Christmas Cactus vs Easter Cactus: Differences Compared

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Are you confused about the difference between Christmas cactus and Easter cactus? These two plants may look similar, but they have distinct characteristics that set them apart. Understanding the differences between these two cacti can help you care for them properly and enjoy their beautiful blooms.

Christmas cactus and Easter cactus are both popular houseplants that belong to the cactus family. They are native to Brazil and have been hybridized to produce a wide variety of colors and shapes. While they are both cacti, they have different growth habits, leaf shapes, and bloom times.

One of the key differences between Christmas Cactus and Easter Cactus is their bloom time. As the name suggests, the Christmas cactus typically blooms around the holiday season, while the Easter cactus blooms in the spring around Easter time. In addition to their different bloom times, these cacti also have different leaf shapes and growth habits. Understanding these differences can help you identify which type of cactus you have and care for it properly.

Christmas Cactus vs Easter Cactus Comparison Table

CharacteristicChristmas CactusEaster Cactus
Blooming SeasonLate fall or winterSpring
Flower ShapeDroopingFlat, star-shaped
Leaf ShapeTeardrop or scalloped edgesLeaves with very round edges
Flower ColorsPink, red, white, and yellowOrange, pink, peach, white, and red
Overall Plant ShapeLess spikey pads with rounder edgesSubtle, rounded edges on its stem segments

As you can see, the main differences between the Christmas cactus and the Easter cactus are the blooming season, flower shape, leaf shape, flower colors, and overall plant shape. Christmas cactus blooms in late fall or winter with drooping flowers that have purple-brown anthers.

It has teardrop or scalloped edges to the leaves and comes in pink, red, white, and yellow flower colors. Easter cactus blooms in spring with flat, star-shaped flowers and has leaves with very round edges. It comes in orange, pink, peach, white, and red flower colors and has subtle, rounded edges on its stem segments.

Both Christmas cactus and Easter cactus are easy to care for and make great houseplants. They prefer bright, indirect light and well-draining soil. They also require regular watering but do not like to be overwatered. With proper care, these cacti can bloom for many years and bring joy to your home.

Physical Differences

Leaf Shape

The easiest way to tell the difference between a Christmas cactus and an Easter cactus is by looking at their leaves. The Easter cactus has oval-shaped leaves with rounded edges, while the Christmas cactus has flat, segmented leaves with pointed edges.

The leaves of the Christmas cactus are also more prominent and have a more defined shape than those of the Easter cactus.

Flower Shape

The flowers of the Christmas cactus and the Easter cactus are also different. The Christmas cactus has flowers that are tubular in shape and hang down from the stem.

The flowers of the Easter cactus, on the other hand, are more star-shaped and tend to point upwards. The flowers of both plants come in a range of colors, including pink, red, white, and purple.


The color of the flowers can also be used to distinguish between the two plants. While both plants have flowers that come in a range of colors, the Christmas cactus tends to have brighter, more vibrant flowers than the Easter cactus. The flowers of the Easter cactus are usually a more muted shade of pink or red.

In summary, the physical differences between the Christmas cactus and the Easter cactus are primarily in their leaf shape, flower shape, and color. By examining these features, you can easily tell the two plants apart.

Growing Differences

Light Requirements

Both Christmas and Easter cacti prefer bright, indirect light, but their light requirements differ slightly. Christmas cacti can tolerate slightly more direct sunlight than Easter cacti, but both should be protected from intense, direct sunlight.

Temperature Tolerance

Christmas and Easter cacti are both tropical plants and prefer warm temperatures. However, they have slightly different temperature tolerances.

Christmas cacti prefer temperatures between 60-70°F (15-21°C) during the day and slightly cooler temperatures at night. Easter cacti prefer slightly cooler temperatures, between 55-65°F (13-18°C) during the day and cooler temperatures at night.

Watering Needs

Both Christmas and Easter cacti require well-draining soil and should be allowed to dry out slightly between waterings. However, their watering needs differ slightly.

Christmas cacti prefer to be kept slightly drier than Easter cacti and should be watered only when the top inch of soil is dry. Easter cacti prefer slightly more moisture and should be watered when the top half of the soil feels dry.

Here’s a quick summary of the growing differences between Christmas and Easter cacti:

Christmas CactusEaster Cactus
Light RequirementsBright, indirect light; can tolerate slightly more direct sunlightBright, indirect light; should be protected from intense, direct sunlight
Temperature Tolerance60-70°F (15-21°C) during the day; cooler temperatures at night55-65°F (13-18°C) during the day; cooler temperatures at night
Watering NeedsAllow top inch of soil to dry out before wateringWater when top half of soil feels dry

Blooming Differences

Time of Year

The Christmas cactus usually blooms during the winter months, with the buds appearing in November and blooming over the Christmas period. The Thanksgiving cactus blooms a month earlier than the Christmas cactus.

On the other hand, Easter cactus blooms in spring, starting to reveal flower buds in February and flowering from March through May.

Duration of Bloom

The Christmas cactus blooms for about a month, while the Thanksgiving cactus blooms for about 2-3 weeks. The Easter cactus blooms for a longer duration of approximately 6-8 weeks.

Frequency of Bloom

The Christmas cactus and Thanksgiving cactus usually bloom once a year, while the Easter cactus may bloom twice a year. The Easter cactus has been known to bloom again in the fall, but not as profusely as in the spring.

It is important to note that the blooming differences between the three cacti can vary based on the individual plant and its growing conditions. However, generally, the blooming differences can help to distinguish between the Christmas cactus, Thanksgiving cactus, and Easter cactus.

Care and Maintenance of Christmas and Easter Cactus


Pruning is an essential part of maintaining the health and shape of your Christmas and Easter cactus. You can prune your cactus after the blooming season to encourage new growth and branching.

Use clean, sharp scissors to cut back the stems to the desired length. You can also remove any dead or damaged leaves and stems to prevent the spread of diseases.


Propagating your Christmas and Easter cactus is an easy and rewarding process. You can propagate your cactus by stem cuttings. Cut a healthy stem from the parent plant and let it dry for a few days.

Then dip the cut end in rooting hormone and plant it in a well-draining soil mix. Keep the soil moist and place the cutting in a bright, indirect light. The cutting should root in a few weeks and start to grow new leaves and stems.

Pests and Diseases

Christmas and Easter Cactus are relatively pest-free, but they can suffer from diseases if not properly cared for. Overwatering and poor drainage can lead to root rot, while underwatering can cause the leaves to shrivel and drop.

To prevent diseases, make sure to water your cactus only when the top inch of soil is dry, and use a well-draining soil mix. You can also use a fungicide to treat any fungal infections.

Common pests that can affect your cactus include mealybugs, spider mites, and scale insects. You can remove these pests by using a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol or by spraying your cactus with insecticidal soap. Make sure to treat your cactus as soon as you notice any signs of pest infestation to prevent the spread of the pests to other plants.

What Are the Differences Between a Christmas Cactus and a Thanksgiving Cactus?

The differences between christmas cactus and thanksgiving cactus lie in their blooming period. While both are species of the Schlumbergera cacti family, Christmas cactus blooms in December and has smooth, rounded leaves.

On the other hand, Thanksgiving cactus blooms in November and has pointed, jagged leaves.

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