions (i.e. suitable temperature, daylight hours, “cold” periods for each phase), this plant will delight with unique and desirable flowers in late winter – early spring.