Sunrise Cactus

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Sunrise cactus is named so because of the fact that the flowers only open during the day when it is bright and sunny, they will close during the night. The botanic names are Rhipsalidopsis gaertneri, Rhipsalis gaertneri, Hotiora gaertneri or Epiphyllum gaertneri. On the northern parts of the world like in United States it is also known as Easter cactus.

We only have one variety of Sunrise cactus plant with starry mauve pink blooms. To me personally, it is the hardest and the fussiest plant to grow. It is prone to suddenly wilt away for no apparent reason. Few years ago, I tried to save the mother plant from wilting and rotting away by saving some healthy leaf cutting. But up to now, it is only one little pot survives and to my surprise it is blooming beautifully.

- Rhipsalidopsis gaertneri - Sunrise cactus Oct. 2015 Sunrise Cactus - Pink Rhipsalidopsis gaertneri Oct. 2015 Sunrise Cactus - Rhipsalidopsis gaertneri Oct. 2015 Sunrise Cactus Oct. 2015


Saving Sick Sunrise Cactus

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Fussy and troublesome Sunrise Cactus!!!!!

Lately, I noticed that the Sunrise Cactus (Rhipsalidopsis gaertneri) looked droopy and wilted. I thought that I overwatered and the recent autumn cold snap had caused the plant to wilt. First, it was only a little part that was limp, but slowly almost half of the stem crown were affected. Looking closely, I noticed that the problem was actually from the base stems near the soil line.

I am sure that the plant is having Phytophthora Root Rot. The wilted parts look kind of limp and grey. The main stems near the soil looked rotten with hardly any roots left.  There are few plants in the pot. Two of them are very bad and not worth saving, but the other two still have green and fresh stems and it is worth trying to save the healthy cuttings. So I cut all the healthy stems and I laid them on a news paper sheet to harden the cutting part for around 24 hours. Tommorow, I will replant them and hopefully they will grow new roots.

I find that growing Sunrise cactus is much harder than Zygocactus ( Schlumbergera truncata). Although both of them are somewhat related and have the same growing requirements, but Sunrise cacti are very prone to fungal problems, while Zygos are more resistant. It is the second time I have a wilting problem with our Sunrise cacti. I just hope that I can still save the plant from the healthy cuttings. Fingers cross!

Phytophthora Root Rot – Sunrise Cactus

Healthy Cuttings – Sunrise Cactus

Monday, April 30, 2012. 

Finished planting the Easter Cactus Cuttings. For the planting medium, I just used whatever I have……A mixture of regular potting mix, a bit of bark chips, crushed styro-foam, charcoal and a little bit of well rotted chicken manure. This works for Zygocactus, hopefully the fussy Sunrise cactus will like it too. The gardening experts recommend to use perlite, but it is much too expensive!

Newly Planted Sunrise Cactus Cuttings

Note: February 3, 2013.

Now it has been about 10 months, only one pot of the sunrise cactus cuttings survive. The other two were goners. It is just clear to me how difficult it is to grow sunrise cactus. Although one pot of cuttings seem to thrive now, it will not guarantee that one day, it will also just wilt and die. This is the last time I grow this plant, and I will never have new ones ever again.

Sunrise Cactus - February 3, 2013

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.