Rhipsalidopsis are commonly known as Easter Cacti or Spring Cacti as they typically flower during April and May. Often confused with Christmas Cacti or Schlumbergera, they are, in fact, similar in appearance but have very different flowers. The flowers of the Rhipsalidopsis are star-shaped, open very flat, and occur in very saturated colors. Rhipsalidopsis are epiphytic cacti, and are considered to be in the same Tribe of cacti that includes Epiphyllums, Rhipsalis, Schlumbergera (Christmas Cacti) and many other epiphytic cacti. In general, most Rhipsalidopsis on today’s market are hybrids between two species; Rhipsalidopsis gaertneri (reddish-orange flowers)and Rhipsalidopsis rosea (profuse orchid-colored flowers).

These plants are easily grown, even as houseplants, but to grow Rhipsalidopsis well, it is essential to understand the original habitat. These epiphytic cacti are native to rainforests on the coast of Brazil. In this humid jungle area, these plants hang from tall trees or cliffs. The climate is refreshing, and inhabitants never experience extreme heat nor do they experience frosts. The light is filtered, dappling through the canopy of the trees. As epiphytes, these plants receive perfect drainage, and even though the wet season may bring daily rains, the water runs off rapidly and the plants are never waterlogged.

To emulate these conditions in our situation, the soil should be very porous, lightweight and slightly acidic. Slightly acidity can be provided by addition of peat moss or leaf mold. Plants must have good air circulation. Water thoroughly when soil becomes dry to the touch, but make sure water drains away rapidly. Soils that do not drain well and remain sodden for days or weeks will smother the root systems and encourage certain root diseases. Rhipsalidopsis thrive in temperatures between 70 and 80°F. Plants are happiest when night temperatures are between 55 and 65°F. Excellent as a hanging basket indoors in bright, airy spot or on a sheltered patio in temperate areas. Makes a great Easter centerpiece.

by Renee O’Connell
Originally published in Garden Compass magazine

Used with permission.