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.