May 30, 2011
1. Cactus and Succulent
Comparison to Zygo Cactus, Rhipsalidopsis gaertneri, Sunrise Cactus
The name of Sunrise cactus comes from the fact that the flowers will start to burst open in the morning when the sun rises and will close again when the sun goes down. So if you keep the plant indoor when it is flowering and it is too dark, the flowers will never open. This flowering jungle cactus is also called Easter cactus, Spring cactus and it’s botanic name is Rhipsalidopsis gaertneri.
Sunrise cactus is a distant cousin of Zygo cactus (Schlumbergera truncata, Crab Claw cactus). The easiest way to tell the difference between the two is by looking at the stems and the flowers. Sunrise cactus stems are rounder in shape while Zygo cactus stems look a little bit like crab claws. If you look at the pictures of the two different stems, the left one with rounder stems are Sunrise cactus and the right one is Zygo cactus. Sunrise cactus flowers are star shaped and only open during the day, while Zygocactus flowers are irregular tubular in shape and keep on open during the night. The pictures of two different flowers, left is Sunrise cactus and right picture is Zygo cactus.
Both these jungle epiphytic cacti are native to mainly the rainforest of Brazil, so they both need very similar growing requirements. I have them, but from my very own experience, Sunrise cactus is harder to grow compared to Zygo cactus. Sunrise cactus is more sensitive to sudden changes of location. For example if your Sunrise cactus is already happy and thriving in one location, it may not so if you move it to other place. All of sudden the stems will all droopy in the new place. I don’t really know why, but maybe in the new place the amount of light and humidity is not exactly the same.
This time of the year, it is the end of autumn here in Australia, and my Sunrise cacti have plenty of ripe fruits. I have already picked them and later I will try to grow them. I know it will be easier to transplant few stems, but I am curious to try growing them from seeds.
- Sunrise Cactus, Rhipsalidopsis gaertneri, Easter Cactus, Spring Cactus
- Flowering time: Spring
- Pot, Containers or hanging basket only
- Best temperature 10 – 34 deg Celsius (50-75 deg F)
- Need high humidity
- Indirect sunlight
- Growing media: cactus mix (but I use 1 part of orchid barks and 1 part of potting mix)
- Tap water is better as rain water can be too acidic. Avoid using water that is too cold.
- Need longer cold dark nights during the winter time for the plant to flower well.
- Propagation by transplanting stem cuttings or by using seeds.
November 6, 2009
1. Cactus and Succulent
Colourful flowers, Epiphyllum, Gardening, Jungle Cacti, Rhipsalidopsis gaertneri, Zygocactus
Most cactus plants originally grow in sandy desert, but the moist and humid forests in South America have their very own species. Most of them, in natural environment live as epiphytic plants that grow in tree or rock crevices.
There are many species of jungle cacti and the most common name for them is “Holiday Cacti” like for example Thanks Giving, Christmas, and Easter Cacti. For me personally, these holiday names are very confusing and I am more familiar with the proper names for them. At home we have three kinds of jungle cacti: Epiphyllum (=Epis, Orchid Cactus); Rhipsalidopsis gaertneri (Sunrise cactus) and Zygocactus truncates (Schlumbergera truncata Hybrids/Crab’s Claw cactus)
At the moment as the last month of spring is warming up here in the Southern part of the world (Australia), only the Epis and the Rhipsalidopsis are blooming. Zygocactus will flower later in the summer time in late autumn to early winter.
- Epiphyllum: It is said that originally natural Epis have mostly white or creamy colour flowers. Only the hybrid varieties have more colourful colours like red, pink, salmon or mauve. The ones that we have is a bigger variety with large bright red blooms and the other one is smaller variety with pink and white colour. Unfortunately we have no records of the cultivar names.
Although these three species have flat stems (leaves), Epiphyllum consists of broad and long flat stems with lobed edges (without sections). The flowers grow from the aereole on the outer edge of the stems.
- Rhipsalidopsis gaertneri has smaller flat stems (leaves) which come in sections. The edges of the stems are rounder and the flowers grow from the tip of the stems. The bright coloured blooms are star shaped and they are closed at night and will open up when exposed to the sunlight during the day.This is why it is also named Sunrise cactus.
- Zygocactus has claw like stems (leaves) which grow in sections. The flowers that grow from the tip of the stems are irregular/ asymmetrical in shape and come in many different colours such as red, pink, salmon, white, mauve or purple.
The easiest way to differentiate these three plants is by looking at the shape of the leaves. They are hardy and easy to grow in warmer areas. The smaller varieties are suitable to grow in hanging pots for a beautiful display of flowers.
November 13, 2009
Photo update of the pink Epiphyllum hybrid (Deutsche Kaiserin). Now in full bloom………….
Update: Friday August 6,2010:
I was cleaning one of the ceramic jars and in there I found an old tag of the pink orchid cactus above that was long forgotten. The botanic name is Nopalxochia phyllanthoides and apparently it is also called: Epiphyllum ’Deutsche Kaiserin’ . This is the tag with picture and plant info: